Narcos and Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal is to play the lead in upcoming Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian, Disney has announced, as it builds on the beloved and profitable science fiction franchise.
Penned and produced by Marvel mainstay Jon Favreau, the live-action show will follow Pascal's lone gunfighter, making his way in the outer reaches of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire.
"We're having a great time working with this incredibly talented group and excited for everyone to see what we're up to," said Favreau, whose next big-screen project will be Disney's The Lion King (2019).
Pascal, 43, made his name as the dashing prince Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, and cemented his stardom as drug cop Javier Pena in Narcos.
The Texas-raised Chilean-American has since broken into the Hollywood mainstream via Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The Equalizer 2, and awards season darling If Beale Street Could Talk.
Other big names to star
Other actors announced for the series – set to debut on Disney's upcoming small-screen streaming service in 2019 – include Gina Carano (Deadpool), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Nick Nolte (Hulk) and acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog.
Directors of individual episodes will include Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi, Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard and Canadian filmmaker Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones).
The legend that is Star Wars
Star Wars has grown into the most lucrative and influential movie franchise of all time since the original film was released in 1977.
Disney paid creator George Lucas $4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012, and has already brought out no less than four movies, starting with 2015's The Force Awakens.
But disappointing box office results for its latest spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story raised questions over whether Star Wars fatigue might be setting in, 40 years into a series that once kept respectable three-year gaps between episodes.
On top of The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm has announced plans for an Episode IX, two further trilogies by Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, a Boba Fett origin story and a possible Obi Wan Kenobi spinoff.
Online reaction to the announcement of Pascal appeared positive, with fans praising Lucasfilm on Twitter for its "excellent choice" of cast.
"ALL IN on a Pedro Pascal Star Wars TV show," said one enthusiast.
Another user praised Disney's decision to put Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte together.
Giancarlo Esposito also got some love from the Twittersphere.
The Mandalorian will air on Disney+, set to launch in the US in late 2019.