One of the best things about Star Wars is its longevity. People who grew up with Star Wars are now actively making it, and that's not just limited to the employees at Lucasfilm. The sci-fi franchise inspired many to get involved in show business, including The Haunting of Bly Manor actor Rahul Kohli. But after a seemingly harmless tweet blew up into Mandalorian Season 2 casting rumors, here's what's really going on with his ambitions in that galaxy far, far away.
Calling Rahul Kohli a Star Wars fan would be an understatement.
"I've spent more hours lightsaber dueling in my garden than I have acting," he tells Inverse. "I became an actor because of Star Wars."
A casual scroll of his Twitter feed makes this very apparent. Kohli shows off his Bly Manor chair back by draping it over a Lego Millennium Falcon. A random shot of him celebrating the release of Bly Manor shows reveals him not only wearing a Lucasfilm t-shirt but watching the animated Star Wars series Rebels in the background.
This overt fandom got him in a bit of hot water when he tweeted about getting into shape while heavily alluding to Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger, prompting the Star Wars community to collectively freak out. Even though he dispelled the rumors later, for those few minutes, it felt confirmation that The Mandalorian family was getting a new member — and one that fans had been clamoring for.
Kohli quickly walked back those rumors, but when the opportunity to interview him for The Haunting of Bly Manor presented itself, I could resist bringing it up. He interrupted me before I could finish my question.
"You aren't going to ask about Ezra Bridger, are you?" he said, half accusingly.
Instead, I asked the question I ask most Star Wars fans I meet: if you could play a totally original character, what would they be like?
"I would be in the background of the cantina if that's what it took," he responded. "But if I had a preference, I used to love Kyle Katarn from the Jedi Knights series."
Kyle Katarn was the protagonist of five Star Wars video games, but unfortunately, his huge role in the Rebellion — stealing the Death Star plans — was retconned when Disney acquired Lucasfilm and turned the Extended Universe into non-canonical Legends. But that doesn't stop Kohli from daydreaming.
"Thrawn was a part of Legends and they brought him back for The Clone Wars so who knows," he says. "Kyle Katarn or Dash Rendar, just so many cool people."
Dave Filoni, take notes.
As for that tweet, the explanation is pretty mundane. "I was trolling. I heard rumors that there was a casting call looking for a live-action Ezra that was looking for Asian actors in their late twenties, early thirties," Kohli explained. "I had watched a bit of Rebels that morning, so it was fresh in my mind. I was going to the gym and I thought I'd fire off a cheeky tweet."
He wasn't expecting what came next. "I say stuff like that all the time and everyone ignores me, it's just me being a little geek and fancasting myself." Then, the penny dropped. "I came back to my phone and I realized I may have kicked up a hornet's nest. But because I'm a troll and a bit of a child I ended up doubling down because I couldn't help myself."
In case it wasn't absolutely clear, Kohli confirms he won't be appearing in The Mandalorian Season 2 later this month, but who knows? Maybe there's still hope his trolling could work some magic in the future.
The entire ordeal actually taught Kohli about the Star Wars community at large.
"I'm a part of the Star Wars community as much as anyone," he says. "It doesn't matter that I'm an actor. I know it can be a toxic place. I've seen it, and it hurts. But when that Ezra stuff went out, the outpouring of support, positivity, and celebration felt so good. It sucked that it was bollocks, but it just made me say 'This fandom is awesome.
He adds: "The fanart came out, even people who knew I was trolling weren't upset. I found that really refreshing after what's happened in recent years. If this were a real announcement, it wasn't met with any kind of racism, just complete and utter joy."
In a time when Star Wars news seems rarer and rarer, the possibility, however faint, of a beloved animated character appearing in live-action is something to be celebrated.
"It was lovely," Kohli says. "It was just a shame it was bullshit."
The Mandalorian Season 2 premieres on Disney+ on October 30.