In terms of sci-fi, Dune’s six Oscar wins last night was by far the biggest success. Behind that however was Coda, the first-ever Sundance film and streaming film to win Best Picture. Following a young woman named Ruby (Locke and Key’s Emilia Jones) who is able to hear, while the rest of her family is not, it’s a heartwarming, important film that also won Best Adapted Screenplay for its writer-director Sian Heder, and Best Supporting Actor for star Troy Kotsur, who plays Ruby’s father, Frank.
What you may not know about Kotsur is that he played a huge role in the first season of The Mandalorian. In the first season’s fifth episode, “The Gunslinger,” Mando is crossing the deserts of Tatooine and happens on a group of Tuskens. However, instead of fighting them (which is what usually happens), Mando communicates with them through a unique form of sign language. Kotsur not only plays the Tusken who communicates with Mando, he created the sign language for the show, which was then again used on The Book of Boba Fett. The role made him the first deaf actor to appear in Star Wars.
Now, we’ll admit, these facts aren’t exactly news. Ever since that Mandalorian episode was out people have been talking about Kotsur. Then, when Coda was first released, it became a bigger deal. But now that he’s officially an Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor, we thought it was fun to revisit and maybe enlighten a few people who didn’t know about the Star Wars connection.
“I did research on the culture and environment of Tuskens,” Kotsur told the Daily Moth (via SWNN) back in 2020 about his process. “I researched on the desert called ‘sand people.’ That is what Luke Skywalker calls them, ‘sand people.’ Anyway, my goal was to avoid ASL. I made sure it became Tusken Sign Language based on their culture and environment.” It’s a powerful moment and one of the first instances where we see the Tuskens not as the evil creatures we first met in A New Hope, and that trajectory carried over into The Book of Boba Fett. Before, you know, all of those characters got unceremoniously massacred by the Pykes.
Nevertheless, the link between this excellent Oscar-winning movie and our favorite galaxy far, far, away is just lovely. Definitely check out Coda on Apple TV+, and then pop over to Disney+ and watch “The Gunslinger” from The Mandalorian season one.
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