We’re just two months away from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens being released in theaters, but fans who want new stories centered in our favorite universe only have to wait days as the second season of Star Wars Rebels premieres on October 14th.
For those not in the know, Star Wars Rebels takes place between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope, following a group of fallen Jedi/rebels as the Rebel Alliance starts making to form and takes a stand against the Empire. The cast is a made of a bunch of original characters named Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Sabine and Zeb with characters from the previous show, The Clone Wars, appearing in the mix (fan favorite Ashoka Tano made a big return at the end of last season while Captain Rex was guaranteed an appearance at the beginning of Season 2). Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin are, of course, the main villains of the show, while other “classic” Star Wars characters make appearances from time to time.
The first season was a hit with the first episode drawing 2.7 million viewers on Disney Channel, and there plenty fans, young and old, eagerly awaiting to see the fate of their favorite new Star Wars characters.
I was fortunate enough to get to go to the press event of the first two episodes of the new Star Wars Rebels season. Before our screening, Dave Filoni, Executive Producer and Supervising Director, introduced the episodes saying that these would actually play at the New York Comic Con the upcoming week and then premiere Disney XD on October 14th and 21st respectively, meaning that we were the first audience to ever watch these two episodes (even the voice cast hadn’t seen these yet!).
After the screening, a Q&A with Filoni as well as voice actors Dee Bradley Baker, Freddie Prinze Jr., Vanessa Marshall and Ashley Eckstein was held.
It started with Dave Filoni answering how long it takes to make an episode. He stated that it’s much quicker to make an episode for Star Wars Rebels than Clone Wars. An episode of Clone Wars, he stated, took roughly a year to make while an episode for Star Wars Rebels only takes months. He also explained the process: it takes six weeks to storyboard and send it to Disney and then, once it gets approved, they proceed with the animation, lighting, sound-design and music.
When asked about what we could expect in the way of Clone Wars characters coming back, Filoni explains it was challenging to bring characters like Ashoka and Captain Rex back as he felt couldn’t just bring them on because he liked those characters but that they had to earn their place in the story of Rebels. Ultimately, he felt the final product he created was a story where they were able to bring back those characters while still serving the narratives of Ezra, Kanan and the other Rebel leads.
Ashley Eckstein was asked what it was like to come back and voice Ashoka Tano since the Clone Wars had ended. She admitted that it is much different and that she stops herself from reading lines “in a cute way” like she did for Ashoka in Clone Wars. She also said that in Rebels she sees herself more like Obi Wan — in that her character is much older and wiser now — and that it would affect her performance in Star Wars Rebels.
Freddie Prinze Jr. explained the relationship between Kanan and Ezra saying that (even though the banter is wittier between him and Ezra than it ever was for Luke and Obi Wan) he sees this relationship as having borrowed heavily from the original trilogy and that the tone between his relationship with Kana and Ezra is not unlike with Luke and Han, even though there’s still a mentor ship involved. He also amusingly pointed out the only contemporary reference he used when voicing Kanan was from Laurence Fishburne in Deep Cover. Prinze said that for Season 2 the stakes are much higher with Darth Vader playing a bigger role in the series and that Season 1 was more “happy-go-lucky” as it dealt mostly with small-town government.
Vanessa Marshall mostly talked about the relationship between Hera and Kanan and how Hera feels the need to expand their Rebel base from a small structure to a bigger militaristic structure, which Kanan resists and then reluctantly agrees with. She explains than any “affection” she has for him will be said without words (Freddie Prinze Jr. insisted that Hera loves Kanan though).
Dee Bradley Baker is no newbie to voice-acting and was asked if there was anything particularly different about being a part of Star Wars universe. Baker replied “of course,” saying that Star Wars was always a huge part of his life and pointed out that he dressed as a Jawa during the Halloween of 1977, making this a dream come true. He also said it was very cool how he played more characters than anyone in Star Wars if you count every clone he voiced individually.
The most interesting question, though, was when Dave Filoni was asked how much, if any, involvement George Lucas had on the show. Filoni did admit that since George sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he didn’t have near as much involvement with Star Wars Rebels as he did with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He also admitted that he a call to Lucas to ask “Hey, what do you think I should do on Star Wars Rebels”, doesn’t really happen much. However, he did say he does talk to George from time to time, mostly talking about television (never sports) and, during conversations, he does drop an occasional questions such as, “If Ashoka ever fought Darth Vader, what do you think would happen?” Lucas will then discuss it and go into detail since Star Wars will always be part of him in some way and he’ll always be able to share thoughts even if he isn’t in direct control like he used to be.
After the Q&A it was also revealed who Sarah Michelle Gellar would be playing on the series. It was announced earlier she’d be voicing a character on the show and, while rumors came up that she was voicing Princess Lea, it turned out she’s voicing a new characters called Seventh Sister Inquisitor; a new villain that appears on this poster that was handed out.
You can check out our video of the panel below: