Lego and Star Wars have had a strong relationship for a while now, including the multiple Lego Star Wars video-games released and the Star Wars characters playing an important role in the 2014 blockbuster The Lego Movie. Building that bond ever stronger is a new TV show, Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures which premieres today on Disney XD.
Set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, the series stars the Freemakers, a family of scavengers who operate and salvage a repair shop in space and scour the galaxy for useful debris to build new vehicles of their own design. This fun-filled half-hour TV series combines excitement, action and adventure of a galaxy far, far away with a dose of LEGO's signature brick-building humor.
On Wednesday, June 8th, Disney screened the first episode for a press event followed by a Q&A with the producers, Bill Motz and Bob Roth as well as the voice cast of the Freemaker family.
The press, filled with Star Wars fans of all ages, were eager to ask questions. The first question was curious if there was a "Star Wars bible" that was used as a source. Roth answered that they worked with a member of the Lucasfilm story team named Carrie Beck and, if they pitched any idea that was already being tackled in a future Star Wars installment (be it Rogue One or Episode IX) she would simply smile and say, "Can't do that." Having worked on this project since July of last year, they actually said they originally pitched the plot of following the fate of Luke's first lightsaber that he lost alongside with his hand after his confrontation with Darth Vader in Empire. Obviously, because The Force Awakens covers that plot element, they had to think of something else, which is how they came up with a plot involving the "Kyber Saber", the universe's first lightsaber created by the first Jedi which, due to being too powerful, was destroyed into eight separate pieces with each piece hidden through-out the galaxy. Motz also hinted there could be crossovers to with other Star Wars projects from comics to Star Wars Rebels.
When asked about what inspired the timeline of the show to be in between Empire and Jedi, Roth explained that, "When we first dipped our toes into [this show] the only thing we were told was they want a Lego Star Wars — they didn't want it to interfere with the new trilogy. Part of the pitch is these guys go around the galaxy pick up all of these leftovers from all of the other battles. Setting it in between The Empire Strike Back and Return Of The Jedi makes total sense because that's as far as we push it without going beyond the original trilogy." They also wanted Darth Vader, The Emperor and as many of the battles and classic characters as they could get. When asked whether Luke, Leia or Han would be making appearances, they responded with a resounding "yes!" "You're going to see a lot of familiar faces. Some big ones like Luke and Leia, some minor ones that you may not be expecting." The first episode, in addition to including Darth Vader and The Emperor, also features Dengar, opening the doors to a possible playable LEGO Dengar for all the Lego Star Wars collectors out there!
After Roth and Motz talked about the process, the actors finally started to pitch in. When asked about the audition process, given the secrecy of all things Star Wars, Vanessa Lengies first explained that the audition simply said it was for a show titled "LSW," having no idea it was for LEGO, Star Wars or anything of that nature. She said when she read the description for her character Kordi that she, "Fell in love with the character without knowing any context. She was a tomboy, she takes care of her little brother. I fell in love with that and she likes to 'entertain with the purpose of making money' which I really connected to." Since it was just a vocal audition, she shared she recorded herself with her phone under her bed sheet. When she actually got the call back met Roth and Motz and recorded some lines she said "There was this magical tingly air about it. I remember feeling 'There's something big here!'"
Twelve-year-old Nicolas Cantu voices Rowan Freemaker. He said he auditioned in his closest and that he auditioned again in person when he was visiting Los Angeles from San Antonio and that he didn't even realize it was Star Wars until the call back confirming he got the part saying it was "a big deal" and that he "screamed on the top of his lungs" when he heard the news. The producers and rest of the cast had particularly high praise for young Cantu, noting the surprising amount of confidence, energy and maturity he displayed for a child his age. They even gave us a heads up for a very emotional speech he'll deliver later in the series that drives them in tears.
Eugene Byrd, who voices older brother Zander Freemaker, said he heard of his part from his agents and, being a huge Star Wars fan, he suspected it was Star Wars right away as he felt there were words in the description that seemed weird and were leading that way. Then he got the call to meet Roth and Motz, he came in and "had the best time ever," recording some lines thinking "I feel pretty good about this!" Then he later gets the call informing him he got the part and they asked "You want to know what it is?" he responds "It's Star Wars right?" "Yeah, but it's LEGO Star Wars." That's when share he got so excited "He jumped on the bed screaming, scaring the cat away!"
The final voice actor, Star Wars veteran Matthew Wood, had the most unique "audition process" for his character. He got a call saying "Hey they're doing an animated show... and there's robot sidekick named RO-GR, they want you to do it." Since it was a battle-droid, he just assumed like in the prequels, "OK, he'll probably die after the first episode in some embarrassing way." But no, he came to the recording studio in Los Angeles and could tell right off the bat that this was going to be something special as he could feel the love for Star Wars through-out the room. "My character actually gets to last several episodes!
One LEGO fan asked about the official "color" of these character as he didn't recognize this color palette. The answer was "nougat", which is an official LEGO color not created specifically for the show. The reason they went this color was because they wanted the Freemaker family's race/ethnicity to be undefined so everyone can watch the show and feel "Hey those characters actually look like me!" Another question asked is how did the name "Freemaker" come about. Roth explained that the name "Skywalker" was the inspiration and that they wanted a name like that. They really liked the word "free" whereas "maker" comes from the fact in LEGOs there are sets and people who build from the instructions and then there are people who free-form and make their own stuff. Finally, when asked if this series is "canon," Motz explained that their stories try their very hardest to match the movie's continuity. But, since this is a LEGO show, Roth said "The best way to think of this show is that it's an official Star Wars story reenacted by a child playing with his LEGOs".
As someone who only had a passing interest in the previous Lego programs, let me say I loved this first episode. This found a perfect balance between comedy, action and drama and actually made me want to see the rest of the series. Regardless if you're a fan of Star Wars Rebels or have never had any interest in the any of the previous animated Star Wars shows, this one should be very amusing to any fan of the original trilogy as it celebrates it with much of the humor and style that was seen in The Lego Movie. I highly recommend you check out this first episode, which airs Monday, June 20th at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Disney XD.