I can hardly believe it, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars is 15 years old! In celebration of the milestone, the main voice cast—Ashely Eckstein, Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, and Sam Witwer—gathered in Chicago for C2E2 and we were able to attend their anniversary panel.
The hourlong session was moderated by Claire Lim and highlighted the groups’ casting process, favorite story arcs, working with Dave Filioni and even their thoughts on the Force.
Full disclosure here, I’ve only watched a few episodes of the Clone Wars series and have stuck mainly to Star Wars movies for my entertainment. However, I’m very familiar with Ashley Eckstein and Ahsoka Tano and remember the days of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Back then, Ashley was serving as a host for the event and had recently launched the brand Her Universe. James Arnold Taylor was also a staple as was Dee Bradley Baker, Jeremy Bulloch, and Mr. Filioni himself.
I’m sure many Clone Wars fans already know most of the stories that are shared at fan conventions; I knew a few of them myself such as Ashley’s casting process and originally reading for Padme; and how James found/landed on Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice. I did learn that Matt did not initially know he was reading for Anakin and that Sam got the call about voicing Darth Maul while he was driving!
Another story Sam shared was about the time he out-geeked Dave Filioni while rehearsing a scene featuring the ghost of Anakin’s mother Shmi Skywalker. Anakin’s lines said something about introducing Shmi to Padme, and Sam immediately made a correction. He said that Padme and Shmi had already met back when Anakin was just a boy! Of course Dave knew this, but it had slipped into the script anyway and Sam got the chance to show off his Star Wars knowledge.
Ashley and James each told a story about Order 66 coming back in their real lives. Ashley said after the show had been canceled the group was at a wrap party and not having a good time. When they left, they went to In-N-Out Burger and Dave offered to pay for their meal. Yep, it was order 66! Then James pointed out that right before today’s panel, the golf cart that brought them to the stage was numbered 66 and they wondered just exactly where C2E2 was taking them…
Guests asked if there were other Star Wars characters they’d want to play and while everyone is thrilled with the roles they’ve brought to life, Sam is curious about exploring a darker character; Matt wants to know what life was like for Vader in the early days as a Sith; James would love to play Plo Koon again, and Ashley would be delighted to cameo in the life action Ahsoka series if it gets a second season. Yes, folks she has confirmed that she will not appear in season one.
On another fun note, today was Matt’s 40th birthday and the cast plus some friends surprised him on stage. As an audience, we joined in with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday, and the cast gifted him with desserts and 40 packets of ketchup. You’ll have to check out the video below for the ketchup story!
Even though there were no announcements or reveals about upcoming projects, it was nice to see the cast together having a great time and reminiscing about the Clone Wars series. They are so enjoyable to watch and bring such a positive energy to the room. It’s been years since I’ve seen Ashley and James, but they felt like the same genuine people from 15 years ago.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing the cast at a convention, I highly recommend it. Sure, it helps to be a fan of Clone Wars, but if you’re familiar with anything in the Skywalker Saga, you’ll be able to appreciate the cast and how much they love being part of the galaxy.
C2E2 2023 takes place from March 31-April 2 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Digital Tickets are available and include access to Livestream Panels like this one and more.