This year’s New York Comic Con kicked off on a high note with a Thursday filled with brand new Star Wars Rebels content. Following the Rebels panel, featuring Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, Dave Filoni, Ashley Eckstein, Taylor Gray, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, members of the press caught up with the cast and crew in NYCC’s first ever Star Wars Rebels press conference.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, the voice of the Seventh Sister, doesn’t make convention appearances often, so having her at NYCC–her hometown–was a special experience. She’s primarily known as the hero Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but when asked what has surprised her about playing the part of the villain, she said, “How much I enjoy it! You know, it’s always fun to play the characters that you least expect. She’s such an intelligent–she’s a thinking bad guy. And everybody likes to be the villain!”
She also went on to talk about her experience in the recording sessions, “It’s extremely creative. It’s very free. I’m one of those people that has to use my entire body when I do stuff, so I wield my imaginary lightsaber when I’m in there. It’s so weird that they don’t bring those to recording sessions just because I have to get into the physicality of it. But, it’s really freeing because you’re just not as self-conscious,” she said, before Dave Filoni added that she does little actions and gestures that get incorporated into the animation later on. “Just because you’re in a recording booth, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be fully in character. It’s just you don’t have to sit through hair and makeup, and so, when I was finding her and finding things, like the hands and whatever those things are that help you get into character, and then you would start seeing them in the drawings–it’s a really great reciprocal process and creative.”
The Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother will definitely be forces to be reckoned with in the upcoming season. Dave Filoni spoke briefly on the topic of Inquisitors, “They’re all different. They actually all use a similar weapon. They’re all trained with that spinning lightsaber blade, so it’s just a good identifier. You try to have strong identification character elements for the audience. The Seventh Sister is a little more probing. Her attack style is quicker. She tries to see what your weakness is and then go for it. They all just have different ways. It helps their character–little differences–so they’re not just all the latest guy who wears all black.”
In terms of the presence of female characters in season two, Dave and Ashley shared some thoughts about the topic.
“I think you can expect a lot. To say it’s the season of the ladies, I think it’s just–I’m just trying to get to the point where that’s just the way it is. It’s equal. Right now it’s great and a lot of times it’s special, but a lot of times it’s special because it’s so uncommon. When you go down that thought process, you realize how sad that is,” Filoni said, adding that his wife gives him those female perspectives. “I try to apply that. All I can really do is create opportunities and bring some balance to the Force here. You see the reaction from the crowd. I mean, the guys love Hera because she’s an awesome pilot. You do these characters right, they are for everybody, but I think hopefully very empowering for young girls to look at Hera and Sabine and say, ‘Wow, they’re awesome.’ We just have to keep that ball rolling. I think that creative teams in the industry are going that way now and I think that’s a very good thing.”
Ashley also added later on during the press conference,”[The writers] don’t point out that these are girls. They’re just really cool characters, and so, when you write it correctly, you look past the gender. That’s how it should be.”
One of the significant changes we noticed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars was the time jump for characters, like Ahsoka Tano. You saw it in her outfit change in the third season. When asked if that would happen in Star Wars Rebels for a character like Ezra, he said, “I wouldn’t say you’d see a jump necessarily. We did it in a very strange way in Clone Wars. We did it in the middle of a season. If I did it, I wouldn’t do it in the middle of a season again. I like that, though. I like changing the way the characters look. It drives some cosplayers nuts, but I mean if you look at the way you dress in junior high and then you look at the way you dressed in junior year, it’s different. What I’m always focused on is trying to make these characters reflect their personality changes, even through the way they look or what costume they wear. I mean, Luke does that brilliantly, right? From the beginning in A New Hope to the end in Jedi, so I think as a I use it to symbolize character change and evolution, yeah, it probably will jump a little bit at a certain point. Not maybe that long. I also like the idea story wise that time passes.”
An expert on clone troopers, Dave Filoni also had much to say on the topic of the young clones that were still in production and training on Kamino.
“There are so many stories in this galaxy. Definitely, there have been stories that I’ve thrown around about different clones and what’s happened to them. Some clones probably, I’ll be honest, some might still work for the Empire in some capacity, but mainly, they’re on dock duty. They haul cargo, containers–they’re doing menial stuff like that. They’re old now, by that time. And even the younger ones, they would age quickly and be decommissioned. I’m sure they fought for a period, but at the end of the day, as they get older, they’re a bit twitchy because of all the programming. The way that Order 66 works, if a clone won’t execute the order, for whatever reason–that would happen just on probability of how many units they created, so the process doesn’t take ahold of everybody. Well, the minute that clone says, “I’m not shooting my General,” the clone next to him blasts him as a sub-order within the command structure, so all those guys are eliminated. After Order 66, a lot of the clones sit there and think about what they did and go, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that we did that.” Some of them and their morality go, “I can’t believe that we would have shot these Jedi Generals.”
“Some of them believed the Jedi were corrupt and they believe they had every right to. The Jedi in Revenge of the Sith talk about that. Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, and Yoda know that if they make a move against the Chancellor, it’s going to be seen as treason. So Palpatine is right about that. When Mace Windu walks into the office to arrest him, they’re okay. When he moves to execute him, they’re under arrest by rule of law of the Republic. Mace Windu doesn’t have the authority to execute the Chancellor of the Republic. He would have to be put on trial, so Anakin walks in the room, he’s effectively stopping a crime by saving the Chancellor. That’s how good Palpatine is. You see what I mean? We know the story, we know he’s evil, but what Mace is trying to do, we know it’s a good thing. Kill this evil and horrible person. There are so many complex issues around the Clone Wars, which made it a very interesting and difficult series to make, especially with that ending.”
Since Ezra started off as our focus character in season one and we see the conflict through his perspective, press members also wanted to know where his character will be heading in the second season.
“He’s toughening up and he’s taking the reins a little bit more,” Taylor said, briefly adding that he’s also learning along with Ezra. “You can tell he’s a cocky dude. That comes out a little bit more because now he’s apart of the rebel crew and he’s seeing how he’s actually needed at times. So through season two, a big thing is his parents. That’s something they need to address and get through first. That storyline plays out a bit and it can go a variety of ways, but aside from that, he’s getting better with the Force. And what he can do with a lightsaber is pretty cool now. I’m excited for people to see where he goes in the next season.”
Rex and R2-D2, Ahsoka on Mandalore, the bounty hunters arc–these are stories from Star Wars: The Clone Wars that fans desperately want to see. Although these stories weren’t brought up in the press conference, Dave Filoni does briefly touch on that topic.
“We’re really careful about what stories, especially from the Clone Wars era, that we decide to release in a different medium. For me, ultimately, Star Wars is a film. Star Wars is a moving picture. I think that Star Wars works best in the way it feels and is executed when you have music with the dialogue, action, and sound design. Some writers have done an incredible job at recreating that in your mind when you’re reading a book or comic book, but there’s some stuff–I still hold out hope in the future–would be able to bring to the screen somewhere. If there’s a Clone Wars story that I can still do that with and find a way to do it, I would do it. It’s just a matter of timing. There’s so much Star Wars in play right now. Literally, for years [from now], we know what we’re going to be doing, which is kind of cool.”
“I would rather though have the story get out for the fans to know that it never get out at all. Which is why I’ve been apart of some of these novels that have been made, just advising [the writers] and handing off the scripts that we wrote because I wanted those stories to be told. At that time, I wasn’t sure how much we would get out or not. That’s why I release some story reels online, like the Bad Batch and the Utapau arc, just so that people can see them.”
As for the details of Rex and Ahsoka’s lives between Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, they’re definitely present, since Dave has told Dee Bradley Baker and Ashley about their in-between years. Rex and Ahsoka know those details, so it made sense for the actors to know as well because knowing those details adds to their performances.
And finally, the majority of the cast don’t know what happens at the end of the second season. Dave Filoni enjoys when they don’t know and how they eventually react to it, “I have to keep small Star Wars fun areas for myself and that’s one of them.”