James Arnold Taylor, Star Wars voice actor extraordinaire, is our host for the Rebels panel, on Saturday at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. He’s wearing special Rebels shoes, one of a kind, with all the characters of the show. Listing his cred, he’s Obi-Wan and Plo Koon on Clone Wars, and listing tons of non-SW credits as well, including the Minions, and celebrity fill-in. And he’s just our host.
Taylor Gray (Ezra) is first out on stage, then Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Steve Blum (Zeb), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Kanan), and producers Simon Kinberg and of course Dave Filoni.
Most of the cast hasn’t been to Celebration before, Prinze finds it crazy and glad to have people come out.
Filoni explains that they wanted to see what happens to a Jedi kid when there’s no Jedi Order anymore, kids keep getting born with the Force after all. What’s it like to grow up living on the Falcon, being on the run from the Empire, and then at the end he got to put Ahsoka Tano in it.
Kinberg got into movies because of Star Wars, and was so excited, has sons who are into it. He wanted to make it a family living on that ship, that was key to the tone, spend a lot of time creating a particular look of the show that comes from the classic movies and their art.
Steve Blum feels very nurtured by the fans, one giant mother holding him. Marshall loves it, calls us “the best fans in the world”. SW Weekends last year they came out and were like “whaaat?” Has their appreciation for Star Wars changed since doing the show?
Prinze has a scar on his chin from playing Star Wars as a kid, using a flagpole as a lightsaber. He didn’t start Twitter until doing Rebels, and within a week he was tweeting sessions in character. He loves it, especially the role play tweeting.
Gray loves talking to kids who dig it, that’s the most important part.
Tiya had seen the original trilogy as a kid but didn’t really know until she got this job that it was a big deal, and started watching Clone Wars when she got the job and then rewatched the OT and got what the fuss is about, and considers herself and her mom huge SW fans, calling after every episode to talk about it. No matter what background, what age you come from, everybody is welcome, it is available to everybody.
1 to 10, where were you as a fan before Rebels, and after? Gray, 3 before, 303 now. Tiya, 4.2 before, 10 now. Blum, he was there for opening weekend for ANH, solid 5 or 6, now 11. Marshall, 10 before and can’t quantify now, infinity. James Arnold Tayler knew Prinze was already a big fan, and Prinze credits his mom for teaching him that he’ll be made fun of no matter what he likes so he should like it no matter what, so he was an easy 10 going in and is still today, “it’s in your DNA when you hear May the Force Be With You you know”. Simon’s first memory in life was ANH, sleeping in a sleeping bag in Westwood village for ESB, he’s a 10 for life. Filoni says they’ve all been very fair, sounds right; Prinze can almost challenge Pablo Hidalgo for knowledge.
It took a week for Kinberg and Filoni to get the show together in a week what normally takes months. Prinze knew it was Star Wars even though it was “cleverly hidden” in the auditions, and his read was instant Star Wars with the right swagger for the Jedi role.
Steve Blum is the “jokester” of their group, and upon request he can burp on cue.
Without knowing who is really in charge, is it Hera, is it Kanan, there’s back and forth between Vanessa and Freddie in their group just the same. Who is the easiest to mess with? Taylor Gray automatically gets pointed to. Who’s always on time? Freddie, not Steve.
Steve and Vanessa are wildly popular in the world of voice acting, is it different on this show now? Steve says the instant bond between the actors. Vanessa says it was instant chemistry, they’re a motley crew in real life, everybody was well cast. Freddie sees it like a road trip every week together, where other voice jobs you’re in a booth alone reading lines. Filoni drives them nuts when he has to send away the rest of the cast to do a scene with just 2 characters, and they all text each other trying to find out what was said.
Ezra’s growth in Taylor’s eyes is finding how to work in a family, and becoming a Jedi.
Tiya feels the growth from over the season for Sabine is learning to be more trusting… and did she just spoil that Sabine may not stay part of the family in season 2? Maaaaybe.
Dave, sum up season 1, Simon, touch on the “greatest finale ever” in season 1 according to Prinze? The team spends all this time animating so it’s better to look at stuff instead of talk about the future… teaser for season 2, and the whole cast sits on the stage to watch the teaser too.
“Things are getting worse, but back then there were 10000 Jedi Knights protecting the galaxy, now just me and you”. “We rob from the Empire, give to the needy, a noble cause.” Lots of action, Kanan in a Sandtrooper costume, lots of space action, the Emperor ordering Vader to “hunt them down” and we see him in his signature TIE. Ahsoka asks to tag along. There’s a B-wing. “We didn’t sign up to be Ahoska’s soldiers”. “We can’t just run” “Ezra, we’re lucky just to survive.” A presence of fear, anger, and hate they haven’t felt since the clone wars, and a dark armored character. Grizzled old but bulked out Rex living in a modified AT-TP walker and wearing a white beard, any friend of Ahoska’s is a friend of his. AT-ATs chasing Rex’s AT-TP. Rex refers to “stormtroopers”. Vader facing off Kanan and Ezra in a saber battle. Vader uses the Force to force Ezra’s saber-wielding hand to his own throat while saying “your master has deceived you into believing you could become a Jedi.” And a standing ovation for a great trailer that we now get to watch again.
Characters James Arnold Taylor calls out from Clone Wars and introduces to the stage Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) and Dee Bradley Baker (Clones, lots of CW characters). “How does it feel?” Ashley, well the secret is out with season 1 finale, but she was in the recording studio and in walks Dee, she hadn’t seen him 2 years and just started crying because Captain Rex was back. Dee, how did he get that call? It took his breath away, he had hoped Rex hadn’t been killed off in the Clone Wars, and now fans get to see him and a few of his clone friends, he won’t say any more. Seeing those old lions going up in an Imperial walker, it’s so awesome. Dee says it looks just fantastic, fun and drama, it has everything.
Before questions, Dave has to say, he has kept so many parts of Clone Wars alive for so many folks he worked with, every trailer done for him is by his personal friend Kevin Yost who he played role play with before he had any Star Wars, and has done a phenomenal job.
Prototype from a licensee of Chopper jewelry they’re giving to Dave.
Dee has a site, iwanttobeavoiceactor.com on getting into the industry.
Dave, how did Captain Rex and the clones survive? This is what Dave’s used to, smiling kids asking huge spoilers. How? He’s weaseling out, but will say that when he perceived it, they went back and forth with George over Rex’s fate at the end of CW, they discussed at length, another key topic was Ahsoka, what happens there, it was only mapped up to ROTS, but he’ll give us something because we’re here, if we’ve watched season 6 with Fives and the chip in their head, Fives tells Rex about that, Rex would believe another trooper, truth can break any spell in Dave’s mind like in fairy tales if your heart is true, if Rex got to that point with a blaster raised he couldn’t do it. But when he doesn’t execute his general he becomes a traitor as well, and the other clones would gun him down as well. Another tease, we all love Rex, Kanan not so much. This is more than Dave ever gives at these things.
Freddie and Dave, back in season 1, when Yoda (Frank Oz) came back and was talking to Kanan and Ezra, was that anointing Ezra a Jedi Knight? Freddie asked Dave the same question, don’t know how much he can spoil, but if they’re staying true to the 5 Jedi trials, Freddie feels Kanan isn’t even halfway there, it’s something he would debate, he doesn’t want to lose the magic of where they want to go but he might count 2 of the 5 trials, trial of flesh.
Who does Chopper’s voice, asked by a very little girl. Dave goes over and whispers it in her ear! “I told her the truth” Dave Filoni taunting the rest of the audience.
Poster of Ahsoka facing off against Vader, does this happen in season 2? Dave: Ahsoka and Vader was the topic that George and I discussed specifically, I asked him exactly what you asked me now, what would that be like, what does she know, what would she know? Let’s just say that’s part of the story we have to tell you.
Return of Cad Bane? Exciting that Hondo’s back, Rex is back, so… they wanted the cast of Rebels to have their space, it’s their time period, it’s the story of this crew. If they found a way to include characters from the past, it’s important for those stories to pass through organically, same with movie characters. They don’t want it to feel like a stream of guest appearances. “If he’s alive, yes. But anything could happen to a bounty hunter.”
Juggling how to explain that the show takes place between the prequels and the OT especially to younger kids, it’s been a big challenge. This is Vader in his prime.
Check out the Rebels season 2 trailer at StarWars.com