The crew of the Ghost covered a lot of ground in season one of “Star Wars Rebels.” They lead a small rebellion on the Outer Rim planet Lothal, took out one of the Empire’s powerful Iquisitors, teamed up with Lando Calrissian and started seeding the return of the Jedi order. But, after making waves like that, Kanaan’s crew drew the attention of the intimidating Darth Vader; these rebels are now a very real threat to the Empire and they’ve got a new Inquisitor on their tail.
During a crowded panel on Thursday afternoon at New York Comic-Con, actors in professional, official Ahsoka and Zeb costumes strut their stuff on stage to applause. Moderator Pablo Hidalgo, part of the “Star Wars Rebels” team, took the stage and described what this panel was like two years ago — when he had nothing but artwork to show. “Fast forward two years now, and you know what this show looks like and what we’re capable of,” said Hidalgo. “Season two is a full length season of 22 episodes that’s full of surprises.”
Hidalgo then introduced the panel one at a time: executive producer Dave Filoni, Sarah Michelle Gellar (Seventh Sister), Taylor Gray (Ezra) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka).
Hidalgo pointed out that this is Filoni’s first NYCC and kicked off the panel by talking about the new Inquisitor, the Seventh Sister. “I wanted to have a new Inquisitor, we wanted to have a female Inquisitor,” said Filoni. “Each one is unique, but they are all bound by similar costumes and lightsabers and have similar elements. The design I worked off of was for a bounty hunter by Ralph McQuarrie for ‘A New Hope.’ That’s what brought it about. Having known Freddie for a while, I thought it would be great to have a situation where she tries to kill him,” said Filoni. referencing the marriage between Sarah and Freddie.
“I wanted to know who I had to sleep with to get a role with on this show!” joked Gellar, clarifying that she meant her husband Prinze and not Filoni. Hidalgo noted that Gellar is relishing playing a villain this time. “I can tell you nothing for fear of losing my house, children and health insurance,” said Gellar. “For me, what I loved about her is that she’s a thinking man’s baddie. She doesn’t just go in for the kill. She wants to play wiht you and have some fun torturing you and then she’ll kill you.”
Gray talked about Ezra’s reaction to the new Inquisitor, saying that things are even crazier. “He’s getting through all this a day at a time. He’s lucky to get by alive.”
Eckstein talked about how she’s playing Ahsoka now, in a new series, following the end of “Clone Wars.” “Dave and I have talked about this, sometimes I feel like I have to adjust my performance because Ahsoka is no longer a Jedi,” said Eckstein. “Soemtimes how I think she’d react, she didn’t, and Dave explained that she’s not a Jedi and she wouldn’t get involved in that way. I get asked all the time about Ahsoka’s white lightsabers, and they’re white because she’s neutral.”
“In some ways, she’s very good but she’s not in tune, and since she’s a different person, her crystals are a different color,” explained Filoni.
Hidalgo then previewed a clip featuring Ezra suffering at the hand of the Seventh Sister. Gellar noted that she did record that scene together, with Gray in the studio.
The clip featured some of Seventh Sister’s probe droids, which Filoni said would be hanging around Gellar’s villain. He likened the relationship to that of Snake Eyes and Timber in G.I. Joe.
Hidalgo latched on to the mention of the “Grand Inquisitor,” which Filoni explained means that the rest of the Inquisitors are now vying to become the new leader.
Gray talked about his year playing Ezra, saying that taking part in panels are “the coolest thing.” “Everything Ezra experiences, we see him go to space for the first time,” said Gray. “I didn’t know as much about ‘Star Wars’ and a year later, I say I can talk about it a lot better.”
“Watching Freddie and Taylor interact, Freddie knows so much about Star Wars,” said Filoni. “You must have to hear about Star Wars all day,” Filoni said to Gellar. Gellar then said that no, actually their six-year-old is the Star Wars authority in their household.
Eckstein’s Ahsoka has gone from student to mentor. “It’s definitely a different role,” she said. “It was a tough adjustment at first, when I first came back into the studio, aside from the fact that she’s in her early 30s. She’s more like Obi-Wan, and now she’s in this new role that’s almost like Yoda. Sometimes I’d have to do different takes because I’d read it like ‘Clone Wars’ Ahsoka.” Eckstein noted that after nine years in the “Star Wars” family, she feels like the veteran. “I’ve been able to be that mentor presence in the cast like Ahsoka is to the Rebels.”
Eckstein then asked Filoni if her outfit today, all black, was just fashion or foreshadowing — which caused the audience to gasp.
Gray talked about meeting kids dressed as Ezra, saying that since they don’t know much about Star Wars, “Rebels” is their introduction to the franchise. Gellar talked about the surprise of watching kids nowadays learn that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Apparently Taylor Gray didn’t know that familial connection when he got cast, and Gellar was embarrassed at the thought that she spoiled Gray live on the panel.
Filoni spoke about breaking stories, saying that they have to keep the Rebels and Ezra front and center and all guest stars have to bounce off of them. Ahsoka adds power to the cast too, said Filoni, because “You can’t just introduce Vader because he’d kill all of them.”
Ezra also has some plotlines coming up, including one about his parents. “I don’t want to say too much and be punished for this, but that storyline does come up in season two,” said Gray. “He’s part of the rebel group and he needs to address the issues, and one is his parents. The character goes really deep into that storyline…and I’m saying too much.” A second clip was shown, featuring Ezra going up against some Stormtroopers.
Filoni talked about Chopper’s “character arc,” saying that he starts a jerk and does one good thing this season, not unlike a temperamental cat.
Eckstein talked about the big Ahsoka reveal in season one. “The second that the episode ended on the east coast, I went on Twitter and tweeted ‘Ahsoka lives’ and spoiled it for the west coast. Sorry! So may of the fans guessed that Fulcrum was Ahsoka and they pitched up my voice online, so I went away into hiding because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise… In 2013, I was eating my blueberry pancakes and sobbing [when she left ‘Clone Wars’] and I was cheering for her return.”
Gellar spoke to playing female characters that young girls can aspire to. “I’m part of Star Wars. I’m a character that will live on and on, and that’s so overwhelming. I think sometimes Star Wars gets a bad rap for not having female characters, but go back to the original series and Leia was captured, but she fought her own battles. And then there’s Padme, and Ahsoka and Sabine…”
Filoni clarified that Ahsoka won’t be part of the Ghost crew. “She comes in and out of the story, like ‘Lord of the Rings’ when Gandalf shows up to guide people,” said Filoni. “She deals with the bigger, darker problems. Our Rebels are trying to figure out how to strike back against the empire. All our stories this year give us more backstory about who they are. There are little clues throughout the season that reveal what happened to her since ‘Clone Wars.’ They’re based on stories we had written for ‘Clone Wars’ that I discussed with George [Lucas].” Filoni added that he hasn’t seen a Star Wars character go from a kid to an adult mentor on the cartoons. “The one thing I will say is that Ashley has absolutely no idea what happens to her this year. We are done with it, and I know what happens. Taylor doesn’t know, Sarah doesn’t know; that part of the script didn’t make it to the recording booth to spare them the pressure of what happened.”
Gray said that Ezra still holds Kanan in high regard. “Now he’s making himself more well rounded and learning a lot by having these other mentors, so I don’t think it affects the bond he has with Kanan. If anything it makes it stronger.”
A third clip was played teasing a massive fight between Ahsoka and the Seventh Sister, cutting off with the ex-Jedi mid-jump into the fray.
An audience member asked Filoni if we’ll get to see Ahsoka or Rex confront Darth Vader and notice that he’s Anakin. “You’re going to deny it because you believe in that person,” said Filoni. “How can I believe they’d do this? You don’t want to believe the truth in a lot of cases. For a lot of emotional, in-depth things, get back to the people that they are. At the end of the day, it’s a group of three friends that are in a horrible situation.”
“I’m more confused than before that question!” joked Gellar.
“Ten years of practice,” said Filoni.
The next audience member teared up when telling Gellar how much Buffy means to her, the inspiration that Buffy was to her growing up. Gellar, touched by this, walked to the gate at the foot of the stage and hugged the audience member. Eckstein then talked about her fangirl moment with Gellar, praising the actress and what she’s accomplished. “It’s an honor to just be on the same show as you,” said Eckstein.
“Ahsoka is my daughter’s all-time favorite character, and my daughter had to get two teeth pulled on my first day recording,” and Gellar said Eckstein recorded a video for her daughter encouraging her to be brave like a Jedi. The video inspired Gellar’s daughter, with Gellar stating that she got a “Let’s go pull some teeth!” attitude after watching the video.
A fan asked when they could see Boba Fett, to which Filoni retorted: “If you walk around the show floor long enough…”
The panel closed with one final video, a brand new trailer for “Star Wars Rebels” season 2 making its debut at the convention.
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