STAR WARS REBELS

There is a new hope in the Star Wars franchise. As those that watched Star Wars Rebels on Disney Channel probably realize, Star Wars continues to focus on something that Disney, Pixar, and Marvel also excel at; story remains king. At a recent press conference for Star Wars Rebels it became clear that we have entered a new age at Lucasfilm. While George Lucas is off focusing on his family and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, a second generation is telling new stories taking place in the Star Wars Universe.

While the stories are new, the visual look is not. When Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy approached producer Dave Filoni about working on a new series, he was excited about the prospect of working on a show set just five years prior to Episode IV, as this would allow him to channel legendary Star Wars designer Ralph McQuarrie. For the uninitiated McQuarrie is the designer credited with creating designs for the Star Wars characters such as Darth Vader and C-3P0 and many of the films sets. His work became legendary as his unique visual style left an incredible mark on the saga. Rebels, due to its time period, is able to pull many McQuarrie designs which gives the show a familiar feel.

VANESSA MARSHALL, TAYLOR GRAY, FREDDIE PRINZE JR., DAVE FILONI (CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), TIYA SIRCAR, STEVE BLUM, AT-DP PILOTS

The other aspect of Rebels that might feel familiar is the tone. Star Wars Rebels is made for kids, just as Star Wars is made for kids. But that doesn’t mean it is unwatchable for adults. In fact, there is a fair amount of darkness in the show. While the show may not get as dark as The Clone Wars, the producers know they have to not speak down to kids to make it both palatable for adults and feel honest for younger viewers. In fact, FIloni says he gets the greatest joy when fans tell him that their whole family watches together as he knows, “that is what George always intended Star Wars to be.”

It's not just the producers who are enthusiastic about the show. As you could expect, the voice cast is excited about being a part of the Star Wars Universe. For example, Freddie Prinze Jr who voices Kanan Jarrus, has a scar on his chin from playing “lightsaber” with his cousin. And while he tried to keep his role a secret from his daughter, he has won some cool points after a schoolmate clued her in.

KANAN, AT-DP PILOT, FREDDIE PRINZE JR., EZRA, STEVE BLUM, CHOPPER, DAVE FILONI (CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), TAYLOR GRAY, VANESSA MARSHALL, TIYA SIRCAR, R2-D2, AT-DP PILOT, SABINE, HERA

Speaking of the voice cast, they actually record in the studio together which is a rarity in the industry. This allows the voice cast to fall-in to similar roles as their characters. Vanessa Marshall who voices Hera, is the mother of the group while Freddie Prinze Jr has been mentoring Taylor Gray who portrays Ezra. For those of you who have seen the show, you know this fits. Recording as an ensemble also allows the actors to suggest small changes if they feel a slight change to a line might work better for their character.

The cast also views this show as the appetizer to the main course of Episode VII, and with that knowledge comes a lot of pressure. The cast has said the fans have helped dissipate the daunting feeling as the fans have been very supportive at fan events such as Star Wars Weekends and through social media like Twitter.

I would like to go off book here. While reaction to Star Wars: The Clone Wars was mixed, many of the cast became fan favorites through their interaction with the Star Wars faithful online and through fan events. Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor are now staples at Star Wars Weekends, and Eckstein even parlayed her success into the Her Universe live of fangirl clothing and accessories. The Star Wars Rebels cast has that same energy and enthusiasm. As the fan community gets to know them, I have no doubt that they will have a similar type of allegiance from the fans.

However, I digress. I started this article by mentioning that a new generation of storytellers is taking into the future. That doesn’t mean they don’t care what George Lucas has to say. Dave Filoni has lunch with George from time to time, but normally don’t discuss Star Wars. One day, George asked how that new show was going, so several weeks ago they screened it for him and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He also spent some time discussing the show with the creative team. Filoni said that for those who are custodians in the new Lucasfilm era, and George liking it felt like passing their big final exam.

Star Wars Rebels airs Monday nights on Disney XD and I encourage everyone, from Star Wars die-hards  to casual fans, to tune in.