f you are a Star Wars fan, then you probably know about Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. If you're a HUGE Star Wars fan, you were probably AT Star Wars Celebration Anaheim! I was there, and it was an amazing four days packed with more Star Wars than you can throw a Lightsaber at. In the coming weeks I've got plenty to share, and I'd like to start with what had to be my favorite moment of the entire weekend, The Star Wars Rebels press conference that I was invited to. In attendance were Executive Producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg. They were joined by actor Freddie Prinze Jr. and the rest of the main voice cast. Prior to the press conference we were shown an extended trailer for Star Wars Rebels Season 2.

As you can see, Darth Vader has arrived, and he's bringing the Dark Side with him. Of course the big question on everyones mind was:

Who was that voicing Darth Vader?

Simon Kinberg - "The same person who voiced Darth Vader in the original movies, James Earl Jones. When Dave (Filoni) first worked with James on the dialogue he sent me voice recordings, clips essentially, of the dailies. Hearing all of the different takes, and hearing James Earl Jones reading the lines that Dave and I had written together was pretty insane. You think, I'm going to write lines for Darth Vader, but I'm not actually going to get Darth Vader to say them out loud, and I was listening to Darth Vader saying them out loud."

Dave Filoni - "And James is great, you don't really have to direct him much. He said: "You know David, I haven't really done this in 10 years, could you remind me..." and I'm like, "no you're doing it." Matt Wood and I'd just look at each other and kind of high five when he's not looking, it was an awesome moment."

Simon Kinberg - "There were a couple moments in the takes where he coughed or he corrected himself and started over, and so all of the sudden you realize there is a man playing Darth Vader. Sort of like being a child and having the helmet come off."

How did it feel working on the Clone Wars and now Rebels?

Dave Filoni - "This is my 10th year at LucasFilm creating Star Wars content. For me it's just fun, the story gets bigger, the stakes get higher, as it should be. I feel we're kind of moving into our Empire Strikes Back era for our characters where they're really challenged. I think there is an automatic pressure when you're doing anything that has the words Star Wars in the title. So I don't know if there are increased or decreased amounts of pressure."

Simon Kinberg - "I think you always feel the responsibility...its like writing books of the bible."

Fans have lovingly begun referring to Ezra as "Space Aladdin". Was Aladdin an inspiration for the character, and are there any other Disney easter eggs we should be on the lookout for?

Dave Filoni - "That was a flattering comparison, and I have to say that as someone who grew up loving animation, it's a great film (Aladdin) and a great character Disney had created. Ezra's design came about because I was sketching on my kitchen table at home one day, and my wife happened to pass the table and I said: "What do you think of this?" and she was like: "Well it's okay, but it looks like everything else." This was before I changed the design, and so it kind of made me look back at a lot of different heroes and character actors. Oddly, Aladdin wasn't one of them. If anything, I looked a little bit at Ralph Macchio. I don't do hidden Mickeys or stuff like that, its cool for the parks, people find those all the time, maybe my designers put them in, I don't know."

Steve Blum - (in Zeb's voice) "Zebs a secret Disney Princess."

It was announced that Sarah Michelle Gellar would be joining the cast for season 2. Can you tease anything about her character, or how soon well see her, and what was she like in the recording booth?

Freddie Prinze Jr. - "Who my wife? She played the Wookie in season one.

Freddie, your character is still shrouded in mystery. How much of your characters back story did you get when you took on the roll of Kanan, and are we going to find out more about him in season 2?

Freddie Prinze Jr. - "Dave gave everyone a really big breakdown of what made these characters tick so that our season one performances would be reflective of the history thats gone on so far. So I knew about his master, I knew about order 66, I knew about all that and how it effected him, and what he did during that time. In season two, as far as Kanan's character goes, you're gonna learn a lot about why he is who he is today, why he's the type of teacher he is, his qualities, and his faults. You'll find out a lot of that through a very special character who kind of helps motivate some of those feelings to come out. You'll definitely get the answers to pretty much all the questions you have. There'll still be a couple you know, they made you wait three movies before Vader got it in the end, so you gotta wait a little bit. But yeah, we give you a lot more in season two."

You mentioned that If the story was right there are certain characters you might consider bringing back. Are there any characters from the previous stories or even the now defunct expanded universe that you'd be interested in bringing into the fold?

Dave Filoni - "I think you always have characters in mind that you'd like to see. We throw names around the room. I mean, everybody in the writers room is a fan, so everybody has certain characters that they would love to see, and sometimes you're never sure how serious people are or not when they bring characters up. You have to be careful with that, because if you're joking and say: "How 'bout we bring Porkins in, that'd be great." and then all of a sudden something happens and you're like: "Hey, Porkins would fit for that." But you never know. I'm not sure what makes us decide a particular character is coming in or out. Sometimes we'll get to talking when we're in the script phase, and there's so many cool things happening in the script, I literally only have 21 minutes and 30 seconds. Sometimes we'll try to spread stuff out. We work on this up until the last minute possible. Nothing is ever set in stone, everything is changeable. It's not like we get the script, that's the blue print, we follow it. We deconstruct it along the way, try to get it as right as we can. Luckily I work with guys like Simon and Greg (Weisman), and they're really good at moving through (the script) as I'm trying to direct it, and get the best story we can."

Simon Kinberg - "We get a lot of brainstorming time, so we get a lot of blue sky meetings. What should this season be, and we really spend, probably, months on that. Were doing it while we're writing episodes for the previous season. There is a lot of time to dream and to play around."

With the spin off film Star Wars Rogue One taking place in the same time period as Rebels, how much effort is going into tying the animated series to the movies and books?

Dave Filoni - "With all of the creative collaboration we know what everyone else is doing. The purpose of that is so that were always aware of continuity in the different stories. If there was a situation where that was happening then we would absolutely know in detail what was going on, and I could inform my actors or writers as necessary. That's kind of the beauty of the new story group scenario, its all inner connected. Story group is the one who comes in and says I like that idea but thats going to be happening somewhere over here."

How many seasons do you think Rebels will run?

Dave Filoni - "As far as how many seasons we could go, I'm not exactly sure, I never know. I got asked that every year on Clone Wars. In all honesty, I thought it was a two year job when I started it. I think I have a little more of an arc in mind for Rebels. We talk about that bigger picture because we are running up to A New Hope. That is a flag pole that we know, so thats kind of a question of how were going to deal with that incident in the galaxy should our timeline reach that."

What's the drive behind season two?

Simon Kinberg - "Sort of new challenges to the family, from the outside rather then the inside. I think in many ways, in the first season, the challenge was integrating a new member of the family into an existing family, and thats difficult to do. There's a lot of things in real life that are real life corollaries for what the first season was exploring. The second season is now that they are essentially, with there normal family issues, a unit, it's sort of how do they continue to grow individually, and how do they stay together, as each one of them is facing new challenges, and in some ways growing up. I think a lot of the second season is about Ezra facing some sort of darker issues and being forced to grow up."

What's it like seeing fans costuming as characters that you created?

Dave Filoni - "Ventress will walk into the room, and its like I drew that outfit on a piece of paper one day. It never ever, ever ever gets old. I was out in the convention and Zeb walked up to me. It's what its all about, and the amount of work that everybody does to make those costumes is, I mean I just love it, I super appreciate it."

Simon Kinberg - "My favorite one was last year at Comic Con there was a cosplay Dave Filoni. One of the things about the show when we started it was the instinct that if you were creating a new show, and it's the first thing from the new LucasFilm, essentially you would lean on the legacy characters. You would make an animated show based on the brand names that everyone knows, and we did the opposite. All these guys up here are obviously completely original characters, and that was a bold thing to do. It was something that wasn't what immediately clicked and made sense for all the powers that be. We had an obligation to create characters that were as compelling as the greatest characters of all time, because that's who they're competing with. So to come here and see the kind of energy and affection that people have for these characters that didn't exist two years ago, is pretty incredible. Like Dave said, the amount of time that someone stitches together a costume based on a character that literally did not exist outside of someone's imagination a year and a half, two years ago, is surreal and very gratifying."

What was behind the decision to give all of the main characters biblical names?

Freddie Prinze Jr. - "Is Chopper New Testament or Old Testament?"

What's it like working at LucasFilm now that George is less present?

Dave Filoni - "The way that he cut Star Wars together, it had so much to do with the way the films feel, the way the footage is cut together. He used to tell me all the time: "I'm teaching you this stuff so that when Im gone, it will still carry on the way I want it to." and I'm like: "Uh huh, like I'm gonna be here longer than you...that's fascinating." He just kept telling me: "You know I'm going to retire one day." and I'm like: "Uh huh...you're gonna retire. Well you can retire from giving me notes today because I have a lot to do." But you know, I heard about this far away world where he described being retired, I just didn't really believe it until he sold the entire company, then I had to believe it. I've taken that very seriously. I feel a great deal of responsibility to George as someone that I worked with for a long time. We all realized that no one is going to replace George, its just not going to happen. What I think is amazing about the group of people that we have working on the story is that it's a collective group of people that love Star Wars. Actually, if you get to talk to them, they all love different aspects of it. My feeling, from my perspective working here so long, is that each person brings their own aspect and love of Star Wars to the story, and together, just maybe, we can combine to make something Star Wars. Maybe that way, we come close to equalling the genius George has, which I hold in very high esteem. I think that's the best way to work. I thing that we're aware of the challenge, that we take the responsibility seriously, and my work flow is very similar to the way that it was before. It's just now, instead of one person to go to for "the Commandments" I talk to a group of people, and together we come up with the answer. You know the nice thing is, were usually all on the same page."

Simon Kinberg - "The first time I met him (George), I went up to meet him before he sold to Disney. I think he'd hired Kathy to run the company. They wanted to expand, he had ideas for new movies, and so I came up to meet him. I'd never met him before. I'm very phobic of flying, so when I'm flying I have to take anti-anxiety medication...so thats more then you need to know, but what it does is it gets me a tiny bit loopy. I need to know that I have a certain amount of hours when I get off the plane before I meet George, so that I'm completely clear and focused. So we get up there, we were meeting for lunch. We get there at like 9 in the morning and they're like: "He's ready now." and I'm like: "No no, I'm still on my medication, I'm not in a good place to meet George Lucas for the first time." and it was like: "No, it's right now, it's happening." They took me in, and I actually think that the anti-anxiety medication helped me stay calm to meet George Lucas for the first time, because I probably would have had a panic attack."

How did George feel about Rebels?

Simon Kinberg - "So it was really important to us to share the show with George. When we finished the two pilot episodes we went up to Skywalker and screened it just for him. For me, it was the strangest experience of my life. The only thing I can compare it to is the bible, like sitting next to god, not even the guy who wrote the bible...god. He was enjoying it, and I was just clocking him the whole time. The lights came up and he says terrific, and really loved it. He had the same kind of passion for it that we obviously have for everything he created. So yeah, what Dave's saying is 100 percent right, we're all just sort of channeling him as we're working on anything Star Wars related."

Dave Filoni - "For me it was like taking a final exam. You know I had been learning at Star Wars University for years, and here is the first thing I've done without him entirely. It was an awesome experience, and to share it with you guys, it really solidified our group, you know that we've gotten this right, that was a great moment."

I imagine dealing your own characters is easy, were there any challenges maintaing the integrity of George's characters?

Dave Filoni - "With Vader in particular it's a big challenge. You cant undermine his power, and I think with the trailer you see that we really haven't done that. What's been interesting about Vader is that there has been a lot of instinct to, now that were not encumbered to what the suit limitations were, as far as fighting, you know he could be faster, quicker if we wanted him to be, but we absolutely did not go that way. If you watch the trailer you can see that the animation team did a meticulous job of studying his fighting style so that it's very true to the stature and the power that Vader has. He was never acrobatic in particular, he was never that fast, he was just a mountain of fear and hate and power, and that's what we tried to throw at Kanan and Ezra when they do have that encounter with him. So again, that's why the group dynamic in story is so important because it will go through a filter of people, everybody reading this script, and together we make sure that we're not going to far with things, that were not undermining things, things that are happening other places that we don't know. We were very careful to not have the Emperor in season one. There would be no reason why he would be involved with our Rebels. Again, the group process is so important to keeping the integrity that you're talking about."

Simon Kinberg - "I think we all see ourselves as custodians of the same flame, and whenever it starts to flicker out a little bit, there are a lot of safe guards along the way that step in to protect it. It's a team of people that love the same thing."

Season two of Star Wars Rebels premiers on Disney XD on Saturday June 20th. I've seen the first episode...you DO NOT want to miss it. If you haven't watched season one yet...why the heck not? Stay tuned for more on my trip to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. Until next time...may the Force be with you! it.  If you haven't watched season one yet...why the heck not?  Stay tuned for more on my trip to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.  Until next time...may the Force be with you!