Friday morning saw the return of Jedi, Stormtroopers, and even a few Jawas to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for Star Wars Celebration VI. The first panel of the day saw the stars of Star Wars: The Clone Wars take the main Celebration Stage to talk about their craft, the show, and maybe even some hints about season five of the show.
Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex and the clones), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), Tom Kane (Yoda), and Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker) join host James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) for what’s sure to be a fun morning panel!
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The panel started with a “greatest hits” sizzle real of The Clone Wars, with the largest applause coming for Darth Maul when he appeared on screen.
James Arnold Taylor, the host of the main stage, literally ran out, jumping down into the audience giving out high fives.
“I don’t know if everyone knows, I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars. I’m also a voice actor, I know people are looking at me saying ‘who’s this guy that looks like David Spade and sounds like Michael J Fox?”
He went through a huge list of voices that he’s done… it’s scary how many voices he has. He also plugged his one man show “Talking To Myself” which premieres a special one hour version Saturday Night at the show.
“I would say this if I didn’t do a voice on this show, I think it’s the best on television. I love that you’re supporting the voice actors of this show.”
He brought the actors out, Matt, Dee, Tom Kane, and Ashley. Dee did the Perry the Platypus “trill” to applause.
“I’m Dee Bradley Baker, I do the voice of the CLONES on Star Wars The Clone Wars. And for those of you that love the clones… there’s a lot coming this season that will make you happy.”
“I’m Tom Kane, I’m the opening narrator” and some guy named Yoda. He went through some of his other voices across many shows.
Ashley Eckstein is “the mvoice of Ahsoka Tano” which got a lot of screams and cheers. “No one wants to know what will eventually happen to her. I don’t have a long list of voices that I do…”
Kane: “When you look like that you don’t have to!”
Ashley: “Oh, thanks! I miss my other girls up here though.”
JAT: “Before we go any further, I want to dedicate this panel to Ian Abercrombie, who passed away this year.”
Matt Lanter introduced himself as Anakin Skywalker, amongst several others. Taylor asked him how he got the part.
Lanter: “I got called in for ‘Deek Starkiller’ and it was very nerve wracking. I was really scared. An interesting tidbit, I was recast as Anakin, they had recorded a few episodes with someone else, and I had to go into the LucasRanch and re-record over his stuff for those first few.”
Ashley said she “had no idea” her role would be so pivotal. She was originally called in for Padme, and the auditions were running late, it was her last one after a long day. She walked in and they said “No, you sound way too young for Padme. But there’s this new character, a 14 year old girl with an icelandic accent that we think you’d be great for.”
Taylor: “Oh, she was supposed to have an accent? That would’ve been tough.”
Ashley: “It would’ve been tough, and it wouldn’t have been me. I couldn’t do it, I tried to study an Icelandic accent and couldn’t nail it. They wanted her to sound like Bjork and I couldn’t do it.”
Taylor: “Now Matt, you’ve been doing Yoda for years, right?”
Matt: “Yeah, as Frank Oz got more and more successful it was hard for him to go back and do other voicework for other directors. I started doing Yoda in little bits and pieces, and Frank finally said “yeah, I’m retired from that.” George just said “let’s just keep using Tom!”" Kane did, however, have to read for his other roles like the narrator and the admirals he has voiced.
As for Dee Bradley Baker?
Baker: “You know, at the time, I was known for sound effects! So to be brought in for something as straight ahead as a soldier, I would never think of myself for that role, but Dave Filoni and Andrea Romano who was helping Dave cast that show, they knew my work from Avatar, the Nickelodeon series. So they brought me in and I got the role.”
Taylor moved into a little trivia portion, where he decided to test his fellow actors’ knowledge.
“We have four people who have played Jedi on this stage, so let’s see who gets the most questions right and has the highest Midichlorian count!” announced Taylor.
Ashely got the first question, just a simple identification of Chewie. Matt Lanter knew his right hand was cut off as Anakin. Dee got one as well, but Ashley jumped on many questions and was the clear biggest fan. They all had some fun shouting over each other, and Ashley did wind up winning.
Matt Lanter did the Anakin voice and said “I’d like to check your Midichlorian Count” as a pick-up line, apparently a joke from Star Wars Weekends.
Dee Bradley Baker, after the raucous trivia event, did a quick demo of doing some creature sounds from Clone Wars. After his demonstration, Ashley asked the interpreter “Is there actually sign language for the signs that Dee just made?”
The interpreter did a little trill with his hand under his neck. Lots of applause for that.
Taylor then asked Matt how Star Wars has affected his acting career outside of the show.
“A couple years a go I did a movie called Sorority Row and it had Carrie Fisher in it. I went up to her and said ‘so hey, I’m your dad, and it’s really cool.’ She like signaled for someone to take me away. I have done some other voices too, I’m on Ultimate Spider-Man.”
Taylor, “Oh, I was on a Spider-Man series, I was Harry Osborn! Who are you playing now?”
Lanter, “Um… Harry Osborn.”
They looked awkwardly at each other, and Taylor switched seats with Baker to lots of laughs.
Lanter also does Venom on the show. He did a voice on Scooby Doo where the villainous version of his character was played by mark Hammil. “I’m your dad!” he joked again.
Taylor praised Tom Kane’s ubiquity in voice over work, including the announcement voice for TED which he said was basically Captain Picard, then joking in the voice, “Ensign Crusher, in my bedroom. Get ready!” to laughter.
Kane said when people find out he’s Yoda in other voice sessions, he often signs pictures of Yoda for their kids. “Most people don’t know I’m Yoda, they talk to me for an hour and I don’t sound anything like that.”
Taylor moved the conversation over to Ashley and the Her Universe geek apparel for women and girls brand she runs.
Eckstein “Early into the series, I went to StarWars.com and wanted to buy some new Star Wars shirts, and there wasn’t a single one for women on there. I did some research, found that almost half of Star Wars fans are women, and I went to LucasFilm to say I wanted more female shirts. They really supported me and let me start to do that.”
Eckstein also announced that the Ahsoka costume hoodie will be out for adults for the first time in October 2012.
“And now… questions from the Council” aka Fan Q&A!
Q: What input do you guys have in story/dialogue?
Baker: “Our input is pretty limited, it’s in a limited time. Our window is narrow. We get a script based off something that’s already staged, we do the voiceover, then they fully animate. Sometimes we’ll add a little in after.”
Q: Some voices are very natural, but some you have to work on, what’s the difference for you?
Lanter: “Well Anakin for me, is pretty much just my voice but a little deeper, so that one is very easy.”
Baker: “If any of you want to be a voice actor or the career of it, I laid out info on a website called IWannaBeAVoiceActor.com We’re also all on twitter, so please follow and we’ll try to interact on there!”
Q: How has the Clone Wars recording changed over the years from when you first got into the studio to now?
Kane: “Well, it’s gotten better! When the movie came out, it was unfortunate, to release it as a film wasn’t LucasFilm’s idea, that was Warner Bros. It was a little nervewracking. If you look at what we’ve done now, it’s evolved, it’s a much better show. And I’m not blowing smoke, but the next season is even better.”
Q: I’m wondering what happened to Ahsoka after the Clone Wars?
Baker: I’m wondering that too!
Taylor: Yeah, I think we’ll find out at some point…
Baker: I want to know what happens to Rex, and what happens to Ventress! But We don’t know!
Lanter: “There’s actually a little something Ashley and I have recorded that you guys don’t know about. You were all kicked out of the studio.”
Ashley: “Yeah, we do have that scene!”
With that, the actors read a scene that James Arnold Taylor wrote, to demonstrate their voices. That’s all for this panel, folks. Stay tuned for the special announcement of Seth Green and the team behind Robot Chicken’s new animated series at around noon today!