On Aug. 15, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Warner Bros. Pictures will release the first-ever animated STAR WARS feature film — STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. This expansive space adventure explores the galaxy-changing Clone Wars, a period of intense battle and grand adventure that takes place between STAR WARS: Episode II Attack of the Clones and STAR WARS: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. In this interview, STAR WARS creator George Lucas and CLONE WARS director Dave Filoni discuss this groundbreaking new movie from Lucasfilm Animation.
: How did the idea of an animated STAR WARS movie come about?
: The interesting thing about the Clone Wars is that in the normal course of the six STAR WARS films that tell the Skywalker saga, that whole story of what happened during this time is not told – it’s skipped over. We have a little bit of the beginning in Episode II and a little bit of the end in Episode III. But, obviously, during a war there are lots and lots of stories — very exciting action, drama, heartbreak, even humor. The idea of doing an animated version of THE CLONE WARS was intriguing to me because it really allows us to tell other stories, show other Jedi, introduce new characters and even tell stories about the clones themselves. Some of them have very interesting stories. It allows us to broaden the canvas of what STAR WARS is about.
: One of the things that has always surprised me is how many stories there are to tell in what seems like a small amount of time. The period between Episodes II and III was only about three years. But we can tell so many new stories and meet new characters and go new places — places I never imagined we could.
: What does animation bring to the STAR WARS Saga?
: Right from the very beginning, we knew we wanted to use CG animation in a way that hasn’t been seen before. We think we’ve ended up with something that is very new and different. Stylistically, a CG-animated film is quite different from a live-action movie. Animation opens up the possibilities of what you can accomplish. Animation is like a sketchpad.
: There is infinite flexibility when we do a scene. We don’t have to go dig for original props or call actors back to reshoot. With animation, we can look at a scene in editorial, then go back and redo it completely differently the next day. That would be impossible in live-action. We have all of our sets, all of our actors at our disposal at all times. We can make things the way we’d like to see them, which is really exciting.
: What can you tell us about the newest STAR WARS heroine, Ahsoka?
: Anakin and Obi-Wan have a great relationship, but we’ve seen their dynamic in the movies.
: We always felt it was important to have a character whose temperament is somewhere between Anakin’s and Obi-Wan’s. Anakin will just jump in anywhere, while Obi-Wan wants to think things through before taking action. Ahsoka appreciates Anakin’s brashness but admires Obi-Wan’s patience and thoughtfulness. She has a lot to learn from both of them, but is strong and capable in her own right, so she sometimes surprises Anakin with her approach to the kinds of situations they find themselves in. She makes a great counterpoint to Anakin — visually, in her personality, her attitude. She sort of drives him crazy, but he grows very attached to her, as you’ll see in the movie.
: In the STAR WARS films, there’s a tradition of someone being taken on an amazing journey and learning to become a Jedi — Luke was a farm boy swept up in the Rebel Alliance. Anakin was a little boy on Tatooine. In THE CLONE WARS, Anakin is no longer a Padawan. He’s a Jedi. So Ahsoka takes on that role of the younger person who is being taught, who adds the dynamic that a “student” brings to the story. We bounced back and forth on a lot of ideas about her — would she be human or alien, male or female? We thought a girl would be just more fun to have in the story.
: THE CLONE WARS gives you a great chance to explore characters outside of the Skywalker saga. Who are some of your favorites?
: I’ve always liked Duros – the blue aliens from the cantina scene in A New Hope. They’re a derivation of Neimoidians — Neimoidians are greener. Wrinklier.
: For me, it’s the Jedi Council. I love the opportunity to explore these characters we saw so briefly, but who are in their time legendary — Kit Fisto, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Luminara, Plo Koon ...
: If it were up to Dave, Plo Koon would be in every scene! It’s great that Dave’s got characters he really cares about, and who don’t have to just be in battles or short scenes or in the background somewhere.
: That’s what’s really important. I care about these characters, and what happens to them, how they evolve in the film — that’s an adventure we’re really excited to show in the movie.
: How would you describe the look of THE CLONE WARS?
: In THE CLONE WARS, all of the characters and the environments look almost like they’re painted, which gives the movie a very distinctive look. We also drew some influences from manga and anime in our filmmaking style, which have very dramatic lighting and very aggressive framing.
: STAR WARS is already so brilliantly designed, if you look at the art direction of the feature films. It was important to maintain that integrity but give the audience something they haven’t seen before. The look is more stylized. It’s not concerned with photorealism; it’s more concerned with establishing its own visual reality, kind of in the same way a painter might use different techniques to create different looks. We’re using CG as a tool to create a stylized reality.
: I think we’ve created some unusual, cinematic-style storytelling, something completely different from anything else in animation.
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The Voice Cast
MATT LANTER (Voice of Anakin Skywalker)
was born in northeastern Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent much of his time playing baseball, football and golf. His love for baseball led him to a position as a batboy with the Atlanta Braves. However, it was while at the University of Georgia that he fell in love with acting. After participating in the 2004 Bravo show "Manhunt," he decided to move to Los Angeles to follow his dream of becoming an actor.
Lanter began his acting career with "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" and has made several guest appearances on shows such as "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI," "Big Love" and "Monk." He has also had recurring roles on two of the most popular shows on television, NBC's "Heroes" and CBS' "Shark." However, he is most recognized for his role as Geena Davis' son on ABC's "Commander in Chief."
Lanter has starred in multiple films, most recently as the lead in Lionsgate's upcoming "Disaster Movie," as well as MGM's "Wargames 2: The Dead Code." He also made his theater debut opposite Laurence Fishburne in Alfred Uhry's "Without Walls" at the Mark Taper Forum. Additionally, he can be seen in the lead role of the third installment of "The Cutting Edge" film series.
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN (Voice of Ahsoka Tano)
was born in Louisville, KY and raised in Orlando, FL, where she grew up a true blue Disney kid with an extensive "Alice in Wonderland" collection. She fell in love with acting at an early age and started her career doing theater before landing a role in a television show for Sea World called "Shamu TV."
Eckstein moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting full-time, and her first appearance on "JAG" set the stage for a promising career. She was soon cast as Jan Brady in "The Brady Bunch in the White House." Since then, she has been a regular cast member on the hit TV show "Blue Collar TV" and is well known among kids and teens for her roles on "Phil of the Future," "Drake and Josh" and, most notably, as Muffy on "That's So Raven." Eckstein recently starred in "Alice Upside Down," alongside Penny Marshall and Alyson Stoner, and "Sydney White," where she shared the screen with Amanda Bynes.
JAMES ARNOLD TAYLOR (Voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi)
has a versatile vocal range which has given him success in every facet of the voiceover industry, including lead roles in animated films such as "TMNT," "The Animatrix," "Hellboy: Blood & Iron" and "Atlantis: Milo's Return." On TV, Taylor stars in "Johnny Test," "A.T.O.M.," "Drawn Together," "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" and "The Spectacular Spider-Man."
Some of Taylor's most celebrated work comes from video games: the "Final Fantasy X" series, the "Ratchet & Clank" series and the "Syphon Filter" series, as well as numerous voices in games like "Shrek," "Spider-Man," "Speed Racer," "The Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," to name a few. A unique aspect of Taylor's work is voice-doubling. When celebrities are not available to do their own voice, Taylor seamlessly fills in as David Spade, Michael J. Fox, Billy Bob Thornton, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp...and the list goes on. Another great honor for Taylor is providing the voice of the cartoon icon Fred Flintstone.
DEE BRADLEY BAKER (Voice of Captain Rex)
has, over the past two decades, built an extraordinary career with his amazing vocal range, his knack for dialects and for creating realistic animal, alien or monster sounds. His voice work is featured in countless projects, including "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "Codename: Kids Next Door," zombies in the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" and creatures in the "Halo," "Spore" and "Gears of War" video games, as well as Disney's "Phineas and Ferb" television series and a featured voice role in the movie "Happy Feet."
Baker's most recent credits include "American Dad," in which he is the voice of Klaus, and the super alien creatures in Cartoon Network's new series "Ben 10: Alien Force."
NIKA FUTTERMAN (Voice of Asajj Ventress)
was born and raised in New York City, the daughter of a music producer and an artist. When she was 12, she attended Performing Arts Boarding School in Massachusetts. Later, she attended Bennington College in Vermont for a year before transferring to Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Soon after graduation, she moved to San Francisco to attend the American Conservatory Theater. She eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she began her career guest-starring in such shows as "Murphy Brown," "Chicago Hope" and "Suddenly Susan."
Futterman's voiceover career started in 1995 when she began doing shows such as "Hey Arnold!," "Woody Woodpecker" and "CatDog." Since then, she's gone on to voice hundreds of roles for movies, shows, video games and commercials. Her most recent credits include "Ant Bully," "Open Season," "My Gym Partner is a Monkey," "Handy Manny," "Maya and Miguel," "Jakers" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Recent video game work includes "Spider-man," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow," "Tony Hawk," "Justice League," "Blue Dragon," "Scarface," "24," "Ratchett and Klank" and "Halo 3."
IAN ABERCROMBIE (Voice of Chancellor Palpatine)
is a British-born actor who made his American stage debut in 1955 in a production of "Stalag 17." His theater credits include "Hamlet," "Private Lives," "Bent," "Mary Stuart," "The Vortex," "Sweet Prince," with Keir Dullea, "A Doll's House," with Linda Purl, "Crucifer of Blood," with Charlton Heston, "My Fair Lady" and "The Arcata Promise," opposite Anthony Hopkins, just to name a few.
Abercrombie also starred in two TV shows: "Birds of Prey" and "Chromiumblue.com." He has also made well over a hundred guest appearances on such series as "Seinfeld," as Mr Pitt, "Nip/Tuck," "Desperate Housewives," "Charmed," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Babylon 5," "Murphy Brown," "Dynasty," "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Twin Peaks." Abercrombie also provides voice work on radio, CD-ROMS, films and commercials. The 70 films in which he has appeared include "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," "Mousehunt," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Firewalker," "Army of Darkness" and "Young Frankenstein."
COREY BURTON (Voice of Ziro the Hutt)
began his voice acting career over 30 years ago at the tender age of 17. He studied the craft of Radio Drama with the legendary Daws Butler (Yogi Bear) and had the rare opportunity to work alongside nearly all the original Hollywood Radio Theatre veterans in classic-style broadcasts.
The San Fernando Valley native has voiced sound-alikes and original characters for hundreds of entertainment and educational productions, as well as for Disney and Universal Theme Parks worldwide. Additionally, Burton has been a promotional announcer for each of the major TV networks and a narrator on an eclectic assortment of documentaries.
Burton's TV animation voice credits span several popular Disney and Warner Bros. series, along with Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and various syndicated productions. His film work includes most Disney releases over the past two decades, including in the main cast ensemble as Moliere in "Atlantis" and Cap'n Hook in "Return to Neverland."
He is also known for precision A.D.R./looping work featured in many prominent movies, including "E.T.," "Total Recall" and "Poltergeist." In the world of commercials, he is best known as Old Navy's signature voice.
CATHERINE TABER (Voice of Padme Amidala)
is a Georgia native who made her feature film debut starring in the coming-of-age dramedy "The Girls' Room." Taber began voice acting in 2003 when she was cast as Mission Vao in the LucasArts project "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic." Her other credits include "Just Like Heaven," with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, "Stroker and Hoop" and the video game "X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse."
Taber will additionally star in numerous sci-fi video games, including "Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.," "Rise of the Argonauts" and the highly anticipated "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed," in which she will play young Princess Leia.
In 2007, Taber was nominated for a NAViGaTR Award (National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers) for her portrayal of Penelo in "Final Fantasy XII."
Clone Wars opens in theaters on August 15, 2008. Be sure to check out our IMAGE GALLERY
below for tons of images from this upcoming summer blockbuster.