The ‘shared universe’ looms large over the Star Wars franchise. The concept that everything is interconnected, that everything is a part of the same far away galaxy — all these varied stories taking place in one singular setting, building off one another… Case in point: Star Wars Rebels, in many ways a direct sequel to Clone Wars, fills in the gap between between the new and old film trilogies. The first season of Rebels successfully introduced a bevy of new players into the expanding Star Wars universe (Hera, Kanan, Ezra…). Now in its second season, creators/executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg hope to introduce these newfound characters to some perennial favorites — from Clone Wars (Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex) & from the trilogies (Darth Vader himself). It’s another notch in the synergetic belt of Star Wars.
At the press conference for the second season of Star Wars Rebels, the cast and creators discussed what’s ahead for the show and franchise at large. Below are bullet point highlights from the conference.
- James Earl Jones will be back to voice all of Darth Vader on Rebels. Per Simon Kinberg: “One of many surreal things making the show, maybe the most surreal thing [was] hearing all the different takes, hearing James Earl Jones, untreated, playing the lines that Dave and I had essentially written together.” “You don’t even really direct him,” Filoni added “There were a couple moments in the takes when James would cough or correct himself and start over. All of the sudden you realize there is a man playing Darth Vader. It’s sort of like having the helmet come off all over again.”
- The second season of Rebels will be the “Empire Strikes Back” of the series. “The story gets bigger, the stakes get higher as it should.” Filoni revealed “I feel like we’re moving into our “Empire Strikes Back” era for the characters — where they’re really challenged. The first year was “A New Hope”. Now all these characters have to go through different trials.”
- All the various filmmakers/creators of the Star Wars Universe collaborate together on the franchise. “There’s a story group at Lucasfilm and there is a real communication between all the different stories,” Kinberg said “We talk with the 7,8, & 9 filmmakers, as well as the stand-alone filmmakers. We’re all collaborating together on a huge story that each of us tells a chapter of.” Filoni added, “The purpose of that is so that we’re always aware of the continuity and the different stories. That’s the beauty of the new story group scenario — that it’s all interconnected. This keeps all the stories on track.”
- On How the Original Series is the blueprint for Rebels and beyond: Per Filoni “The first point of entry is the original films. We want the tone, the texture of those movies to be really present in the show. I think the future of the Star Wars movies [has] that same approach — wanting to have the ethos of the original films. Whether it’s video games or the stand-alone movies or what we’re doing on the TV series. Because of that — they all feel of one piece, of a singular voice and vision even though there are different filmmakers involved on each…”
- Freddie Prinze Jr. on what’s in store for his character – the mysterious former Jedi Kanan: “In Season Two, you’re going to learn a lot about why [Kanan] is who he is today. Why he’s the type of teacher he is. You’ll find a lot of that through a special character who brings some of those feelings out… You’ll [also] see him and Ezra go through some growing pains as you would a teenager fight with his father. You’ll see some rejection there. You’ll see Ezra look towards others for advice which will irk Kanan quite a bit. You’ll see Kanan have to deal with Captain Rex, which is a tricky situation given the nature in which he lost his master. So you’ll see a lot of conflict for him.”
- You’ll get a broader look at each of the characters backstories on Star Wars Rebels Season Two. Filoni revealed that all the character’s back stories – Ezra, Hera and even Chopper – will be given additional attention and screen-time. The purpose of the first season was to introduce all these new characters. Now the second season will “explore them in depth and go more into their interpersonal relationships. Each of the characters is going to have to struggle with who they were and where they came from. They’ll be confronted with those pasts. They’re going to have to make a choice about whether they’re going to deal with those past conflicts and let them go or if they’re going to let them drag them back down into who they once were.”
- How many seasons of Star Wars Rebels can there be given the time frame limitations of the series? “I’m not sure how many seasons it could go. I never know.” Filoni shrugged, “ I got asked that question every year on Clone Wars — and I thought it was a two year job in all honesty. I’ve been there ten years now so I never know. As long as there’s a demand for it. I do think I have a little bit more of an arc in mind for Rebels — because we’re running up to A New Hope. That is a flagpole that we know – so it’s a question of how are we going to deal with that incident in the galaxy when our timeline meets it.”
- What is the theme for season two of Rebels? Per Kinberg: “The way we approached season two was to bring new challenges to the family from the outside rather than the inside. In many ways the challenge of the first season was ingratiating a new member into an existing family. For the second season, now that they are a unit, a family — how do they continue to grow individually and how do they stay together as each of them are growing and changing and facing new challenges? A lot of the second season is about Ezra facing some darker issues and being forced to grow up…”