Star Wars Rebels Panel and Press Conference Impressions (SWCA 2015)

Done watching the trailer yet? I don’t blame you if you want to watch it a few more times because it’s truly electrifying. And here I thought nothing could match the excitement I felt after The Force Awakens teaser, but this certainly did the job and did it well. But, if you haven’t watched the live-stream of the panel or saw video of the press conference yet, those details and more are below, with stuff like why Kanan might not like seeing Rex and what character Sarah Michelle Geller already (see: actually didn’t) played in Rebels (also includes gallery).

Hosted by the ever talented James Arnold Taylor, the panel consisted of Taylor Gray (Ezra), Tiya Sircar (Sabine), Steve Blum (Zeb), Vanessa Marshall (Hera), Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan), Simon Kinberg, and Dave Filoni. They were later joined by Dee Bradley Baker (all clones) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) shortly after the trailer premiered to thunderous applause and giant cheers for Captain Rex’s anticipated return, Hondo’s involvement, and Vader’s power.

Star Wars Rebels Panel and Press ConferenceOne of the biggest things from the panel was the team dynamic from the show’s cast is easily palpable. They have a familial feel to their interactions, much like the Ghost crew themselves, and that’s partly the reason why it’s so easy to understand the nature of their relationships with one another in the show. Tiya and Steve teased each other a whole lot during the panel, but in the end everyone, including Filoni, joked about Steve, saying he’s the, “…least professional,” and mentioned he could burp on command…which he proceeded to do. It was a really humorous beginning to the panel. The team also has a giant appreciation of the fans, as Steve said, “You’re all one big mother holding me,” and Freddie enjoyed role-playing as Kanan on Twitter and challenges fans to continue to do so.

Star Wars Rebels Panel and Press ConferenceThey also ran through the paces a bit, discussing everyone’s fandom of Star Wars before and after working on Rebels, with Taylor and Tiya being the two to change the most, seeing as they weren’t really fans at all beforehand. Also covered were Simon and Filoni’s challenges in getting the production on the show started, seeing as what most shows have months to do, they only had one. Those two mentioned how Freddie was the easiest pick they had for the show, which he seems thankful for as he enjoys the radio show recording style Rebels uses over some of the video game solo recordings he’s been involved with; he also elaborated on that sentiment in the press conference, saying he’s happy with VO over screen acting because he can focus on being a father and still enjoy what he does.

Captain Rex in Star Wars RebelsThe cast sat down on the stage floor when they rolled the trailer as they hadn’t seen it yet either. The room exploded over the trailer, especially on Captain Rex’s return, while going utterly silent (I know I was holding my breath) when Vader is forcing Ezra to cut himself with his own lightsaber, giving me and everyone else in the room the chills. After a standing ovation, it was shown again (much like for the opening ceremonies and TFA trailer) and just as enjoyable and exciting as the first time. Having seen the hour long premiere (spoiler and non-spoiler review here!) I can say roughly 60-70% of what you see in the trailer is in the premiere; anything to do with Rex and the new Inquisitors are scenes from later in the season.

Star Wars Rebels Press ConferenceBaker and Ashley joined the panel after the trailer and Ashley mentioned how she cried when she first saw Baker coming in to record lines and they both enjoyed the reunion and chance to play their characters again. Baker calls Rex an, “…old lion…” and the official press release reveals the other clones are Commander Wolfe (Filoni’s favorite) and Gregor (the Commando from the D-Squad arc in S5 of The Clone Wars). One of the first few questions in the panel involved a young boy asking Filoni how Rex survived. Since he had been teased earlier as a Sith Lord by Freddie for all his question deflecting and the kid who asked was all smiles and therefore all cute, Filoni gave in and at least answered: you can boil it down to the Order 66 arc from TCW S6, where Fives tells Rex and Anakin everything…and that Kanan won’t like seeing Rex. In the press conference, Freddie said their strife comes from how Depa was killed, to which I assume he’s just angry over the whole Order 66 and distrusts/dislikes all clones, but it could be Rex was involved in the situation somehow. Also, to everyone who thought all stormtroopers had to be clone troopers, even in TFA, seeing how old these clones are should tell you why it’d be impossible.

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 PosterA Q&A session at the panel commenced: Of course the question of Ahsoka and Vader’s fates being intertwined came up and Filoni deflected again by saying it’s a story they still have to tell us (again, check my soon to be published review to find out more about those two); Because Filoni gave away Rex details to a young kid, an even younger and way cuter kid asked who voiced Chopper in the movie and got a truthful answer: Filoni, having had enough of the cast’s teasing, walked over to the girl and whispered the answer to her and announced, “I told her the truth,” to much laughter from the crowd; Other shenanigans included Freddie signing a lady’s book (who left her kids at home to come) and a team built miniature replicas of Chopper to give to Filoni. The panel concluded shortly after the Q&A session and the press conference had a few other highlights:

  • Someone asked about the Inquisitors seen in the trailer, to which both Kinberg and Filoni refused to talk about (there was some speculation amongst the crowd beforehand suggesting one of them is to be Barris Offee).
  • Filoni and Kinberg feel like they are adding new books into the Bible.
  • Freddie hilariously asked a member of the press, “Is Chopper New or Old Testament?” after they asked if it was intentional all of the character’s names could be found in the Bible.
  • Though he understands the Aladdin comparisons, Filoni was looking more at Ralph Macchio (Karate Kid) for Ezra.
  • Taylor says he has now built every LEGO set for their characters.
  • Someone asked who Sarah Michelle Geller was playing and Freddie joked it was the Wookiees in the S1 and now S2 again.
  • Blum went in character and mentioned how unhappy he was at the prospect of learning more about Chopper’s background.
  • Kinberg had a great story about his first meeting with George Lucas (before the Disney sale) and how if he hadn’t been all loopy from sleeping pills to survive flying, he probably would’ve freaked.
  • Tiya mentions how Filoni and Kinberg showed George the Rebels pilot but told them in an off handed manner.
  • When asked what they feel like Star Wars teaches kids or anyone, Vanessa said she enjoys how it shows hope can be such a vital and important thing to have, no matter your circumstances, Freddie said patience, and Blum said that you can be who you want to be.
  • Some teases for S2 included: how Ezra and Kanan will come at odds as their relationship is more like father and son, but father’s teaching son to play sports and the kid doesn’t get it; Kanan has to learn to use the Force selflessly to become a true Jedi, something which stood out to me when rewatching the S1 finale, “Fire Across the Galaxy,” and how he tells the Inquistor there’s something more powerful than fear and it’s the Force. Kind of sounds like he’s using it, instead of letting it use him.

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Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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