Star Wars fans were delighted and thrilled when Star Wars Rebels' first season finale revealed that "Fulcrum" — the mysterious behind-the-scenes character who assigned many of the Rebels' missions — was none other than Ahsoka Tano.
Last seen in the fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka was Anakin Skywalker's padawan apprentice, a character that slowly transformed from an aggravating, headstrong youth into a strong, smart, capable (and popular) Jedi hero. But after being framed and subsequently exonerated, Ahsoka surprised Anakin by leaving the Jedi Order.
Fans hoped we might one day find out what became of everyone's favorite dual-saber-wielding Jedi, so excitement for Star Wars Rebels rose higher when she showed up. We asked the actress who voices her, Ashley Eckstein, about her return to Star Wars and what we can expect from an all-grown-up Ahsoka in season 2.
Tech Times: Ahsoka's story ended in such a compelling place at the end of Clone Wars. Many fans had assumed she would be killed off to explain her absence in Episode III, but having her walk away from the Jedi was so much more interesting. What was your reaction when you found out that was how her Clone Wars journey was going to end?
Eckstein: I always felt that Ahsoka did not have to die and I hoped that [showrunner] Dave Filoni and his amazing writing staff would find a way to keep her alive — I just wasn't sure how they were going to do it! When Dave told me the finale arc, it made so much sense and I was overjoyed!
As a fan, I would've been crushed if Ahsoka would've died. It was obviously such a sad and emotional moment when the finale aired but it was actually such a hopeful ending because it answered the question of how she could survive Order 66. It brought so much meaning to the phrase "Ahsoka Lives!"
It seems like it was Dave Filoni's plan all along, since Star Wars Rebels was conceived, to bring Ahsoka back. When did you find out she was returning?
I found out that Ahsoka was returning to Star War Rebels about a year before the season 1 finale aired. After Clone Wars ended, I believed in my heart that we would continue Ahsoka's story someday, but I had no idea that it would be in Rebels. Needless to say, I was so excited to get Dave's call that she was coming back and it was so hard to keep the secret for a year!
Can you say how much of Ahsoka we'll be seeing in season 2? How big of a role does she have going forward?
Ahsoka will be a recurring character in season 2. She's there to help the Rebels but she's also on her own journey. She has her own questions about the growing rebellion and she weaves in and out of the story as she seeks answers to those questions. She'll always remain a bit mysterious.
As an actress, how do you approach an Ahsoka that's 15 years older? She obviously sounds different now, as we all do after becoming adults. But more than just her vocal pitch, how have you changed your portrayal of her for Rebels?
Ahsoka and I are almost the same age right now. At first, I was having a hard time with her vocal pitch and Dave told me to think about my own voice right now. My voice is different from when I was 16, but not that different. I do pitch it down a little bit for Rebels but I actually just talk like myself right now since we are so close in age.
As for my portrayal, I know it may sound weird, and even though Ahsoka is in a galaxy far, far away, Ahsoka and I have had many of the same life experiences from an emotional standpoint. I can easily relate to Ahsoka and pull from similar emotions to bring them to my performance.
Lucasfilm's new featurette about Ahsoka's return (above) hints that maybe she doesn't yet know that Anakin is Vader. Can you comment on that?
All I can say is that you're going to have many more questions after the movie on June 20th!
Special thanks to Ashley Eckstein for taking the time to answer our questions.
Star Wars Rebels returns with a special one-hour season premiere event on Saturday night, June 20, on Disney XD. Check your local listings for time.