Star Wars: Rebels writer-producer Simon Kinberg and executive-producer Dave Filoni both talked about the upcoming animated show, discussing their duties, the thrill of writing for Original Trilogy characters and how does it tie in to the wider Star Wars Universe...
SIMON KINBERG: I am the co-creator of Star Wars Rebels, the executive producer of the show, and I’ve written a bunch of episodes. So when it airs, it will be in a sort of “Movie-of-the-Week” format where two episodes air back-to-back, and I wrote those two episodes. And then I wrote the season finale that we’re just working on now… And then as the executive producer, I will read all the scripts. I will sometimes run a pen through them and rewrite stuff in the scripts that lots of other really talented writers have worked on. I will watch cuts of the show, I will give notes on whatever I think about performance or score or animation, but they have such an amazing team of people, many of whom are Clone Wars alums like Dave Filoni, who’s as much of a creative voice on the show as anybody. So they put a great team together. They really know what they’re doing. And I will come in, and look at stuff, and give input, and occasionally write episodes. So the first season I’m responsible for writing three episodes—the first two and the last one.
The reporter tried to make Kinberg confirm Billy Dee Williams' involvement with the series but instead we got a hint that not only one but several OT characters will appear in Rebels:
KINBERG: Writing dialogue for any of the legacy characters is as big a thrill as anything I’ve ever had in my life. I said this to [producer Kathleen Kennedy] that when I open up a Final Draft document, and I tab over to “Character” and it’s a character from the original films—to be nameless until people see them—but if it’s a character from the original films, just typing in those letters and then that being the recorded name in that name database for that script is as surreal, and perhaps more so, than anything I’ve experienced in my career.
Another interesting thing about this interview is that Kinberg said that the series will have 16 episodes. Later Collider edited out that line from the video. Obviously he was not supposed to say that.
Now to Dave Filoni's interview with Empire Online:
You obviously worked on The Clone Wars as well, so are there going to be tie-ins to that? Are you going to maybe answer questions that were left hanging?
I’ll just say that. I think people would be disappointed if there wasn’t some connection, but at the same time I want the Star Wars Rebels characters to shine in their own right, and I want them to capture a new generation of fans as each, you know, moment in Star Wars storytelling does. They need their own space as well.
In operational terms, is there a Star Wars central command? What you’re coming up with is official canon, so do you guys have to co-ordinate with the big screen side as well? I’m guessing that Simon Kinberg is sort of a conduit of that.
The answer would be yes. I am aware of things that are going on all over the Star Wars galaxy. The same story team that is collaborating with the creatives on the feature collaborates with me, so I have a direct link to everything going on, which is incredibly exciting and incredibly stressful because of all the secrets that we now carry inside our astromech units.
It’s important to us as a group of creatives that all the Star Wars storytelling we’re doing be a level of canon that works with each other. That’s an exciting thing.
Speaking of generations, are they Stormtroopers rather than Clone Troopers in this series?
Oh, they’re using Stormtroopers, yeah. I’ll give you the big nerdy breakdown.
In my opinion, having made The Clone Wars and now working with Stormtroopers, I would say that a Clone trooper could outgun a Stormtrooper rather easily. A Clone trooper was bred, born, raised to be a soldier. Lucky for them, the Jedi gave them a lot of personality, but they were very dedicated soldiers. Stormtroopers are drafted into service; you can join through academies. If you watch A New Hope they stand around and say, ‘Hey, you seen the new BT-16?’ They seem interested in their job but you question their dedication. They’re treated as expendable by the Empire, and they definitely can’t shoot anything.
When Obi Wan says, ‘Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise’, I think he’s making that up on the fact that he used to fight with clones, so he assumes that a Stormtrooper is really good. Much to his shock those guys can’t hit an R2 unit in a naked hallway, let alone be precise. So I like Stormtroopers, I find them very interesting. The Stormtroopers have better gear, better weapons in a lot of ways but it’s just a different war they are fighting than the Clone troopers’ was.
One thing that was also exciting for this show is that, despite being set at a time when we might not expect to see really any Jedi, we do see Kanan with a lightsaber.
Yes, you will see a lightsaber involved. But we’ve tried to pick our moments when we have an all-out lightsaber battle, to make it a real special thing for the show. It’s a character moment as much as anything. For example, think of it: Luke, he didn’t even fight with a lightsaber in A New Hope. Obi Wan did briefly against Vader, but we didn’t see a full-on, all-out lightsaber combat with Luke Skywalker until The Empire Strikes Back. And when he does confront Vader it’s a pretty big mistake because he learns just how out of his depth he is. We try to make all of these fights not just about combat or swords; it’s about a character driven moment that tells the audience something about where we’re going.
Will Darth Vader and Palpatine appear at all?
I can’t say specifically. All I can say is that this time period, between episodes III and IV, is a dominant time period for the Emperor – and Darth Vader, for that matter. They control the galaxy through fear and our Rebels are insignificant to them. But it is to their own undoing that they don’t recognize the spirit of individuals and what that spirit could add up to in the fight against the Empire.
We want to have an Emperor that’s behind the scenes and so lofty in his power that it would take a lot to bring that spider out and down into the web that he’s woven. Our Rebels are little flies and they hit the web string and it plucks it, so first you get a certain level of Imperial officer after you. Then if you cause a bigger vibration then you get a bigger level; maybe an Inquisitor shows up. You’ve got to really start to undo the web before you get to Vader and ultimately the Emperor, and, you know, good luck to our guys if they draw that kind of attention.
One criticism that Star Wars has had to face recently was the lack of women in there. You had some great female roles in The Clone Wars and there are already two lined up here; is that something you’re trying to combat?
In Star Wars, one of the most exciting things is the ability to add new and exciting characters. In my time working on Star Wars, whenever I talk to writers or new creators that want to be a part of it it’s a very strong instinct for people to want to say, ‘What about a girl? What about a woman?’ Back on Clone Wars when we decided for Anakin Skywalker to have a Padawan we knew it had to be a girl; there was no question about it and it didn’t even enter our mind to make it a boy. We felt very strongly that we didn’t want to create just another Luke Skywalker and so we created Ahsoka Tano.
Doing Rebels, we had another interesting dilemma in which we’d just created Ahsoka and we didn’t want to do another young girl character-hero so we created Ezra. But I still wanted to have a lot of exciting women characters represented on the show, so we created Sabine and Hera – and they are fulfilling different roles. Hera is the pilot so she’s playing the more traditional Han Solo role, if you will, and Vanessa Marshall, playing Hera, does an incredible job.
Then Tiya Sircar as Sabine, really came out of an idea that I was developing in Clone Wars which was this band of female Mandalorian warriors led by Bo-Katan called the Night Owls. I thought they were really an exciting group of characters. So when I was talking to Simon and Greg about characters we create I said, ‘Why don’t we do a Mandalorian girl?’, and they were all over that and though it was very exciting. So she’s a different shade of Boba Fett, if you will.