Ashley Eckstein's AHSOKA Exit Interview Part 1

On Monday came news that Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming to an end, with the ambiguous announcement that already-produced content (including some still being worked on) will show up at some time and some place, some how. We spoke to Lucasfilm for clarification, and unfortunately, they can’t tell us much more about whether these will be released as episodes, arcs, direct-to-dvd/digital, or any details at all. All Lucasfilm could confirm is that there are at least two arcs worth of story content to be released. A Lucasfilm rep told us “we love the stories we have left, and we will make sure they get out to our amazing fans.”

 

Of course, the writing was on the wall a bit that the story had to be winding down. After all, there is an ending that has to be reached: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith has to happen. Anakin has to spiral down the path of the Dark Side, accept his role as Sith Apprentice, and help his master and these clone soldiers he and his Jedi friends have fought alongside all these years execute the Purge of the light side from the galaxy. Indeed, that leaves two big question marks: What about Rex, the Clone Captain who does not appear in Episode III, and what about Anakin’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano?

Well, one of those received an answer in the season finale of the fifth (and last) season to air on Cartoon Network (SPOILERS FOLLOW). Ahsoka Tano walked away from the Jedi Order after their betrayal of her, literally walking off into the sunset, and leaving her world full of possibilities.

Newsarama said goodbye to Ahsoka Tano, but someone else needed to, as well, the voice that gave her a heart and soul, Ashley Eckstein. After working with Lucasfilm as Ahsoka Tano for seven years, she said finding the emotions needed for the big goodbye was all-too easy. In this three-part exit interview, we talk to Eckstein about portraying Ahsoka, the Her Universe brand, and why it’s so hard to say goodbye to a cartoon character that became a real part of so many lives.

Read on for part one, where we specifically discuss the finale, and what went into making a heartfelt, but hopeful, end to Ahsoka Tano’s journey.

Newsarama: So, Ashley, let's start off with the fact that you made a bunch of grown men cry in front of their girlfriends, and fiancées, and wives, and children… are you proud of yourself? 

 

Ashley Eckstein: (laughs) You know what? I was so impressed with how many grown men openly admitted that they cried at the finale. Because, it was so sad and there's nothing wrong with admitting that you cried. People didn't seem to censor themselves. They all told me, you know, "I cried" or "I got teary eyed." I can't tell you how many tweets or posts or emails I got from people saying that they got emotional. So I have to say I'm impressed!

Nrama: Well that's good at least! Tell me about that first moment when Dave Filoni came to you with this script - did he do anything special, a sit down in his office or anything like that?

Eckstein: Dave did call me ahead of time and tell me what was going to happen. In the past, I usually didn't get briefings on the episodes before hand. Dave does an excellent job, when we go into the studio, giving us a recap of what's about to happen. What's going on in the episode we're about to record, or the arc that's about to start.

For this arc, obviously, with it being so emotional, Dave let me know before I got in the studio so that Matt [Lanter, voice of Anakin Skywalker] and I could get in the right headspace for it. So I knew what was coming, I knew what was happening, and I thought the story was amazing. It's really exciting because we don't know what is eventually going to happen to her. Now that she left the Jedi Order, we hope that maybe she was able to escape Order 66 and somehow survive. Only time will tell with that.

 

He gave me a heads-up though, of what was going to happen. Then a week before we recorded the finale episode, Dave sent me an email that said "I just want to give you a heads-up. I want you to be prepared for this final episode. It's very emotional, and I want you to be in the right head space. I'm going to kick everyone else out of the studio, and I just want you and Matt alone in the studio."

When he sent me that email, it hit me. Wait a minute. This is the final scene isn't it? Ahsoka walks away! It's really the final scene between Anakin and Ahsoka. At that moment, I got really emotional, because, just like Ahsoka was ending a chapter in her life, I felt like I was ending a chapter. Seven years being on a show is a long time. For actors, you don't get that luxury very often, with the rate that shows are cancelled so quickly. For us to be on a show so long, Matt - I would consider him like a brother to me. He's become such a close friend. So to hear that I needed to be emotionally prepared for our final scene - it wasn't very hard! I realize that's probably the last scene I'll ever record with him. It hit me pretty hard, so I was ready. 

 

Eckstein: Of course I would always love the opportunity to play Ahsoka. I've become so attached to her. Having the opportunity to really create a character from scratch in the Star Wars universe, there are so few of those that you can do that with. The core storyline has been set for the most part, up until now. That's what's so exciting about Episode VII. There are very few new characters. So to have that opportunity to create a new character in this universe, it's like I hit the lottery! So I would of course welcome the chance to play her again, but I have no idea if I'll get it.

Nrama: Well, my dream to have a live-action movie with you playing an adult Ahsoka years later having survived the purge is alive!

Eckstein: (laughs) Well let's just say Ahsoka is alive, and we're happy about that. Whether I'm a part of that equation - who knows, I can't even think about that! That would be incredible, but I'm not a decision maker on that!

It's just been an honor to be attached to her in any way shape or form, and to be the voice of Ahsoka. I think, what's exciting, I think fans took such a black and white approach to her fate: she has to die. There's Order 66 and no other way around it! But no, she doesn't, she can walk away from the Jedi Order and she's not around for Order 66. So now we're in this grey area where she's alive and there's all sorts of possibility.

Come back tomorrow for part two, where Ashley Eckstein talks about recording her last scene as Ahsoka, whether the character made the right choice, and how she thinks the end of Season 5 will affect Anakin Skywalker.

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