Yesterday we kicked off our three-part exit interview for Ahsoka Tano’s voice, Ashley Eckstein. Ahsoka left the Jedi Order in the season finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5, and apparently just in time, as the show will no longer be airing on Cartoon Network, and indeed may have seen its last TV appearance, though Lucasfilm promises us more animated Clone Wars stories are on the way in some shape or form.
In Part One of Eckstein’s interview, she talked about preparing for the end, what it was like to hear her run was over, and why she’s hopeful about the future. Today in part two, we talk about recording the final scenes, why Dave Filoni and his team should earn awards, and whether or not Ahsoka made the right choice (and how it affects Anakin).Newsarama: Okay, Ashley, let's talk a bit about recording those last two scenes. First there was the scene with the big decision and the Jedi Council, then the one-on-one scene with Anakin. Did you and Dave talk at all about Ahsoka's motivations, or was it something you were able to just call on from yourself at that point?
Ashley Eckstein: Dave definitely gave me some excellent direction. The thing about when we record this show is that they do the animation to our voices, so we don't get to see the animation. So we really rely on Dave, he's our eyes, really. Dave, honestly is the best director I've ever worked with in terms of being able to paint the picture for you as an actor. He's gotten to know each one of us so well, I think he also knows how to specifically direct each one of us, to get the best performance out of each actor.
So, he knew what to tell me, but then he definitely kind of put the ball in our court and said "this is what I'm looking for but go with what you're thinking." I have to say, I don't think we had too many takes of those final scenes. We were able to get it in less than ten takes.
In those last scenes, we wanted to keep her strong and not too weepy, so that was the challenge. We wanted it understated, didn't want her too angry or over the top. She'd made up her mind at that point. She knew in that final scene that she was hurting Anakin, almost destroying him, she knew that. But she knew for her at that moment it was the right decision, she had to walk away. So that was the challenge. We didn't want to make her just crying, until she turns to walk away, then you see that tear. We wanted to give her a sense of strength and composure until she turned her back.Nrama: What was it like when you watched that finished scene for the first time, seeing what the animators had pulled off there. It seems lucky that this happened later in the series when they'd become so masterful, the expressions were so incredible. What was it like for you watching this last episode?
Eckstein: I was completely blown away. I've had the opportunity now to watch the final four episodes twice on the big screen. It's just mind-blowing to see what they've achieved. They've really created a state-of-the-art show for Television, but these episodes in particular are really movie quality. I feel like Dave Filoni and his crew should get more awards and be recognized more for their work! They've really set the bar high for what animation can do on television.
I appreciate all the kind words about our performances, I really do. But without everything coming together, without the animation, the facial expressions, the lighting…Nrama: The score, too!
Eckstein: Oh my gosh, the score! Without the score, without Kevin Kiner going out on his own, on his own dime, creating that score for us . It wouldn't be the same episode. You know, my husband being a baseball player: that's a team sport. It takes 9 guys on the field to win a game. It's the same thing here. It takes the entire team, every single department, coming together at their best, giving their best to make an episode. To single out one thing from an episode doesn't do it justice. I'm just so thankful to have been part of a team where everyone just strived for excellence with this finale.
Nrama: So let me ask you this, Ashley. You know Ahsoka better than anyone in the world, so, did she make the right decision, not going back to the Jedi Order?Eckstein: Oh. Um… She made the right decision for her, and she made the right decision for the time. I spoke with Dave Filoni about this. There's not a right or wrong decision here. Dave told me, "only Sith deal in absolutes." So you can't have an absolute right or wrong decision. So Ahsoka, everything she went through, she was betrayed on so many levels. She has no trust in anyone anymore, so there's no way she can stay in the Jedi Order and do her job to the best of her ability.
Ahsoka's not the type of character that can do something half way. It's 100% or nothing, she can't do it any other way. I think by staying in the Jedi Order, she wouldn't have been able to give it 100%, so I think in that moment she had to walk away.
Nrama: And, do you think that with her choosing to leave, that will affect Anakin more or less than if she had died?Eckstein: Oh, that's a good question, nobody's asked me that!
I would say her walking away is affecting him more than if she and died. She knows he'll think this way, Dave and I have talked about this too. She knows that Anakin will feel like he failed her, with her walking away. That sense of feeling like he failed someone, that's gut-wrenching. Knowing that she's out there and had to walk away, he'll take that blame, and that hits him hard. I love how in the finale, we see that this is a huge factor in pushing him closer to Episode III. I thought that Matt Lanter's performance was just incredible. He's getting closer and closer to Episode III.
Nrama: Looking back on 7 years for you, 5 seasons of the show, did you ever feel like Ahsoka would come this far? This strength of character, it's only seen by a few other characters in the entire Star Wars mythos. People that have the ability to actually make a real decision for themselves - you can look at this as the motivation close to 30 years later for Anakin to finally turn against the Emperor and find redemption in Episode VI! Did you ever have an idea she'd come this far?Eckstein: I knew that we'd come to some kind of conclusion for her, but I never had any idea it would be this powerful. I have to say, I'm so proud - here she is this animated character - but I'm so proud of her! I look up to Ahsoka. I look up to the type of character she is, and I want to be more like her. She's an inspiration to me.
it's just like a child growing up, where all of a sudden you're away from your parents, and you have to make your first decision as an adult. And you wish you could just stay a child forever and be protected and stay in that little bubble. But you can't, and suddenly out of nowhere you realize, wow, it's time to grow up. I have decisions to make and no one can make them for me. You have to rely on everything you've learned, from your parents, and teachers, and mentors. You have to make those for yourself. So I think that's what happened with Ahsoka here. I wasn't expecting it. I wasn't expecting that moment to come so fast. But it came and she was ready for it, she was prepared for it - well not for what actually happened to her. She wasn't prepared for that at all, she was actually very naive about it, that's why it kept getting worse and worse for her. But when she was forced to make a decision, she saw the truth and faced the truth head-on. It wasn't easy, but there it was. She didn't take the easy path, but she took the right path in my mind.Come back tomorrow for the conclusion, where Ashley talks about new opportunities, Her Universe, and Star Wars: Episode VII!