If you look up the IMDB, there’s a photo of Ashley Eckstein standing next to an actress dressed up as her now best-known character, Ahsoka Tano.
“That was taken at the debut of the movie,” Eckstein recalls. “It was really neat. It’s just really cool to stand next to the character. It was also very surreal to see the character I helped create. I never thought I would be able to experience somethi ng like that.
“I think what struck me is literally within a week after the movie came out, I started getting fan mail from all over the world. When I worked on ‘That’s So Raven’ and the other stuff I had done, I would get my share of fan mail. It was nothing like [what she got for] ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars.’”
Yet this summer, Eckstein had an experience that left an even bigger impression on her.
“What was really neat was this summer I got to spend some time in Orlando hosting the Clone Wars Behind the Force show at Disney World,” she continues. “So I got to meet a ton of fans. A lot of them came dressed as Ahsoka. When I saw the fans, all I could think is now it’s real.
“When season one debuted, it was something we had been working on for three years, and we couldn’t really imagine what it would turn into. Now to see how much the fans appreciate what we have done is a real opportunity for me. It’s so exciting to be a part of it.”
Another thing Eckstein is obviously quite excited about is the coming second season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
“Season Two is honestly bigger, bolder and more action-packed in every aspect,” she crows. “It definitely raised the bar. In terms of the bad guys, they are everywhere. It’s definitely going to be a tough season for the Jedi. Everywhere they turn, there’s a bounty hunter or a Separatist, waiting around the corner.
“Honestly, what the fans are going to see in Season Two is they’ve also raised the bar as far as the animation. (series supervising director) Dave Filoni has shown me some of the episodes recently and it literally blew my mind. It doesn’t even seem like the same show. I’m so proud with what we’ve been able to accomplish. We’ve really upped our game.”
Part of upping the game includes a lot of character development for Eckstein’s role as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano. The debut episodes, which air on Cartoon Network Friday, October 2, will show the Jedi Master-in-training is still quite capable of some truly boneheaded mistakes. At the same time, life during galactic wartime is making her grow up fast.
“At the beginning, she makes some, let’s say, immature mistakes, some serious mental errors,” Eckstein admits. “She will become a lot smarter. She will be a lot more patient. She’s starting to use what she’s learned and actually guiding other people. I wouldn’t say too fast, but she is growing up.
“Still, in the beginning of this season, she’s still pretty young, she’s still relying on Anakin, especially in the first two episodes. She’s not quite ready to be on her own. She’s still in the wings. By the end of the season, you are going to see her in some situations where she’s completely on her own. Anakin is going to drop her off on a planet and she’s completely by herself. She will literally have to tackle a situation without him and save the day by herself.
“I think the fans will really enjoy watching Ahsoka grow up. She will definitely become one tough little cookie. You will really not want to mess with her by the end of the season. I ask the fans watching the series just to enjoy watching her grow. I mean we’ve seen her grow a lot in season one. The growth between the movie and the end of season one was huge. She will grow exponentially by the end of season two.”
One person who apparently has helped Eckstein mature as an actress is longtime VOA veteran Corey Burton. On the series Burton first established himself by taking over Christopher Lee’s job as Count Dooku, and now is vigilante #1, Cad Bane.
“Corey Burton is amazing!” Eckstein exclaims. “I feel truly blessed to be working with this cast on ‘Clone Wars.’ They are some true voice over veterans. I definitely am the rookie on the show. On the last episode we did, I got to have my microphone stand next to Corey Burton’s. There he was, playing multiple characters on that episode. What I saw was he carried a little MP3 player with an earphone. He was listening to all the voices he had in mind and he would just go in and out of them. It was truly fascinating.
“It’s also amazing to see him do Cad Bane. When he does, he just goes beyond creepy. We also have a lot of other bounty hunters coming. It definitely is the rise of the bounty hunters, but Bane is definitely one of my favorites.”
In the meantime, the diminutive actress is having no problem plugging the show.
“The fans have also been so wonderful,” she fervently plugs. “So kind! So supportive! I couldn’t be more thankful for such a fan base. I just feel very blessed. I also feel that everyone working on the show is ‘Star Wars’ fans. I don’t think Dave Filoni could be a bigger one. So we want to make this the best show it could possibly be. We want to give them what they want. Then we can continue to raise the bar.”
According to inside sources, a third season of the series is already well on its way, so it looks like Eckstein’s wish will more than likely happen.