This Friday’s next episode of “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” entitled “Weapons Factory,” not only marks the second chapter of the four-part “Point Rain” story arc, it also marks the return of the Jedi general Luminara Unduli (Olivia D’Abo).
That isn’t all though, it turns out that Luminara has her own Padawan, Barriss Offee. Like Luminara, we’re going to see a lot of Barriss this season. That suits young voice actor Meredith Salenger just fine.
“I started doing voice acting three years ago, with the Disney series ‘Super Robot Monkeys,’” says Salenger, who obviously is the voice of Barriss. “That was so much fun I told my agent that if there were any other cool rolls like that to let me know.
“So when ‘Star Wars’ first came out, my agents knew that I could do an English and Australian accent. That was because I did a movie in Australia when I was seventeen and stayed there for four months. So everyday all I did was imitate the local accents, as crazy as possible, for my Australian and English friends. Barriss has an English accent. So it was a good match, and Dave Filoni, the director, picked me.”
Salenger also has high praise for the series field general, supervising director Dave Filoni.
“Dave is amazing to work with,” she says. “As everybody knows, he’s really an incredible fan. Also, we don’t really see what we are doing when we’re recording. Yet Dave is amazing at spelling out the details so we can really believe it. He’s so animated he ends up like a book on tape. He’s phenomenal to work with.”
More important, Filoni is setting things up so Barriss will be teamed up with Ahsoka Tano A LOT. Again, Salenger enjoys this. It seems she and Ahsoka’s voice actress, Ashley Eckstein, are enjoying each other’s company famously. Even if Eckstein is a hardcore baseball fan while Salenger prefers the NBA.
“Ashley is the cutest little thing!” Salenger exclaims. “She’s literally like Alice from Alice In Wonderland. She’s a ball of energy, and so sweet and kind. I also think this is her first foray into voice acting. She’s so enthusiastic, nice and her voice is just amazing. Her laugh is absolutely amazing. Everyone in the room starts laughing when she does. I don’t think you’ve actually heard it yet, but Dave has recorded it and plans to use it one day. I know someday he’s going to put it in.”
As fans will soon find out, the team of Ahsoka and Barriss is a pairing of opposites. The blame for this can be squarely placed on their respective masters, Anakin and Luminara, respectively.
“It’s a good match, that’s for sure. They do complement each other,” says Salenger, a Malibu, California native.
“I think being they are both Padawans, they are both out to do good jobs. They both have someone to answer to. When the two are together Barriss feels she’s more on a team with a girl who she can work with. They will develop a friendship, especially when there’s no teacher around.”
Of course, there are this new Padawan’s own qualities to consider.
“Barriss is incredibly loyal, disciplined and wants to do a good job,” says Salenger. “She can fight incredibly well. She is skilled. Barriss IS skilled. She also has powers that are yet to be explored in the Clone Wars. She has healing powers. She is going to be a great Jedi. She follows orders because she’s very concerned about pleasing everyone and doing the right thing. Luminara is her master, and she pretty much follows everything she’s told to do. She’s also very hard working.
“She goes off with Ahsoka and without either of their masters. It’s sort of the first time she’s gone without her guidance. Now Ahsoka and her master, Anakin, work more off their instincts. He teaches Ahsoka, but also trusts her opinion. As you know, they have nicknames for each other. Anakin calls Ahsoka ‘Snips.’ Now Barriss’ relation with Luminara is more formal. It’s not quite as equal.
“Barriss is going to let her guard down a little with Ahsoka. She will be a little less disciplined. When she’s with Ahsoka, Barriss is going to learn to follow her instincts more. I think Ahsoka is going to end up being a very good thing for Barriss.”
In the meantime, Salenger is jumping for joy over her Star Wars debut. She’s been waiting for it for a number of months.
“I’m so excited! I’ve been talking about this for a while and my friends have all be asking me when they are going to see it. I personally can’t wait. I’ve seen previews for it and it looks amazing. I have watched ‘Clone Wars’ before that, so I know what it looks like. Now that my voice is finally being added, I’m just so excited.”
Just one other thing, Barriss isn’t the only roll Salenger will be doing.
“So far, I’ve done 4 or 5 episodes [as Barriss],” says Salenger. “I’m not sure how many I’ll do this season. They keep that to themselves. Usually what happens is they call and say Barriss is back and I say OK. I also play some other characters. I’m not allowed to say right now, but I do know they are very exciting, which is why they are being kept secret. I voice about three other characters, too.”
So we shouldn’t be surprised if we hear a lot of Ms. Salenger for the foreseeable future.