Continuing our conversation with actress Ashley Eckstein, Open the Fridge inquired about her work on the Star Wars television series, The Clone Wars, currently airing on Cartoon Network. Her character, Ahsoka Tano has come a long way over the course of the series, and Ashley shared her thoughts on Ahsoka’s past, present, and future.
Open the Fridge: With the fourth season of The Clone Wars now underway, are you pleased with where Ahsoka, as a character, has gone in the last three years?
Ashley Eckstein: Yeah, I’m very happy with where she’s gone! We have the most amazing writing staff. People ask me all the time about story ideas that I have, and I say, “Anything that I would come up with would pale in comparison to what our writing staff comes up with.” I feel that she’s matured a lot. I feel like she’s gone in a direction that I think everyone was hoping she would go in, in terms of growing up, becoming a little less snippy, a little less of a sidekick, and more like she’s one of the gang. She’s really just one of the gang now. You don’t really look at her as, “Oh, there’s Ahsoka making another snippy comment to Anakin.” I think she’s really earned their respect.
OTF: I know that there were plenty of fans who were a little skeptical at first that this was going to be a character for the younger audience, but we’re definitely impressed with where she’s gone and how she’s matured, just as you said. What do you think makes her so appealing at this point?
AE: Oh wow. You know, I think what makes Ahsoka appealing is the fact that she’s kind of relatable. Even though she’s this alien girl in a galaxy far, far away, her emotions and the things she’s going through are very relatable, especially for more kids that are watching the show. There are a lot of girls who have really taken to her. They see her struggle of wanting to be the best Padawan she can be, the struggle of doing what’s right, the struggle of letting people down, and they can relate to her emotions. Also, what [the writers] have tried to do, and I think this is why some people have taken to her, they’ve tried to show the Clone Wars through her eyes, and I think it’s almost like she’s the character for the audience to experience the Clone Wars with because you see it through her eyes. Again, that’s nothing I’ve done, that’s just what they’ve tried to do with the writing. But again, she’s just a little less annoying, I’ll say it. I’ll admit, in the beginning, she came on really strong and I even got annoyed at times. I was like, “Aw, geez, that sounded really bad.”
OTF: You haven’t had to say “Skyguy” in a while.
AE: No. You know, I really liked the name Skyguy. The others, “Artooey,” that could go, but she doesn’t say Skyguy anymore. As Dave Filoni, the series director, says, “She’s grown out of the nickname for him.” She’s past that.
OTF: As you said, she’s grown and matured over the three seasons. As a voice actor, how did you consciously make that transition yourself, going from one season to another when she started to grow up?
AE: That’s definitely something that we made a conscious effort to change. At the beginning of every season, Dave Filoni and I would sit down and he would tell me the direction he wanted Ahsoka to go for that season, and especially if he wanted her to grow up or become a bit darker. And she has, she’s gotten darker as it’s gone on, so I definitely have to lower my voice. My voice is naturally pitched a bit higher, so I have to speak in my lower register. I’m also always laughing. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky person, and in the studio, in the middle of war, you’re not happy-go-lucky. So Dave jokes with me. He says I have to ball up my cuteness because I’m constantly laughing. So he calls that “cuteness.” If you could se my face right now, I’m being sarcastic because I think it’s funny! [laughs] So he tells me to ball it up and throw it out of the studio. The other day, he told me I couldn’t wear pink in the studio because he said it made me “too happy”, so I needed to dress darker. So, it is a conscious effort to lower my voice and just have a darker attitude.
OTF: You probably can’t give specifics, but knowing the fate of the Jedi, if you think Ahsoka is going to go out toward the end of the series, is there a way you think she should?
AE: [laughs] Well, here’s the thing I say about that. Again, anything that I would come up with would really pale in comparison to what [the writers] are going to come up with. Trust me, I’ve heard the theories, and some of them are really good. Really good. I don’t think her fate has been decided yet, to my knowledge, so it’s still up in the air, but the theories I’ve heard are even better than some of the fans’ theories. I feel like I’ve heard every theory known to man about what could happen to her. I’ll be honest and say that the thought of anything bad happening to her, of course, makes me really sad. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her, but I want the best thing to happen for the overall Star Wars story. So, whatever that is, I trust Dave Filoni, obviously. George Lucas knows what he’s doing, but with Dave at the helm of everything, he will do the right thing for the overall story.
OTF: We talked about the future of “Her Universe” and we talked about Ahsoka. Is there anything on the horizon for you, personally?
AE: I actually just finished a part in an upcoming animated film with the Weinstein Company and Rainmaker Entertainment, called Escape from Planet Earth. I play another alien in that, but she’s an alien princess. That should be coming out in the spring of 2012. You won’t hear my name in it because Sarah Jessica Parker is doing it, James Gandolfini, Craig Robinson, Brendan Fraser, and Jessica Alba. They have a really great cast and I’m just humbled to have a part in it. So look for that in the spring of 2012. I’m also working on a new show for Disney. It’s not sci-fi, it’s more classic Disney, but it is a musical, so I got to sing, which was exciting.
OTF: Well, we wish you success with both projects. To close out, we have one more question for you. Besides Ashoka, who is your favorite sci-fi heroine?
AE: You know, I should have this answer on speed dial, but my favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2. Here’s the thing, and I don’t want to sound cliché by saying this, but Princess Leia really started it all, I think. She was the princess that was completely out of the box. She wasn’t your cookie-cutter, stereotypical princess, and for that, I’m grateful. She definitely paved the way for other female characters. We have Carrie Fisher’s picture up in our booth because I met her a Dragon*Con, and she came by and got some merchandise, and I thanked her. I said, “Honestly, I know you were cast in this role, but what you represented really opened the door for so many other things.”
OTF: Ashley, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to the new products from Her Universe as well as future episode of The Clone Wars.
Once again, thank you, Ashley! We look forward to seeing you again soon!