Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
The third season premiere of Star Wars Rebels will air over the weekend. As you probably know, fans went crazy when it was revealed that Grand Admiral Thrawn had been resurrected from Legends and has rejoined the Star Wars universe canon as the season’s big villain. The morning after the episode was screened at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 I was lucky to get a chance to sit down with Star Wars Rebels creator Dave Filoni and talk about the upcoming season.
We talk about a wide variety of topics, including where we are now in the Star Wars timeline, how Ezra has made so much progress since we last saw him, when we will finally get some X-Wings in the rebellion, his thoughts on The Force Awakens, if it’s possible to actually kill off a good guy or turn them to the dark side on a kid show, if Darth Vader or more Inquisitors will appear in Season 3 of Rebels, the idea of Force neutral characters, how Saw Gerrera ended up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Wedge Antilles new canon backstory, if Rebels will end before A New Hope begins, the process of adapting Grand Admiral Thrawn back into canon, and much more. Some of these answers have been broken out into stories on the site already, but there is also a wealth of material never published before as well.
And don’t worry, the interview is season three spoiler free. Read our complete Dave Filoni Star Wars Rebels Season 3 interview, after the jump.
Dave Filoni Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Interview
PETER: Hey, Sir. Nice to meet you.
DAVE: How are you? Nice to finally meet you. All right.
PETER: I’ve been a fan of the show for I guess three years now and it’s good to finally meet you. I was wondering, you see Ezra in this and he has developed a lot of skills since the last time we saw him. He’s very accomplished it seems. How much time has gone by?
DAVE: Well we always keep the time very fluid in these stories. I don’t like to nail it down specifically like days per se. But I’m thinking it’s at least around half a year. You know, almost feels like a full year, the way we have time measured out in seasons. It seems like each season is probably a year of this kid’s life for the most part. So there’s a fluctuated amount of time going on, you know, you can get scientific, how the Star Wars Universe measured it. But it’s close to a year, a little less. And they’re still dealing with the fall out of what happened at the end of last season.
PETER: Oh for sure. The developments he’s made are incredible. Is that the power of the Sith Holocron? ‘Cause it seems like he made much greater progress than he did under Kanan’s teachings.
DAVE: Yeah. Well it’s the quick and easy path by definition. And I think that’s the allure of the Dark Side is that you’re gonna be given a lot of these abilities with much quicker returns. And so that’s deceptive. You think oh I’m getting more powerful, you don’t realize you’re kind of getting enslaved to that power and that idea of power and control. As opposed to like the discipline of learning a skill and taking time with it. Which is something that kids struggle with, you know. Like practice, practice makes perfect, you know. They don’t wanna follow that. So they want an easy answer. So Ezra’s got the quick and easy answers and the challenge for him is he’s had success applying those things to the betterment of the team. And even the team like Zeb is kind of like yeah, Ezra has saved us again. So you get this feeling that he’s using it for good, you know. But that doesn’t always work out in the end.
PETER: So it seems like we’re like two or three years away from A New Hope. When are we gonna get some X-Wings?
DAVE: Everybody wants X-Wings, you know. It’s a tricky thing in Star Wars because now we have so many things going on across so many platforms. That, you know, when you’re creating a show and you’re able to create, you know, stories in Star Wars, I try to see well how can we make this different? So one of the choices that we made early on was that we weren’t gonna have X-Wings at least early on in the show. We’ve done B-Wings. Now we’re doing Y-Wings. But I’ve tried to stay away from a lot of the original trilogy kind of New Hope backbone stuff, because that, I want that to be clearly this is not that story. We’re a different cell. That being said, if and when X-Wings do show up it’ll probably be awesome. Kiri Hart and I always talk about Empire of the Sun. We love the movie Empire of the Sun. And to me the X-Wing moment, this is probably a giveaway, will be like the Cadillac in the sky moment when the P-51’s come to the camp where the kid is. It has to have that kind of feeling behind it. That you’re so excited to see these things. Then they have value again. As opposed to just saying, oh look there’s an X-Wing. You know, I want them to appear in a moment of oh my gosh, I’ve been waiting for this. So…
PETER: I think the assumption has always been the show is gonna end before A New Hope. Will the show end before A New Hope or can it somehow continue past that like event?
DAVE: Honestly you can engineer anything. Right? If you wanted to. But I think that in a lot of ways it would feel like a complete thing if it ends before A New Hope. So then you’ve told this piece of the story and then that is the story continues. And in a lot of ways you could also argue, so how do we connect Rogue One then as far as like kids watching the story unfold and can they watch this and then it goes into that? So there’s been a lot of discussion about that with Rebels. One thing I am determined this time though is to finish. This’ll be a complete piece. A complete story that has the feeling of a big arc and a beginning, middle and end. And unlike Clone Wars which I got kind of abruptly cut from what I was doing, Kiri Hart and I are determined to make sure that this comes to a close. Simon Kinberg and I have talked from the very beginning when we first started working together, where do you want this voyage to go? One of the big things that’s always concerned me is that you see in trailer and you noted Ezra’s powerful. Well where is that kid in the time of A New Hope? In the time of Empire Strikes Back? He does things Skywalker never did on the screen. You know, he’s a capable warrior Jedi. Luke is more of a kind of a cerebral Jedi, you know? So we have to deal with that.
PETER: So you do have a plan for why all these people aren’t mentioned?
DAVE: Yeah, oh yeah. Oh yeah. We’ve had to. And it’s been important since the beginning to be working. Well it come off, will it work? You know, who knows?
PETER: I hate to put you in a position…
DAVE: It’s all right.
PETER: But at the premiere of the season 2 finale, you said some things that gave me the impression that you shared the views of George Lucas and James Cameron that A Force Awakens didn’t do enough to push the story forward. I was wondering, what are your thoughts about A Force Awakens?
DAVE: Oh I think it’s great. I mean, I think it’s a remarkable achievement too. You have to think of just everything the film had to serve as far as not just Star Wars, but a fan culture, a global culture, a shift in the story of Star Wars from being this one man’s vision and his company to kind of a global company and a broader vision. And I think that that, admittedly or not is gonna affect you as a storyteller. So I think J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan had a challenging task to say how do we get this all together again and show people in no uncertain terms, I think this is gonna be a pain, this is gonna be exciting, this is gonna be the Star Wars you remember. And I think in a lot of ways that’s why you see so many things that are similar to Classic Star Wars in it. But I will say that the things that you remember the most from that film I would argue are not the things that were the same, it’s the things that were different. It’s Rey. It’s Finn. It’s Poe. It’s BB8. BB8 is like the icon of it. And so it’s a tremendous thing to take on the task of being the one that has to set that all in motion. And now I think going forward when you see what Rian Johnson’s doing and as the story develops, you know, it goes further there. And I made this comparison for people, I was saying when you watch the first Force Awakens trailer, right, well what’s the big cheerable moment for everybody is when Han and Chewie come on and say, you know, Chewie, we’re home. Oh my gosh, my icon. And people watched the rest of it and they go this is cool and I recognize some things, but not really. But, you know, the first time Rey comes on the screen in the new trailer will be a moment where people lose their mind. Because now that’s their friend. That’s someone they know. And so you have to build these things over time. And remember that Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon that’s been spanning how many years now?
DAVE: So that’s really the task at hand forthwith. You know, yeah, it’s great to be a part of Lucasfilm now. Like before and now and now we’re producing so many stories. That’s the big difference as well.