'Star Wars Rebels' Bits: Darth Vader, The A-Team, And Lightsaber Development

The animated series Star Wars Rebels premieres on the Disney Channel tonight (at 9 ET/PT) and will then bounce to Mondays on Disney XD, beginning October 13.  The show is set in the period between episodes three and four — so between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars — and features some original trilogy vibe as it tracks the rise of the Rebellion.

It sounds like we'll see (or at least hear) the return of Darth Vader in the show — something that has been hinted at and rumored for months. And it seems as if James Earl Jones will be back to voice him. Below, check out that info, along with all these Rebels bits.

  • The official Star Wars site has an interview with producer Simon Kinberg.
  • Dave Filoni and Joel Aron talk about lightsabers in Rebels.
  • See a Rebels clip featuring Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla and some creatures.
  • Another clip features a lightsaber duel involving the Inquisitor.
  • Watch Rebels red carpet interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Exec producer Greg Weisman will leave Rebels after the first season.
  • StarWars.com talks to Simon Kinberg, one of the producers of Star Wars Rebels. The interview begins with the original offer that brought Kinberg into the Star Wars fold, goes to his first meeting with George Lucas, and then goes into detail about many aspects of the show. One amusing quote about the early development links Rebels to a somewhat unexpected old TV show:

    One of the first things they said was, they had the paradigm of the A-Team, where they wanted it to be a group. We [agreed], from the beginning, that we wanted it to be the origin story of the Rebel Alliance. So, they really loved the structure of the ensemble crew doing missions week to week, and being a little bit on the outskirts of the law the way that the A-Team was. I think the thing I brought to it, initially, was focusing those characters as a family. The A-Team is a different model, because they're all roughly the same age. They're all adults, and their dynamic is as friends and peers. I thought it would be great if this crew could be built around the different archetypes of family members. So you have the father, the mother, the older brother, the middle sister, the little brother who's the sort of runt of the litter, and the pet. I mean, Chopper is the family dog or cat.

    USA Today has this video in which Dave Filoni and Joel Aron discuss the process of developing the animated lightsabers for Rebels, which might not be quite as easy as you'd assume.

    We know that much of Rebels was inspired by the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie, , and CG supervisor Joel Aron also looked at the original Star Wars, in particular the film stock and lenses used on the movie, to create animated sabers that look more like what we see in that film than in the prequels. Aron and his team even went to sound designer Ben Burtt, who has one of the original props used in the 1977 film.

    Filoni says,

    What it is is a rod that's wrapped with a reflective tape, and the rod actually spins. If you look at the old movies, in the original VFX tests you'll see there are actually wires that came out the bottom of the lightsabers. Those wires powered the motor and made the rod spin.

    Get more info via this video:

    Here's a new Rebels clip, from The Wrap, in which Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla run across some dangerous creatures. This clip premiered at WonderCon, but now you can all see it.

    USA Today has another clip — which comes with a spoiler warning — in which Jedi Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.) engages in a lightsaber duel with the Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs). Filoni calls the Inqusitor an "evil version of Sherlock Holmes," and Isaacs explains,

    Everybody he encounters is so far beneath his skill level that it doesn't tax him... I wanted him to enjoy the chase and enjoy the hunt. He's not in a panic, nothing's about to blow up. He can take on any number of adversaries and still have time to read the newspaper and get his nails done.

    In the same USA Today piece, Filoni talks about wanting to have James Earl Jones back to provide the voice of Darth Vader. He says,

    We have a nice history of honoring the great legacy characters,... It would be a shame never to have Darth Vader in the show, I'll say that much.

    That's a small quote, but it says a lot. Why even mention it if things weren't moving forward?

    Meanwhile, here's a video featuring some discussion of the development of the Empire for Rebels.

    The same USAToday piece also reinforces the idea that Rebels will connect to other films in the Star Wars series, saying "As part of a new generation of Star Wars projects, Rebels will tie in with future stories including next year's Episode VII movie."

    In keeping with the run of videos, check out a set of red carpet interviews from the premiere of Rebels. Filoni and Kinberg show up, as do the show's voice actors. There may not be a lot of new information here, but if you want to see the personalities of some of the creators this is a good way to do it. [via Rebel Force Radio]

    Finally, fans noticed that the announcement for Rebels season two omitted the name of season one exec producer Greg Weisman, who was an EP on the show along with Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg. Now Newsarama has confirmed that Weisman has left the show. We don't have further details pertaining to his departure.