'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Star Ashley Eckstein On Returning To Ahsoka And Recording Her 'The Rise Of Skywalker' Cameo [Interview]

Ashley Eckstein was a newcomer to Star Wars when Star Wars: The Clone Wars was announced. She was introduced as Anakin Skywalker's padawan, a character no one every thought existed, and she was a young snippy girl to boot. Some of the fans weren't happy with that initial announcement – what would Star Wars fans be if they didn't complain about things they didn't yet grasp? Yet Ahsoka slowly became a fan-favorite character who even made a vocal appearance in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Eckstein has been there the whole time, voicing the character from beginning to end.We had a chance to talk to her about the new episodes of The Clone Wars, how she approached this unique time in Ahsoka's life, and what it was like bringing the character to the Skywalker saga.This is the first time we've seen an Ahsoka in this period, that really narrow window between her leaving the Order and Order 66. She's sort of finding her place in the world still, and I'm wondering if you can kind of talk about approaching Ahsoka from that direction, which is such a narrow sliver of her journey?Voicing Ahsoka in The Clone Wars era is near and dear to my heart. I spent the most time with Ahsoka during The Clone Wars, so I had a great time voicing Ahsoka in Rebels. It took some learning because she was much older, and she was much wiser, and much more serious, more like Obi-Wan. It took a minute to kind of master Ahsoka's voice in Rebels, and I had to kind of unlearn everything that I had learned for Clone Wars. And then once I kind of got Ahsoka's voice down for Rebels, then they said, "Surprise! We're going back to finish Clone Wars." And I kinda had to unlearn everything that I had learned for Rebels and go back to Clone Wars Ahsoka. And where we kind of settled is Ahsoka both vocally and mentally was somewhere kind of in between. Because she was no longer the snippy Padawan that we knew from Clone Wars, but she's not yet this very wise kind of... one of the leaders of the Rebellion, in Rebels. She's somewhere in between, and very much lost. I mean, we see her kind of come into her own and find her way in these episodes of The Clone Wars, which is so important to her storyline.I often wondered where did she go? What was she doing? What was her headspace? I had all of those same questions. You know, it's funny... when I recorded these episodes, it was even coming at a change in my life where I was kind of starting a new chapter. And so I can very much relate to Ahsoka, because you have all these questions of like, "Okay, well, this is all that I knew, and what am I doing next?" And I could definitely relate to her in many ways.Some of these episodes had been written or worked on before the show was canceled. Was there work that you'd done recording before then, or did they have you re-record everything as you worked on these new episodes?Oh, I definitely re-recorded everything. We treated these episodes from a recording standpoint, and so they were brand new. The arc with Trace and Rafa was similar to something that I had previously worked on, but there were many changes to that, and obviously so many years in between. So we treated every single episode as a brand new episode.What was the experience like recording this finale as compared to recording the moments where Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order? Like I remember you've talked about how emotional that was. How did this compare to that experience?It definitely compared. There were a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. When I recorded the Season 5 finale... it's widely known now, but that was never meant to be the series finale. We always knew that we were making more episodes, and while Ahsoka had disappeared for a while, I knew she was coming back. And so it was never a goodbye. So while the recording the scenes was emotional because they were very emotional scenes, there wasn't that thought in the back of your mind of like, "This is over, like, this is the end." And so when I left those episodes back in Season 5, it was just like.... Okay, well that episode's done. I will see you in a couple of episodes. Like, it was just kind of that kind of attitude. So fast forward to now, you know, every episode that we recorded was closer to the end. And we knew that it was the end, and we were so grateful because it was such a gift that Clone Wars got to come back and that we got to make the final season. So it was every episode was met with such gratitude. But we definitely cherished the moment, every single moment. We didn't take them for granted. We hugged and laughed and cried and signed each other's scripts. And you could definitely say that we were given a proper goodbye.I can imagine that it's a much more intense feeling than like, me on the other side. I watched the first episode of the Siege of Mandalore arc, and I was crying through the whole thing anyway, but part of it was just the idea that I don't want this to end. Right? Like, I really wanna see this but I don't, because the more I watch it, the more it means this is gonna be over.Yeah, you just made me emotional thinking about it, because... I rewatched that episode this morning to prepare for these interviews, and I did the same thing. I cried throughout the whole episode. And I had the same thoughts, that while the episodes are so amazing... change is necessary, but it's not easy. And knowing that this is it, this is the final season. I have the same mixed emotions. So it's definitely sad. Sorry to cry, oh my gosh.No, no, don't be sorry... I think that's one of my favorite things about Clone Wars and Star Wars generally, is that it taps people into a lot of those feelings with the storytelling, and it's really important storytelling.It definitely is. I think we all felt that Ahsoka didn't get the ending that she deserved in The Clone Wars. Obviously there's been so many incredible stories that we've told with her since then, but there was.... You know, we didn't get that ending that we all wanted, the fans wanted, we wanted. It's definitely important that we get these episodes.As far as Ahsoka's storytelling across the board, what was it like recording lines for The Rise of Skywalker then, and sort of getting to add another piece to her journey?Oh goodness, it was absolutely incredible to record lines for The Rise of Skywalker. Just to be included in that moment was surreal. I remember when I was first told that it was a possibility, I was actually at Star Wars Celebration last year, so it was pretty much a year ago now. And I found out that it was a possibility. I actually was asked if I had time to record any lines during Celebration and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna have to find a closet somewhere in the convention center in Chicago and record these lines?" And it turns out that we had a little more time. And a couple weeks later, I went to the studio with Matthew Wood and Dave Filoni, and we recorded some tense lines, but I was told that it was only a possibility. It was not a guarantee that the this scene would actually be included in the film. And I was told that I wouldn't know for sure until October of 2019, and this is back in April or May of 2019. So it's one of those things... I've actually been cut in the past from several TV series or movies. Once you experience something like that, you don't get your hopes up very easily because your heart is just broken when it doesn't come to fruition. When I was told that it was a big maybe, I really didn't allow myself to get my hopes up at all, and just kind of moved on. And October came, and it wasn't till about mid-October that I found out that I was gonna be asked to come in and record some lines for the film. And I couldn't believe it, I was just in shock. And then... much less to walk in to Bad Robot and get to work with J.J. Abrams and Matthew Wood. It was just truly a dream come true. And moreso for Ahsoka, to be included in that scene, and in the Skywalker saga films, which I just love so much. It's just truly an honor.Comparing that to recording in Clone Wars as you were working on the Siege of Mandalore and getting to work.... I mean, from our perspective it looks like you were in the room with Dee and Matt and James and everybody all over again. Is that how that experience was, or did you have to record your lines separately, or was this a big reunion with everyone?It definitely was a big reunion. It was very important to Dave Filoni from day one. Back when we started recording the series in 2006, it was very important to him to get the cast together for the initial record. And he wanted to create that bond, he wanted to help us build that chemistry. And it's pretty much impossible to do that if you're not in a room together.And so we all have a very, very tight bond. I mean, just as tight as the characters are, we share that in real life. And so, Season 7, or, the final season was the same. It was important for Dave to get us in the same room and in the same studio together. There was one time where I think Sam couldn't be there, but they brought in a giant TV screen and Sam was on Skype, so it was as close to being in the room together as possible. But it was awesome. Like I said, we all hugged, we cried, we signed each other's scripts, but when it came down to recording the episodes, obviously we got down to business. And then in between takes we laughed and enjoyed the time together as much as we possibly could.So, a question that sort of ties to Rebels: you had that moment, that you had to perform in Rebels where Ahsoka realizes that Anakin is Vader. And going back to this first episode in Siege of Mandalore, it feels like Ahsoka has her saying goodbye moment with Anakin the same way Obi-Wan does with Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. How did you connect those two moments as you were performing that or is that something that you considered or thought about? Because it feels like in this episode—and I haven't seen the other three, so I'm not sure if you see Anakin again—but it seems as though, just based on the timeline in Revenge of the Sith, that was the final goodbye between master and apprentice. What sort of the gravitas went into that moment for you, as an actress, but also as a Star Wars fan?That's a great question, and it's something we actually talked about a lot, because all of us actors, we approached these scenes knowing that this was goodbye, knowing what was about to go down. And sometimes we brought too much emotion to it, or we brought too much gravitas to it, and we had to pull back or we performed it several different ways, because Dave had a great point. He said, "Look, while you guys know it's the end, your characters don't." When Ahsoka says to Anakin, "Good luck," I think that's coming more from a place of... they've been separated all this time. I mean, she walked away. She's not sure if she's just gonna see him after the next battle like they used to. I, by no means, think that in her mind that was her saying goodbye. So we had to be mindful of that. We had to really put ourselves in the headspace of our characters, not in the head space of us personally, as Star Wars fans.Along the same lines, what was that experience like talking with Obi-Wan in that situation too, because it seems as though she almost takes out a lot of her anger about the Jedi Order on Obi-Wan, which felt... like they were always close, and it seemed a lot different. Can you talk about that and their relationship?Again, that's actually a very important scene that we talked a lot about. We recorded it several different ways, between kind of what you saw, maybe with a little more emotion, a little less emotion. I think it's... in my view, and in my opinion and where I was coming from with my performance is, it's just Ahsoka trying to wrap her head around what she's doing there. You know, what is her role? She's not sure she wants to go back to the life that she walked away from. We see her walking with Anakin, and the clones saluting her and calling her Commander and she's just like, you shouldn't be calling me that anymore.So I think it's more just Ahsoka's frustration too, of trying to figure out, who is she? And what role is she playing? She knows she wants to help, because Ahsoka, in my opinion, always wants to do the right thing and she always wants to help. But she's just now trying to figure out, what is her space in all of this? And I think her attitude is met with a lot of frustration, not necessarily at Obi-Wan, but at the situation.Yeah. Thank you so much for talking to me and answering my questions about Clone Wars. It's always a great pleasure and hopefully we'll all be able to see each other sooner rather than later, after all of this has blown over.Definitely, and Bryan thank you so much for your continued support of the show and Ahsoka and everything. It's really meant a lot to have your support over the years. 


Star Wars: The Clone Wars is currently airing its final season on Disney+. New episodes air on Fridays, but the series finale airs on Monday, May 4th.