'Star Wars: The Bad Batch' Producers On New Characters, Familiar Planets, And Setting A Show During The Rise Of The Empire [Interview]

With the end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars last year, many fans thought we'd reached the end of storytelling for the clone characters and everyone else we met in that series. With the announcement of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, that idea got turned on its head. The show, premiering tomorrow, takes place as a direct sequel to the The Clone Wars and follows a group of elite clones as they watch the galaxy in its transition from Republic to its first Galactic Empire.

Although Star Wars animation maestro Dave Filoni set the wheels for the show in motion, Brad Rau (producer) and Jennifer Corbett (producer, head writer), were tapped to lead the day-to-day operations of the show.

/Film was able to talk with Rau and Corbett about the show and their involvement in it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and content. The first question comes from a group press conference with Corbett and Rau; the rest are from a one-on-one interview.

You've both worked with Dave Filoni before and he's overseeing the show, can you talk a little bit about what it was like to collaborate with him on this series?

Corbett: I got to work with Dave on Star Wars Resistance, which was such a great experience.  And getting the chance to develop the series with him is kind of like a master class in writing Star Wars?. And with this being a sequel series to The Clone Wars, it was crucial that he be involved in this process very much.  Because these are characters that he's created and it's the world that he knows, but every day, every script, is a learning experience. And it's so exciting to see this show grow and develop with this team. [Dave Filoni] has been fantastic to learn from.

Rau: Dave's awesome. I've known Dave for a long time.  When he was starting The Clone Wars, I first met him up at-up at Skywalker Ranch and I happened to just be starting my own animation studio at that time, so I was unable to join the force of The Clone Wars. It was one of my regrets that I rectified later on in Rebels, to join as an episodic director. And then on Resistance. He's an awesome guy, a good friend.  I couldn't think of a better mentor, especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day is fantastic and amazing. Just collaborating with him and being able to work with you, Jen, so closely on this show has been a dream come true.

Over the years of talking to folks who've worked on Rebels or The Clone Wars, there are a lot of influences that you bring to the table outside of just Star Wars. Dave Filoni told me the best way to talk to George Lucas about Star Wars was talking about other movies. I talked to Kevin Kiner and he brought up The Dirty Dozen and things like that, and I'm wondering in the writing and the development of the show, what sort of influences did you two bring as creators to The Bad Batch?

Rau: We're fans of a lot of different things and we tend to bring those influences into The Bad Batch. A lot of what we talk about with Dave Filoni are the old classic movies like The Dirty Dozen. We look at a lot of westerns and the high action/adventure movies of the '80s, like the Indiana Jones movies. We talk about these things all the time. Sometimes an idea will kick off as an inspiration off of something like that, but then let it become its own thing. That's true to this show to these characters, which is challenging, but is also the healthy natural way to let that go.

Corbett: Other than the various films that we're constantly talking about during conferences and sessions, I think my military background helps bring flavor to these characters because it's just a dynamic I understand, it's a relationship that I know, and I love writing the banter between this squad 'cause it feels real and it feels based in actual military units. I'm just thrilled I was able to get the chance to do that.

With this moment in the Star Wars timeline, it's something that we haven't seen a lot of, at least on screen, though there have been some comics and stuff. What makes this era exciting for the both of you and how do you navigate some of the other stories going on in parallel with that?

Rau: It's an exciting time: the rise of the Empire. Literally, the dark times that Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about. The story group is awesome, and they interact with us, and all the different teams. There are times when something will come up that we all talk about to make sure that we're not crossing the streams, to quote another franchise, too much. It is a wide-open time even though there has been a little bit of other stuff, there's so much we can do and with these essentially new characters, it gives us latitude to not have to worry about all of that as much as perhaps some of the other stuff.

Corbett: The time period is really what drew me into this story, because any time we can take these Republic soldiers who witnessed a massive shift in the political and military environment. And it really felt like the clones' story through the bad batch hasn't been finished yet, and we're looking forward to continuing that and hopefully getting the chance to bring it to an epic conclusion as well.

I got to watch the premiere and as soon as it opens on Kaller, I was like, "Oh, you have my attention now," and I'm much more all in. I'm wondering if you can talk about the decision to start on the planet Kaller.

Corbett: Early on in the development we knew we wanted to start with Order 66 and see it from the Batch's perspective. A lot of conversations were had in terms of which Jedi would be there, who do they interact with, and the further we got in the development of the pilot and [the character of] Omega started to become a thing, we saw this opportunity to do a parallel and book end the episodes where you witness Hunter's interaction with Caleb [Dume] and how he's unable to help him as much as he wants to, and how he carries that with him throughout the episode, so then when he gets the chance to help Omega, he's able to see that through to the end. And of course, when Dave Filoni was like, "Caleb can be an option," it just seemed like an incredible opportunity.

Rau: Yeah, I think we all leaned in just like you did, Bryan, when he said that.

I'm curious about Omega. Omega is a really interesting character. She's a clone, she's, as far as we know, the only female clone and she's got something else going on with her... Tell me more about her.

Rau: Yeah, Omega is great. She is, I think, the key to seeing this team of elite soldiers deal with a situation they're not used to, that they're not equipped for. The whole galaxy is changing around them, is forcing them to do things differently than they have, but to be parental figures, for lack of a better term. And literally as parental figures, I think it gives this whole series the right kind of shift so that we can see them be fish out of water. We do have a lot of action, we see them using their finely honed skills, certainly, but also to deal with this more emotional situation is really, really interesting.

Corbett: They have such different backgrounds too, because even though they're all clones, obviously the Bad Batch were created and trained at a young age to be soldiers, whereas she has led a very sheltered life on Kamino and has a completely different skill set than they do. So, just getting the chance to highlight that as they interact and how they move forward is exciting.


The first episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch arrives on Disney+ on May 4, 2021.