Ahsoka Tano Herself, Ashley Eckstein, Breaks Down Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi

Ahsoka Tano Herself, Ashley Eckstein, Breaks Down Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi

About a decade ago, everyone was sure Ahsoka Tano was dead. Dead both on screen, with her show The Clone Wars all but cancelled, and off-screen, because how could another Force user still be alive in the world of Star Wars?

Things have certainly changed. Not only did Ahsoka come back for more Clone Wars episodes, but she was also back on another animated show, Star Wars Rebels, and has been at the centre of novels, comics, and even the world of live-action, with appearances on The Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett setting up her very own show. But even that’s just the beginning.

Last week, Ahsoka went back to her roots and appeared in three episodes of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, an animated anthology from the character’s co-creator Dave Filoni, aiming to tell new, crucial stories, about Star Wars Jedis. The show meant actress Ashley Eckstein would once again get to voice the character, and Gizmodo spoke with her about returning and each of the landmark episodes.

“When Dave Filoni calls and says that there’s a new project, there’s no pitching, it’s just how quickly we can get out the word ‘Yes,’” Eckstein told Gizmodo last week. She recorded her episodes during the pandemic over Zoom, and each one posed unique challenges and questions. Below, we break it all down.

Image: Lucasfilm

Tales of the Jedi Episode 1: “Life and Death”

“Life and Death” tells the story of Ahsoka’s birth and first experience with the Force. However, since the character is still a baby, Eckstein didn’t have anything to do with the episode. As a fan of the character though she was riveted by the fact she finally got to see where Ahsoka came from.

“It was really, really interesting to see Ahsoka’s backstory as a baby and to see everyone in her town,” Eckstein said. “I think that the problem with Tales of the Jedi is that it opened up more questions than we have answers to. Now, I have so, so many questions.”

When Eckstein was making The Clone Wars, she would ask Filoni about Ahsoka’s backstory, but he’d never really give her any information. “I asked about it a lot,” she said. “I always wanted to know her backstory. And to be honest, I don’t fully remember what Dave said. But what I do remember is him always being coy about it. What I always gathered from his answers was that it was a story that he always wanted to tell. So, it’s very cool that he finally got the chance to tell it.”

Image: Lucasfilm

Tales of the Jedi Episode 5: “Practice Makes Perfect”

The next time Ahsoka pops up in Tales of the Jedi, the story is set early on in her journey, around the timeline of the Clone Wars movie and season one of the show. For Eckstein, that meant going back to a voice she hadn’t had to do for years.

“I really enjoyed going back to a 14-year-old Ahsoka,” she said. “It’s fun to reminisce and go back to those days, and it actually was quite easy to change my voice to go back to 14-year-old Ahsoka. It’s like stepping back into an old pair of boots that you’ve had for years that you broke in. They’re comfortable. They just mould to your foot. And that’s how it felt.”

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t preparation though. “I did go back and watch The Clone Wars movie and several of the first episodes in season one,” she said. “So I did listen to my voice back then and it’s shocking how different it is. Ahsoka has grown up so much and she’s gone through such an evolution.”

That evolution is partially because her master, Anakin, puts her through such intense training. The episode not only features the voices of Eckstein’s Clone Wars family (Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker), all of whom reunited on Zoom, but may hold the keys to multiple mysteries surrounding the character. For example, Ahsoka Tano has two lightsabers. Is it because of this?

“I think so,” Eckstein said. “I actually got to watch the episodes with my nephew last night who’s like a Star Wars expert. And we came to the same conclusion. That she got the second lightsaber for her training and because of these exercises.”

Eckstein also found it interesting how this specific exercise of dodging blasts from Clone Troopers would become so, so crucial to the character’s survival. “[Anakin] was preparing her to save her life,” she said. “And I think what was so heartbreaking to me, having seen it for the first time, was little did any of them know he was literally preparing her to save her life against the clones. The very people she was learning from are the very people that she had to escape from later on, which made it so much more heartbreaking. But also that answers our question of how could she do that? How could she escape from the clones at the end of season five like she did and then how could she escape from the clones, obviously, with Order 66?”

Image: Lucasfilm

Tales of the Jedi Episode 6: “Resolve”

The final episode of Tales of the Jedi, set soon before the events of Star Wars Rebels, brought up complex emotions for Eckstein. “Ahsoka at Padmé’s funeral, for me, I was sobbing during that scene as I was recording it,” she said. “It was very real where she says, ‘She was my friend.’ I could hear it because I knew what was happening but I was full-out crying during that scene. So. yeah, the emotions were very, very real in that episode.”

After the funeral, we meet Ahsoka hiding as a farmer. Some fans noticed that the story has some very close parallels to the E.K. Johnson Ahsoka novel, but Eckstein says that was never discussed. “No, we didn’t have any conversations about the novel… but it felt like an extension of the novel,” she said. “I didn’t even ask Dave if this was before the novel or [after], I just assumed this was kind of at the beginning of that chapter. So I definitely sense the parallels.”

One parallel that’s missing is Kaedan Larte, a woman who begins to fall for Ahsoka in the book. Tales has a similar character but has removed the love story and some (including Gizmodo) have criticised the show for ostensibly replacing a queer character. When the topic was brought up, Eckstein could only express a deep adoration for the character.

“I will say I absolutely love the character of Kaedan and Miara, her sister,” she said. “E.K. Johnson and I actually collaborated on another book, From a Certain Point of View, where we together wrote a chapter and included those characters. But, this is purely my opinion because I did not have any discussions about it, I do hope that we eventually get to see Kaedan and Miara because I think E.K. Johnston wrote two incredible female characters that I hope we’ll see in the future.

Finally, as was the case almost 10 years ago, Eckstein admits the final episode of Tales From the Jedi made her sad because, for now, she’s not sure if this is the last time she’ll voice the character or not. “Every time I step into the studio and record Ahsoka I always have so much gratitude and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity,” she said. “I never look at like, ‘OK, well, what’s ahead?’ And, ‘Why don’t we have more?’ I don’t ever look at it that way. I’m just grateful for what I get to do. But there’s always a sadness whenever a project comes to an end. And so that episode, in particular, was, the last one, it was sad.”

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is now on Disney+.


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