If you are a Star Wars fan, then you know that the new animated series, Star Wars Rebels premieres TONIGHT (October 13, 2014) at 9pm on Disney XD. For those of you that may just be finding this out (or maybe your NDKs are all ready for this but you are totally lost with who is who), Disney has provided a family press kit that I have compiled to form the Ultimate Fan Guide! Here you will find a brief description of the show, along with a helpful character guide. Once you have read this material, you will be the coolest neurotic Disney parent/person this side of the galaxy!
I also have a few great printables that are in a separate post HERE.
Have fun with this new series…..and may the Force be with you…..
The Star Wars Rebels Ultimate Fan Guide
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope captivated an entire generation in 1977, launching a saga that has been embraced by generations as a timeless epic. Now, the Star Wars saga continues with Star Wars Rebels, a new half-hour animated action series on Disney XD that introduces a thrilling cast of characters that are new to the Star Wars universe.
The adventures focus on Ezra, a street-smart teenage boy who has joined a small band of rebels that engage in daring missions of sabotage and resistance against the Empire. Members of this rag-tag group of rebels include Kanan, a cowboy Jedi; Hera, an ace Twi’lek pilot; Sabine, a Mandalorian street artist who happens to be an explosives expert; Zeb, an agile fighter and the “muscle” of the group; and Chopper, the grumpy but good-hearted droid. Together this motley but clever crew of the starship Ghost face threatening villains, embark on thrilling adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion.
Meet the Rebels…
Not every guardian of peace and justice was lost to the tragedy of Order 66. KANAN JARRUS is a survivor of the Emperor’s Jedi purge and the perceived leader of the Ghost crew. He keeps his Jedi past and identity a carefully guarded secret to avoid being hunted down by the Galactic Empire.
Kanan, voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr., is a less traditional Force-wielder than fans are used to seeing. He carries a blaster, is a little sarcastic, and keeps his past a secret. “I like to call Kanan ‘the cowboy Jedi,’” says executive producer Dave Filoni. As shown in this video, his Jedi robes are long gone, replaced with armor and a holster, though a samurai-like ponytail hints at his Jedi Knight origins.
In Star Wars Rebels, set between Episode III and IV, Kanan has been underground for years, evading the Empire. If the Imperials become aware of his existence “he’s going to get killed,” says art director Kilian Plunkett. He still has his lightsaber, but no longer uses it for fear of revealing his true identity — and has ultimately forsaken the ways of the Jedi Order.
Star Wars Rebels will show Kanan’s journey as he rediscovers himself, just as a rebellion begins to form against the Empire. According to Filoni, “He’s a gunslinger that needs to put the gun away and pick up the sword again, and fight for noble causes and selfless causes.” But what will happen when he chooses to reignite his Jedi weapon, fighting once again for a greater purpose?
Growing up on his own in the age of the Empire, Ezra has had to rely on his wit and cunning to get by. As voice actor Taylor Gray explains, “He’s very street-smart, he’s a pickpocket, he’s a little thief. But he’s doing it all because he needs to survive.” Executive producer Dave Filoni adds that Ezra is not a bad kid. Although he may enjoy stealing from the Empire, his behavior has been influenced by the world around him – a world that is under Imperial control.
But his hard life has also made his world smaller. “He doesn’t really trust anyone,” says Rayne Roberts, creative executive of Star Wars Rebels. “That’s kind of his motto in life. He has that hard edge at times.” When audiences first meet Ezra, he is not yet a Rebel and is not yet interested in restoring freedom to the galaxy – but that will soon change when Ezra is introduced to his new surrogate family: the crew of the Ghost.
Greg Weisman, executive producer, says, “His eyes get opened to the fact that there are people who care, who are trying to fight the good fight. And he becomes one of them.” Still, there is more to Ezra than even he knows.
Ezra is Force-sensitive, Filoni reveals, though he is unaware that he is tapping into this mystical energy field. Ezra knows he has some strange abilities, but they’re “instinctive and reactionary.” It is only through his relationship with Kanan, a Jedi Survivor and crew member of the Ghost, that Ezra will learn the true nature of his power. Together, they will forge new paths and destinies – and a rebellion will rise.
Right? Not quite. CHOPPER is one lazy, cranky (but ultimately goodhearted) astromech droid. “If Artoo is the family dog,” said Dave Filoni, executive producer of the show, “Chopper is the cat.” Chopper is an essential crew member of the Ghost, tasked with keeping the starship running and operable for its band of heroes. In reality, thanks to his many “unique” upgrades and customizations, no other alien, human, or droid could handle the job.
The design of Chopper, a.k.a. C1-10P, takes cues from early Ralph McQuarrie concept art for R2-D2, especially the expressive arms that fold out of his head. As Star Wars Rebels
takes place four years prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Chopper’s retro look creates an aesthetic continuity with droids of the original trilogy.
Every team needs a tough guy, and ZEB ORRELIOS fills that role as the clever muscle of the Ghost crew. Zeb is a well-trained honor guard and is highly educated, according to executive producer Dave Filoni, which juxtaposes his brutish, alien appearance. He’s voiced by Steve Blum, who says, “He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder, hates Chopper and is starting to build a relationship with Ezra, begrudgingly.”
His favorite pastime is beating up Stormtroopers or “bucket heads” as he calls them. He’s an agile fighter who uses his hands, feet and acrobatics. But there is more to Zeb than pounding Imperials. “It’s just going to be exciting to develop him and his bizarre new species,” says Filoni, “and to explain to the audience where he came from.”
Zeb is from a never-before-seen alien species in the Star Wars universe, but his look is heavily influenced by Ralph McQuarrie’s early concept art of what Chewbacca may have looked like.
SABINE WREN is an expert saboteur and weapons specialist as a key member of the Ghost crew. She hates the way the Empire has cracked down on personal expression, so she fights back with her own explosive graffiti art.
Dave Filoni, executive producer of the animated series, discloses that Sabine is a Mandalorian. She has a great understanding of weapons and combat like few others, and has turned against the Empire. “She is spunky, she’s feisty, she’s got a little bit of attitude,” says actress Tiya Sircar, who is voicing the character. Additionally, Sabine is an artist, which is reflected in her hair, personalized armor, and graffiti calling cards. After the Ghost crew hits the Empire, Sabine makes sure the Empire knows who did it. Concept artist Amy Beth Christenson says that the Star Wars Rebels animation team has created a library of graffiti tags for Sabine, and is constantly adding to it.
In the end, Sabine is a strong, no-nonsense heroine. As Sircar says, “I think she’s kind of an inspiration.”
HERA SYNDULLA is the heart of the Ghost crew from Star Wars Rebels. The Twi’lek is an ace pilot, able fighter, and a true believer in the Rebel cause. As the pilot of the starship Ghost, she often gets the team to their missions and helps them escape in the nick of time.
Hera is voiced by Vanessa Marshall, and is an especially gifted pilot. “I think she really makes flying the Ghost look easy,” says Joel Aron, CG supervisor. And while she’s strong-willed, Hera also keeps the group together, and can be warm and nurturing. “She knows how to talk to them to get the best out of themselves and to be part of that team,” Aron says. “That to me is the commander of a ship.”
Hera wears “utilitarian flight gear,” orange in color, with her Twi’lek head-tails hanging down her back. She’s not particularly glamorous, and is just focused on getting the job done. Like every member of the Ghost team, she has her reasons for rebelling against the Empire. Uncovering those reasons will be part of the Star Wars Rebels story, says executive producer Dave Filoni.
“Every time we get a script,” says Marshall, “I am breathless with anticipation. I cannot wait to read what’s next because I want to see where we’re going, too.”
Meet the Villains…
In the upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series, the Empire rules with an iron fist, spreading fear from world to world. Meanwhile, the few remaining Jedi are hunted across the galaxy — and THE INQUISITOR is the hunter. Specially trained in the Dark Side to find anyone demonstrating Force abilities, his most potent weapon is his keen analytical mind. But he also carries a unique double-ended Lightsaber that he can spin and throw in combat.
The Inquisitor recalls classic Star Wars villains but is also distinct in many ways. According to Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, the Inquisitor is not a Sith, though he does wield a red lightsaber and taps into the dark side. “His intensity is based on the purpose of the assignment,” Hidalgo says. The design of the Inquisitor evolved during early phases of production, but one specific element truly finalized both the character’s threatening look and personality.
“Once we put the [Pau’an] head on, it all kind of fell into place,” says executive producer Dave Filoni. Indeed, the Inquisitor’s face is intimidating and frightening, featuring carved lines, red markings, and jagged teeth. “Suddenly there was this black-suited, armored, creepy, evil Inquisitor. It’s unmistakable.”
One crucial factor in bringing the Inquisitor to life, however, is his voice – and that task falls to a veteran of villainy.
Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) plays the Jedi hunter, joking, “I’ve played a few unpleasant characters. Possibly, you could call them villains — depends on your point view.” Isaacs notes that the Inquisitor’s job is simple — to track down and kill all Jedi or Force users with no mercy.
Chris Glenn, concept artist, notes that while the Inquisitor is not a Sith, he is more than a match for Force-wielders. “He’s familiar with a lot of the Jedi ways and training tactics, and he uses that knowledge against Kanan.” Kilian Plunkett, art director of Star Wars Rebels, says that while the Inquisitor visually evokes earlier villains like Darth Maul and Darth Vader, he isn’t just a carbon copy.
Ultimately, the Inquisitor is a major new threat for Star Wars Rebels’ small band of rebels – and that is by design. “When the Inquisitor shows up,” Hidalgo says, “it means something. It’s significant, and it’s a definite challenge to our heroes.”
AGENT KALLUS is one of the Empire’s leading enforcers and is a major threat for the Ghost crew’s small band of heroes. He is an Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) agent who works closely with the Inquisitor.
According to David Oyelowo, who plays Agent Kallus, he’s ruthless, unforgiving, and an example of the Empire’s tyranny. “His job,” says Oyelowo, “is to basically make sure everyone stays loyal. And anyone who gives a whiff of disloyalty has to be cut out. So, I guess you could safely say he’s a bad guy.”
Lucasfilm’s Carrie Beck, director of creative content strategy, thinks Oyelowo is more than convincing as Kallus. “David brings a voice that is very authoritative and very commanding and very cool,” she says, “without betraying any sense of insecurity or weakness.” Kallus wears classic gray Imperial military attire along with a threatening helmet for field missions, and has distinct angled facial hair.
According to art director Kilian Plunkett, “He’s pretty literally a rebel hunter. His whole task is to investigate any sort of instance of local insurgency and see if it’s the beginnings of what could become a rebellion.” Moreover, he’s ambitious, and sees any victory over rebels as something he can use to climb the ranks of the Empire. Kallus is not in the position to command a fleet of Star Destroyers, adds executive producer Dave Filoni. Kallus is on the ground, leading stormtroopers in face-to-face battles against anti-Imperial groups — and his combat skills are impressive, including the use of a modified version of Zeb’s honor guard staff.
“I don’t know that Kallus would think that what he’s doing is really evil,” Filoni says. “He’s just doing his job for the Empire, and he believes in the Empire…So, Kallus — definitely an interesting character and one to watch out for. Especially if you’re a rebel.”