Star Wars Celebration VI Report! The Vocal Stars of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Panel

by Jay Malone on August 25, 2012

in Star Wars

I’m fascinated by voices. I blame it on Jim Henson, George Carlin, and Frank Oz.


The Muppets fascinated me as a kid – but even when I was younger, I could pick out that Big Bird and Oscar had the same voice…just at different levels of intensity or attitude. The same can be said for Rowlf and Dr. Teeth – despite some differences in their character and presentation, I KNEW it was the same person providing the voice.

Carlin, in particular, was imperative in my love of voices, vernacular, and language as I grew into my formative years. His Classic Gold album has some amazing voice work, and his fascination with language and words really helped influence my love of the same as I grew more mature. I remember vividly my reaction the first time I heard the Seven Words You Can’t Say On TV…as well as his discussion that words are just words – it’s never the word that does the harm, but the intention behind it. To call something a ‘bad’ word is ridiculous – there were bad people, bad intentions…but never a bad word.

As for Frank Oz, well, he lent his voice to my favorite characters – Fozzie Bear, Grover, and of course, a tiny green Jedi Master named Yoda. Oz was always the enigma – he was a voice actor beyond compare, and he was such a disguise artist that I was never able to quite pick out the similarities between his characters. It’s interesting to look back on it now and realize just how much those three men in particular played into my love of voices, accents, vernacular, and the English language.

Today, I was privileged enough to be able to attend the ‘Vocal Stars of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ panel at Celebration VI. The panel itself was one I’d hoped to attend at Celebration V, as well as at the similar workshops held at Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but for one reason or another I’d never been able to make the panels or presentations. I wasn’t making that mistake this time.

The panel itself kicked off with an awesome recap of Season 4, and was hosted by James Arnold Taylor (a man for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration – stay tuned tomorrow for my report on his Talking With Myself performance!) For those who don’t know, James is the voice of both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Plo Koon on The Clone Wars, as well as the current voice of Johnny Test, Fred Flintstone, and numerous other characters, many of whom you’d probably no even realize was being portrayed by James.

The cast members that joined James on the panel were Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex, Klaus the Fish from Family Guy, and Perry/Agent P from Phineas and Ferb), Tom Kane (Yoda, Admiral Yularen, and Professor Utonium from The PowerPuff Girls), Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano). One of the things readily apparent with this cast is that they’re all incredibly close, it lends to the overall ‘family’ appeal of the show. Needless to say, there was plenty of good natured ribbing and jokes as the panel progressed.

Matt was the first cast member focused on, and it was revealed that he originally attended an open audition, and had no idea he was reading for the part of Anakin Skywalker. Through circumstance, he actually didn’t originally land the role – instead, he was recast several episodes into Season 1, and he had to go back perform ADR work to match up as close as possible to the original voice actor on the show. Matt also revealed that his vocal direction for the part of Anakin was to be a little more Han Solo, Anakin originally was more playful, lighter…although that’s slowly deteriorating. He also revealed that working on Star Wars has impacted his on-camera performances – in fact, when Matt was on a movie with Carrie Fisher, and he embarrassed himself by excitedly proclaiming to her “I’m your dad!”

Next was Ashley Eckstein. When she originally auditioned for the Clone Wars, she had read for Padme, and had no idea that Ahsoka even existed. However, as she began her audition, she was stopped almost immediately, and told she wasn’t right for Padme, but they had a role that would suit her vocal style perfectly. We also learned that Ahsoka, when originally envisioned, was supposed to have an Icelandic accent, in fact, production had requested via Ashley’s agent that she perform with that accent – however, Ashley could never master it. Ashely was later asked about her female geek couture website,, and what inspired it. Essentially, it boiled down to Ashley having been a Star Wars fan for years, and she was never able to find any quality clothes for girls – so through research, she discovered that around 50% of Star Wars fans are female, and as a result created her clothing line.

The third member of the cast to speak was Tom Kane, a man who has been working as Yoda for the last fifteen years – essentially, since Frank Oz retired. As such, he didn’t have to audition for the role of Yoda on The Clone Wars, but he did have to go through the regular audition process for both Admiral Yularen and the show’s narrator, a role he initially felt was out of place, since it would be replacing the very familiar Star Wars screen crawl to open the episodes. In addition to his work on the Clone Wars, Tom can also be heard as the faux English announcer on the commercials for Ted, as well as numerous other roles. James made mention that he regularly turns on his television and says “There’s Tom. That’s Tom. Tom again.”

Finally, the last to discuss their role on the show was Dee Bradley Baker, a prolific voice actor presently known more for his creature noises – think Perry’s chatter from Phineas and Ferb – than his work as a line actor. As such, he was originally brought in to perform alien sounds (which he did an incredibly impressive demonstration of – providing hilarious attempts at translation of the sounds from the performers using sign language to communicate to the crowd), and was shocked when he found out he’d also be reading for Rex, Cody, and the rest of the clones. Dee was incredibly infectious for his love of the medium, and he runs the website, offering introductory tips and advice for starting out in the profession.

As mentioned earlier, the cast genuinely seems like a family unit. Since Ashley and Matt were both on-camera actors before the Clone Wars began, and Dee, Tom, and James were not, they’ve all learned a significant amount about acting from each other, and as they’ve grown, so has the show. We also learned that the show is blocked out and shot with animatics before the actors even get to the point where they would record, with the finished product not showing up until nearly a year later.

At the end of the show, we were treated to a live read of a script James wrote, putting each of the characters portrayed by the actors at Celebration VI. Seeing each of them perform, in character, at the drop of a hat was both hilarious, fun, and incredibly inspiring. This was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at a convention, and I can’t wait to attend again in two years.


Jay Malone is contributing to UnderScoopFire live from Star Wars Celebration VI! For continuous updates like the one below, follow him on Twitter @JCorduroy.


ClarenceRHM August 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for the report! Please share more with us when you can, Jay.

Jay August 25, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Will do! Exhausted from three days of constant walking, so I’ll be writing up recaps tomorrow. Three more coming for the site!

Corey Chapman (@chapmanrunner) August 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Awesome stuff, Jay!

Dex (@Dex1138) August 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

Great report! I caught a similiar panel they did at CV. I shot a video of James Arnold Taylor doing his 60 voices in 60 seconds:

The man should be bronzed!

Previous post:

Next post: