While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had plenty of twists and turns, fans of the Star Wars Rebels animated series got a delightful surprise during Rey’s climactic confrontation with the Emperor: the voice of Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus was among the empowering chorus of Jedi giving our heroine a pep talk. IGN spoke with the voice of Kanan himself, Freddie Prinze Jr, about how he came to be a part of this special scene that not only brought in Kanan but also Ahsoka Tano, Mace Windu, and more for a cross-generational Jedi reunion.
Prinze said that the opportunity came his way when he got an innocuous phone call from Rebels creator and Star Wars animation mastermind Dave Filoni, asking if he was down to record some lines for Kanan just a few weeks before the release of The Rise of Skywalker. Rebels had concluded its four-season run in 2018, and Kanan heroically sacrificed himself in the final season, so being asked to record new lines signaled to Prinze that he was going in for something special.
“I was like, yeah, whatever you guys need. I always like to do that. And they were like, ‘okay, but this one might be a little different,’” Prinze recalled. “And so right away I was like, ‘oh, it’s for the movie!’”
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Prinze clarified that he only went in to record voice lines and nothing beyond that. In the lead-up to the movie, rumors were swirling that actors were being brought in to film appearances as Force ghosts, but as we know now, that never came to fruition.
“[Director] JJ [Abrams] came in and kind of broke down the scene, and what was happening, and what was going on with Rey and what she was needing from the Jedi at that point, because the Force provides you with what you need – not the Jedi per se, it’s the Force kind of dictating that,” he said.
Prinze was only privy to his character’s role in the scene, and though he knew that other Jedi actors were being given the exact same set of lines to record, he didn’t know the identity of any other voices in the scene until he sat down to watch the movie himself.
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Seeing (or in this case, hearing) characters from the animated shows in the live-action movies is pretty special, because it acknowledges that those beloved characters are truly a part of the Star Wars universe, unlike how Marvel kept Daredevil and the rest of the Defenders out of the MCU movies as if they didn’t exist. Star Wars Rebels has been referenced a few times on the big screen, like when Chopper made a cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the rebels’ ship, the Ghost, was one of many that answered Lando’s call in The Rise of Skywalker. For Prinze, he views all Star Wars stories as different parts of the same entity, regardless of medium.
“Star Wars is Star Wars, whether it’s a video game, whether it’s a novel, whether it’s a movie or a cartoon. … It’s all the same to me. They’re all telling the same kind of story, and it’s the same brain trust behind them,” he said.
Prinze was enthusiastic about getting to work with Filoni again, and he was brimming with excitement for what else Filoni and his team at Lucasfilm have in store for Star Wars fans.
“I believe in a lot of the people they have there [at Lucasfilm], and the types of stories they want to tell, just because they’ve told me the stories they want to tell. And I think they’re great, and I can’t wait to see more of this stuff in Dave’s head get out there,” he teased, not offering any details on what he heard. “He’s told me some of the best– to where I felt like I was a kid and sitting on a pappy’s knee, and they were hearing an old story. That’s how good they are, and those haven’t even been told yet. So they have a ton of work ahead of them, and it’s all work that they’re inspired by … But I love the direction they’re going in, and I love Dave’s influence over the brand at this point.”
Joshua is Senior Features Editor at IGN. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.