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Dave Filoni Discusses Conceiving the Timeline and Characters of Star Wars: Rebels
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 04.27.2014

IGN recently interviewed Star Wars: Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni on the upcoming animated show. Below are some highlights.

The show premieres later this fall on the Disney channel before moving to its regular time on Disney XD.

Filoni on appearing with the Rebels crew onstage at WonderCon: "It's good. It's funny, because to me it almost feels like all the same thing. Sometimes I have to remember that fans in some ways are really in the dark. They don't know about the Disney purchase, they don't know about the change of Star Wars, the shutdown of Clone Wars. I have to remember that because, for me, things are different in a lot of ways, but things are very much the same in a lot of ways. It's funny, I told Ashley Eckstein this -- because I still talk to her all the time -- I said, "It's funny, when I go to record Rebels, I just feel like I'm doing episodes of Clone Wars that you're not in." [Laughs] You know? Because that used to happen on Clone Wars all the time. So to me that's great, because it's still all in the Star Wars family, in my mind at least."

Filoni on how they conceived the era of five years before a A New Hope with the show: "Yeah, that all came out of the discussions initially between Simon Kinberg and I and the story team up at Lucasfilm. You're trying to find real estate now and not affect things. I think we're very aware of the Luke Skywalker timeline and how we don't want to cross over with that in any way. There are things that are the big pillars that we don't to interrupt. I've always believed the best thing to do is kind of find your own spot and develop that and make new, exciting characters that people can believe in. I've had a lot of experience with that. Even Ahsoka's kind of now being put up on the Star Wars pantheon by many fans, and Captain Rex. I think arguably they're the most exciting parts of Clone Wars other than, you know, Anakin got great development, but I think you remember that period for the iconic characters in it. So we really wanted to create new characters for Star Wars and not use any that we had known before. It's kind of a bold move given the big changes that the public sees, but we felt it was a necessary thing to say, "Hey, these are Star Wars characters. They're in the world you know." Five years seemed like a good place in time. There are all kinds of clues and hints within the movies, frankly, that people, if they're really savvy and pay attention, would know are the same things that Simon and I kind of hit, that we go, "Well, that's an interesting thing they're saying. So we can't do that. This affects us." It's really forged how the rebels themselves are active in this time period -- in ways that I'm not sure the fans would realize."

Filoni on the central characters and if they are a single group or part of a larger one: "Well, I would say that that is the big question, and I like that it's a big question. I believe it's the opening crawl of A New Hope that says, "The rebels have had their first major victory against the Galactic Empire." That gives you some insight into how organized they are, which is not very. I think one notion we attack to make this series was, how long does it take them, the Rebel Alliance, to really become something formidable? Are they ever formidable? The Empire never actually seems that worried about them. The only ones I know that are kind of worried about them a little bit are the guys running the star fleets. They seem to have the most frontline trouble with the rebels. But as we saw on Clone Wars, there are rebels, when you get to Saw Gerrera and his sister Steela. I talked about this back on that show, that there are pockets of rebels all over. But are they an alliance? Are they a rebel alliance yet? That remains to be seen. The fleet you see in Return of the Jedi is kind of like an amazing occurrence. Vader even points out, "What about the reports of the Rebel Fleet amassing outside Sullust?" Well, that's pretty rare - and they know about it! So we've really tried to look at this whole time period of the Rebellion against the Empire and tried to see, how does that develop, and how do our characters fit into it? For us, it's really starting with five characters that are against the Empire. They know it's wrong, and they all have their own reason for wanting to fight against the Empire. That's the compelling thing. They all have different motivations that have put them on this path to being Robin Hoods, as it were, which is kind of more what our group is than being part of a giant Mon Calamari fleet -- and it makes sense. If there was such a fleet, it would give the Empire a really easy target to go destroy, and I don't think the Empire has that."

"Also, this is maybe a -- I think the diehard fan knows this -- but when the Clone Wars ends and the Empire takes over, that is a really positive thing. The Senate's cheering that. People on Coruscant think, "Finally, the war is over." So there is a period of Imperial rule that, to the core worlds and the inner systems, is -- I wouldn't say "great," but it is really good. It's not what the Clone Wars was. They're not being attacked. It's really the Outer Rim and all the territories that kind of fell under the dominion of the Separatist rule, which are now under Imperial rule, that's problematic. Great evidence of this is in Phantom Menace. There is no Republic presence on Tatooine, but there sure is an Imperial one [by A New Hope], and that's how you can see how Palpatine expanded the scope of the Empire under the guise of the Clone Wars... So you see that growing thing, that Palpatine has to have more and more control over the galaxy. So all of that has to be thought out beforehand. It's funny, because that doesn't really come up a lot, but we know it's there, and it's driving how the characters have reacted, ultimately."


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