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Vanessa Marshall Says Star Wars Rebels Will Be For Adults as Well as Kids
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 05.04.2014

Vanessa Marshall, who voices Hera in the upcoming Star Wars Rebels, recently spoke with IGN about the series, her own status as a Star Wars fan and more. Check out the highlights:

On auditioning for the project when it was under a secret, non-Star Wars title: "I knew Disney acquired it, but I didn't think I'd be so lucky. That's crazy. There was no way I was auditioning for a Star Wars thing. But I decided to utilize what I know, because she was described as a pilot who wanted to see the ‘tyranny' fall. I was like, ‘Er, the Empire?' The elements of Star Wars plugged into the different language, so I figured, ‘Well, I'll just use what I know, that's more specific than that,' and then when it turned out to be -- I lost it. And I said to my friends, ‘Do you think that's Star Wars?' Everyone said, "No! Wolf?' It was called ‘Wolf,' and I was like, ‘Wolf! Like Wolf Pack!' But they don't know Clone Wars. They don't know! [Then] my agent called, and she was like, ‘How would you like to be a series regular on Star Wars Rebels?' I went, "Ah, ah!" I fell to the floor, and I just started sobbing and going, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!' You know, over and over again. She was like, ‘Are you okay?' I just couldn't catch my breath. I just went nuts, yeah."

On her character Hera: "She is very wise, very nurturing. I'm sure you've heard that said about her. I think she cares very deeply about her crew, as well as the crusade. She's sort of like a mother figure, mentoring Sabine, mentoring Ezra... To the extent that he's got teenage angst; I think she reins that in a bit to focus him. You know, ‘I don't want to!', that type of energy. She teaches him to think about the bigger picture, as opposed to what he wants or fears in this moment. With Zeb, I think she utilizes his might. He's a great fighter. So everyone plays their part on the ship, but I think she's at the heart of it, and I think that's really cool. She calls the shots, because the Ghost is hers. She can definitely handle herself. She takes out TIE Fighters, no problem. Even on land, there are some scenes we've done where she beats the crap out of somebody. I'm like, ‘Oh my gosh, she's so cool!' Yeah, she's just so badass. It's amazing. So she's a great role model for girls, I think. But I'll say this, which I think is really cool: Distinctions of gender and even race fall away in this section of the narrative, and I would say because we're all universally oppressed by the Empire, distinctions of gender and race, they're irrelevant to the extant that we're trying to save our lives, get food, fuel and get to the next beat towards the destruction of the Death Star. So I think she's a great role model for any human being, really, who would stand up for what's right and risk their own life to save others. I just think that's so noble. So she inspires me in that way. I'm not allowed to say [her backstory] at this point, and that's something we'll learn. I think that's going to make the experience more rich, to discover not only her backstory, but everyone has a deeply personal reason for joining the cause. I wish I could tell you! [Laughs] But needless to say, she has direct experience [with the Empire] and resentment."

On the crew of the Ghost: "There's kind of the traditional ‘father and mother and kids.' People have made that comparison. I think everyone is equally important and useful. You know, Sabine is a weapons expert, and Zeb is just an incredible fighter. But I think that she really respects Kanan's Jedi abilities, and I don't even think that's a gender-based thing. I want to say she defers to him, and I want to say that he's the spiritual leader, but I think that might be misleading because there really isn't a leader in this group. Like I said, we're all equal. But I do think, like, she would defer to Ahsoka if Ahsoka were flying. Kanan's a Jedi. He has Force sensitive abilities that a Twi'lek pilot just doesn't have. So she's sort of the brass tacks of the operation, and she can get them out of there -- the Han Solo, if you will, though I don't know about the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. [Laughs] I do think she's very adept in that sense, but she doesn't have a lightsaber. At the end of the day, Kanan's the Jedi. I think their relationship is balanced with a give and take of personal sacrifice. I feel like she's the might and he's the spirit. But with that, with Force sensitive abilities, you have so much might that she defers to him a bit."

On her personal fandom of Star Wars: "My personal experience of it, and I've never told anyone this, but having grown up with a mom in show business -- her name is Joan Van Ark; she was on Dallas and Knots Landing -- the journey that Luke faces in the Original Trilogy, that's what hooked me. The way he forgives his father for going to the Dark Side... And forgive me, but I'll just say show business is somewhat like the Dark Side! For a long time, I felt like it took my mom away from me. Even when I would be having dinner with her, people would come up to us and say, ‘Can I have your autograph?' I'm not about to deny anyone that, and they feel like they know her, but I felt less important, like that was her true calling and her real family. I was very sad about that. I went through my own rebellion, and I went through my own issues of dealing with my own dark side, and I've come out the other side of it, and I've learned so much from Luke's journey. To commit to walking towards life instead of death -- I'm not saying I'm a Jedi, but I am saying I identify with 1) seeing that your parents have clay feet, and 2) understanding that going to the Dark Side is a choice, but there's a tremendous backstory for Anakin, and I think Clone Wars illustrated that for us. I was just telling my friend, I was watching Return of the Jedi again, and to see that final scene where Luke would rather die than turn to the Dark Side, that level of commitment to the Light Side and the Jedi path... He moves Anakin, or Darth Vader, to save his son. In that moment, Palpatine's killed, and there's so much going on. Anyway, I was moved by the hero's journey in that, and I have now become best friends with my mom. I love her dearly, and there's a level of forgiveness and mercy and maturity that I think Luke goes through. There's Tatooine, when he's like, ‘I want power converters!' -- shut up! But then when we see who he is in Return of the Jedi, it's so satisfying. That inspired me to become a better person. So I care about it really deeply. When I want to get angry about anything, I think, ‘Anger is the path to the Dark Side. Don't do that.' So it's really helped me become a better person in my own life. So that's basically it."

On whether adults will like Rebels: "I think a lot of the diehard fans were born in the '70s, and they loved the original trilogy. They were not fans of the prequels, and I understand some of them are forever damaged by Midichlorians and Greedo, and I totally hear that. I think they will be pleased with this, because I think that it is an ode to the Original Trilogy. So if they found that satisfying, I think it's a home run. Kids who were introduced to Star Wars at that time, they loved Jar Jar. We were skeptical by that point. I think the people who are going to come to this at this time, whether they're returning for the ode to the Original Trilogy or it's their first introduction, I think it's going to be like soul food. We are starving to death. I mean, I'm so sad that Clone Wars is over. I'm forever wounded by that. So I'm hoping that Rebels fills that void for me, and I think it will. So for skeptical fans, I would say, if you like the original trilogy, then you're going to be okay. Is it geared towards little boys? I think the existential issues in it and the political ideas are going to satisfy pretty much across the board. I really feel confident about that, much in the same way the original trilogy changed our world. So I don't think we can go wrong with that. Even just hearing the music with Kevin Kiner, I get goosebumps. It inspires me. I'm really thrilled to see how it comes together."


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