Ahsoka Tano: New Casting Could Mean A Change For The Series
Here's everything we've learned about the new Ahsoka Tano series.
One of the new series announced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy at the Disney Investor’s Day 2020 was Ahsoka, a series coming to Disney+ and led by Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano. First voiced by Ashley Eckstein in The Clone Wars and other projects including Star Wars: Rebels and briefly in The Rise of Skywalker, Ahsoka was first realized in live-action by Dawson in season 2 of The Mandalorian . Now, there’s a lot more news about the series than there was in 2020.
THE CAST OF AHSOKA
The first big casting news for Ahsoka came in October 2021 courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, and it was fairly huge. Hayden Christensen will be reprising the role of Anakin Skywalker in the series — Ahsoka’s former Jedi Master who eventually succumbs to the Dark Side and is transformed into Darth Vader. Ahsoka will be set roughly five years after Return of the Jedi, after Vader is long, so presumably Christensen’s appearances will either be in flashbacks, as a force ghost version of his character, or possibly both.
In November 2021, it was announced a fan-favorite character from the Star Wars animated series had been cast for Ahsoka. Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Guns Akimbo) will be playing Sabine Wren. A Mandalorian, an explosives expert, and an Imperial Academy dropout, Sabine Wren is one of Ahsoka’s dearest friends. An Ahsoka series without her would be nuts.
Not long after Bordizzo’s Sabine Wren casting was announced, word leaked that Ivanna Sakhno had been cast in Ahsoka. No one is sure yet exactly who the Ukranian actress is playing. However, her experience as a pilot in Pacific Rim: Uprising should give her some useful experience as far as wearing wild, science-fiction-y outfits is concerned.
In early January 2022, Birds of Prey star Mary Elizabeth Winstead was added to the cast of Ahsoka. As of yet, there is no word on exactly who Winstead will play. Hopefully that will change soon.
THE MANDALORIAN’S AHSOKA TANO
Rosario Dawson made her appearance as Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian episode titled The Jedi. Now that Kennedy made the announcement of the Ahsoka series, looking back one can see how this episode served as a sort of pilot for Dawson’s Ahsoka. When Ahsoka debuted, it was thought, by Mando, that she would be the one to take Baby Yoda (Ahsoka revealed his name to be Grogu) and train him in the ways of the Jedi. Instead, Ahsoka sent Din Djarin and Grogu on a new path, one that would allow Grogu to determine his own future.
But sending Mando and Grogu on their merry way wasn’t truly what we wanted to see of this fan-favorite character. No, we wanted to see if she had the goods. Did she possess the skills fans knew and loved? Was she up for the battle? The answer to both those questions was a resounding yes. “The Jedi” episode actually gave us two great battles: one between Mando and Michael Biehn’s “Enforcer” and then Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano squaring off against Diana Lee Inosanto’s the Magistrate.
Filoni raved about the battle, noting Inosanto’s ability in martial arts. “I needed the performance from the Magistrate to challenge Ahsoka and be someone that could go toe to toe with her instantly. Diana brings such experience and knowledge about martial arts to her performance,” he told Vanity Fair. “The instant she takes up the Beskar spear you can tell that she is a lethal opponent. For me, as a director, it was a great advantage to have someone of Diana’s skill and experience with fight choreography as one of the main players, especially for the final battle in the courtyard.” Filoni then summed it up about the confrontations between the four. “In both Michael and Diana, I had two people who knew their characters; they brought so much to the roles through their personal skills and experiences. As the villains of the story, I felt we had a good matchup of Mando and Ahsoka versus the Magistrate and her gunslinger.”
And then, Ahsoka Tano’s story comes to an end. Little did we know that Filoni, Jon Favreau, and Kathleen Kennedy had bigger plans for Dawson and Ahsoka.
FROM ANIMATION TO LIVE-ACTION
Dave Filoni created the character of Ahsoka Tano for the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars back in 2008, which was based on the 2008 film of the same name. The series ran for seven seasons, six of which ran from 2008 through 2014 and the seventh and final season came earlier this year. Ahsoka moved on to Star Wars: Rebels, which lasted four seasons after The Clone Wars ended in 2014.
Ahsoka Tano was the Jedi Padawan of Anakin Skywalker and was first introduced as a bratty 14-year-old with whom fans didn’t take to in the beginning. But as her story progressed and her relationship with Anakin developed, fans began to finally warm to Ahsoka. But since her creation, Ahsoka had only been seen as an animated character. The closest she ever came to live-action was in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when Ashley Eckstein (who voiced Ahsoka in both Clone Wars and Rebels) made a vocal cameo as Ahsoka Tano. In it, she was one of the voices of the Jedi from the past who were on hand to help Rey in her battle against Palpatine, the one who was responsible for turning Anakin to the dark side.
ROSARIO DAWSON AS AHSOKA TANO
It was a simple tweet that got Rosario Dawson aboard the Ahsoka Tano train. She had received a tweet from a fan who fan-casted her as Ahsoka and Dawson’s reply was simple, “Absolutely, yes please. #AhsokaLives.” Word got back to Filoni about Dawson’s expressed interest and his interest was immediately piqued. He brought up the Ahsoka character to Favreau when the two began working together and when Favreau asked who he had in mind, Dawon’s name immediately popped out of his mouth. It didn’t hurt that when it did, Favreau was on board. So, when the two finally approached Dawson about possibly playing the part of Ahsoka, she was anxious but didn’t want to appear overanxious.
They took it as if she was hesitating, possibly unsure of taking the role. “…they were asking, “Do you want to do this? I mean, we appreciate if it’s not something you want to do.” And I was like, “Oh, no, no, that would be cool, actually. I think we could maybe work this out,” she explained to Vanity Fair. To Filoni’s credit, he just knew Rosario Dawson was it for Ahsoka Tano. He explained that when he was first considering directing a live-action project, he spoke to Kennedy and asked her about casting and when she knew that someone was right for the part. Her simple response, “You just know.”
It was that easy, one Filoni totally agrees with. “And she was right. When I met Rosario, I just knew she was right for Ahsoka. Yes, there was the tweet and her interest in the part; yes, she has been in action movies and is a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy stories; yes, she knew Hayden Christensen and pictures of them together look like Anakin and Ahsoka. But in the end, when I met her and we talked, I just knew.”
While Rosario Dawson can’t share much about the Ahsoka Tano series, she can share bits about her experience behind the scenes. In early 2021, she shared a video of her getting into character.
THE PLOT OF AHSOKA
Rumors have been on-going of the possible Ahsoka Tano spin-off series for some time and there had been reports that the series would include Star Wars Rebels characters Zeb, Hera, and Chopper and possibly continue the story of their pursuit of the missing Ezra Bridger. The Jedi episode of The Mandalorian also revealed that Ahsoka Tano is on the hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn, who had jumped to hyperspace with Bridger at the end of Star Wars: Rebels. So it seems likely the hunt for Thrawn will be a huge part of Ahsoka.
At the present time, Kennedy didn’t announce a premiere date, much less when the series will go in front of the cameras. Production on Ahsoka is expected to begin some time this year. Expect more news to begin leaking.
ANOTHER BIG NAME ADDED
Coming on the heels of names such as Hayden Christensen, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Ivanna Sakhno being added to the case of the upcoming Disney+ series, Ahsoka, one more big name has been added to the cast and this actor already has ties with the Star Wars universe. Ray Stevenson is the latest big name to join the series. There is no word on which specific character Stevenson will play, but sources are saying that he will be portraying the big bad of the series and that he will be playing an admiral, though it won’t be Admiral Thrawn.
Stevenson is a prolific actor and has many times shown up on film as the bad guy. On top of appearing as the bad guy in a number of films, he has also been seen in the Marvel Thor films as Volstagg and on the hit series, Black Sails, as Blackbeard. But Stevenson does have his Star Wars ties as well as he first starred in the animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, voicing the role of Gar Saxon. Stevenson would return to voice the role one more time on the series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This is a nice addition to the cast of Ahsoka.
LET’S GET STARTED WITH AHSOKA TANO
While there is still no official premiere date of the Disney+ Ahsoka series, fans should be thrilled to know the series has finally begun production. In fact, production on the series has been going on since May 9, 2022, when The Mandalorian Twitter page posted a photo from the Ahsoka set informing fans production was set to begin. The photo was a picture of a director’s chair with the name Ahsoka on the back and a cowboy hat hanging from it. We all can presume that is Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni’s cowboy hat, which has become his trademark.
At the end of May, Dawson arrived at the end of the Star Wars Celebration event and with her came Chopper, who will make his live-action debut when Ahsoka hits the small screen. During the event, Filoni, along with Jon Favreau, Dawson, and Chopper, revealed an exclusive first look at some Ahsoka footage. It was a short peek as production had just started. The footage, only shown to event attendees, gave the audience their first look at Ahsoka from behind as she was in landscapes, temples, and the Ghost, Ahsoka’s ship from Star Wars: Rebels. Fans also got their first look at Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) as she was looking at the live-action mural of the Ghost crew she had painted on Rebels. You may know that the crew included Ezra Bridger, who disappeared in Rebels and finding him was the focal point of the series. This quick snippet could lead on to think that Ezra may also be the focal point of the Ahsoka series as well.