Ever since Star Wars animation guru Dave Filoni made the jump from cartoons to live-action, he’s brought many of his beloved characters with him. While a few, like The Mandalorian‘s Bo Katan and Ahsoka‘s Chopper, are played/voiced in live-action by the same actors who voiced their animated counterparts—Katee Sackhoff and Filoni himself respectively—others have required recasting for their flesh and blood debut. But is the change in actors for the better, or should Filoni and Co have stuck with the originals? Let’s dive in, shall we?
Ahsoka: Ashley Eckstein Vs. Rosario Dawson
Ashley Eckstein has been voicing Ahsoka since the 2008 animated Clone Wars movie, where the character was introduced as a young, headstrong teen—a far cry from the character Ahsoka would mature into. Eckstein imbued Ahsoka with a youthful lilt that managed to sound optimistic even when the young Padawan was at her lowest. Rosario Dawson, on the other hand, plays a more weathered Ahsoka, one who has clearly seen some sh*t as she’s drifted through the Star Wars universe looking for Thrawn and Ezra.
Rosario Dawson is an accomplished actress, and she definitely brings gravitas to the role of Ahsoka. In the end, however, it’s hard to beat Eckstein’s version. After all, she helped to create the character and make her the beloved fan favorite she is today. Rosario Dawson plays Ahsoka—and not badly we might add—but Ashley Eckstein is Ahsoka.
Hera Syndulla: Vanessa Marshall vs. Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is married to Star Wars veteran Ewan McGregor, making her foray into the Star Wars galaxy almost a no-brainer. While she doesn’t mimic Venessa Marshall exactly, Winstead brings her own touch to Hera, making the character just as effective in live action as she is in animation. Once again, the two actors are portraying the same character at different times in her life, making it difficult to say that one is better than the other.
That, coupled with the fact that Winstead’s Hera hasn’t gotten as much screen time as the other former Rebels characters like Ahsoka and Sabine, makes this one a draw for now.
Darth Maul: Sam Witwer Vs. Peter Serafinowicz
Darth Maul may have been played physically by stuntman/martial artist Ray Park in Star War: Episode I-The Phantom Menace, but it was Shaun of the Dead actor Peter Serafinowicz who voiced the satanic-looking Sith Lord—for all four of his lines. Those four measly lines weren’t enough for Serafinowicz to convey any of Maul’s pathos, his anger, and his dark desires in a way that complements the character.
Sam Witwer, on the other hand, was able to express those sides of Maul and many more.
Witwer voiced Maul throughout his redemption arc on Clone Wars all the way to his “final” death at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: Rebels. Witwer defined Maul in a way that Serafinowicz was never given the opportunity to, and today stands as the definitive version.
Saw Gerrera: Andrew Kishino vs. Forest Whitaker
This one is simple. Andrew Kishino is great, but Forest Whitaker is Forest Whitaker. Whitaker’s portrayals of Saw Gerrera in Rogue One and Andor define the character.
Whitaker’s performance makes you believe that Saw is a grizzled veteran of a terrorist cell of Rebels that operates outside of the alliance due to their questionable methods. He sells the paranoia that Saw feels after looking over his shoulder constantly for years upon years as a wanted outlaw.
Not to be reductive or redundant, but as great as Andrew Kishino is as a voice actor, he’s not Forest Whitaker.
The Grand Inquisitor: Jason Isaacs vs. Rupert Friend
Jason Isaacs is probably a lovely person in real life, but as an actor, he’s the personification of the Dungeons & Dragons alignment, Lawful Evil. In roles like Harry Potter’s Lucius Malfoy, Isaacs just oozes charismatic malevolence, and his voice role as The Grand Inquisitor on Rebels was no exception. Rupert Friend, who portrayed The Grand Inquisitor in the flesh on Obi-Wan Kenobi, just couldn’t match Isaac’s energy.
No shade to Friend, but his performance comes off as a bad impression of Isaacs that ironically feels more cartoony than its animated counterpart. Rupert Friend feels like an Inquisitor that could get mildly annoying at best. Jason Isaacs is an Inquisitor to fear.