‘Ahsoka’ Actor Deliberately Avoided Rewatching ‘Star Wars Rebels’

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Lars Mikkelsen as Thrawn in Ahsoka

Credit: Lucasfilm

As anticipation continues to build for Star Wars’ next big live-action adventure with Ahsoka, one actor is explaining his surprising preparation—or lack thereof—for the series ahead of its summer release on Disney+.

Rosario Dawson in the Ahsoka trailer
Credit: Lucasfilm

Rosario Dawson is back as the titular ex-Jedi in her upcoming solo series, Ahsoka, and this time, she’ll be joined by some familiar faces. While story details remain scarce, the first trailer revealed that Ahsoka will be joined by Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), whose appearances on the show will mark their live-action debut.

Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren in Ahsoka
Credit: Lucasfilm

The crew will surely help Ahsoka in her efforts to track down missing Jedi Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi), who was last seen taking down the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) in the Rebels finale before disappearing into space.

Check out the official teaser trailer for Ahsoka below:

One of the highlights of this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe was the confirmation that Lars Mikkelsen, who voiced Thrawn in Rebels, would return to reprise his character in live-action for Ahsoka. And while the extent of his role remains shrouded in mystery, Mikkelsen certainly had a lot to say on the subject of revisiting his character.

star wars thrawn rebels
Credit: Star Wars

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly on the latest episode of Degobah Dispatch, Mikkelsen was asked if he ever revisited Rebels to “familiarize” himself with the character ahead of his role in Ahsoka. The Thrawn star responded, “No,” and claimed that he actually actively “detach[ed]” himself from any past performances of the character:

DD: Did you ever go back and watch old ‘Rebels’ episodes just to familiarize yourself with how you voiced him and played him before?

Mikkelsen: No, I didn’t really. We needed to do something else, so I wanted to detach myself from that to create something new.

Thrawn was the primary antagonist of Rebels throughout its latter two seasons, and prior to then, had a lengthy history and extensive lore in the Star Wars Extended Universe.

Grand Admiral Thrawn in 'Star Wars Rebels'
Credit: Lucasfilm

With so much information surrounding the character and his many iterations, Mikkelsen explained that it was important he “adapt” his Star Wars villain for the new medium with Ahsoka, as “[there are] certain things that you can do with the cartoon that you can’t do in live-action:”

Well, you need to adapt to, I mean, it being live action. So there’s certain things that you can do with the cartoon that you can’t do in live-action you need to bring down or bring to another level. But in terms of the embodiment of the character itself, I felt like I had practice, you know, for five or six years. Because even when we’re voicing it in a box, we’re still sort of doing it, still making the moves in that box, and doing that thing. I mean… I felt I had practiced.

Thrawn close up in Star Wars Rebels
Credit: Lucasfilm

The Thrawn actor also added that after seeing an animated character embodying his performance for so many years, it was understandably a bit of a “shock” to finally see himself as the character in live-action—blue face paint and all:

ODE: Was it a shock to look at yourself in the mirror though? That first day of the makeup and go…

Mikkelsen: It was. Oh yeah. I mean, they’re so phenomenally good, the people that are working at that… And it takes the better part of three hours to do that transition. But yeah, that was weird, man.

Mikkelsen’s comments mirror similar sentiments to Rupert Friend, who was met with backlash from fans after revealing that he purposefully didn’t watch Rebels while preparing for his role as the Grand Inquisitor in Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he wanted to perform “without doing a kind of impression of anybody.”

Grand Inquisitor talking to Reva
Credit: Lucasfilm

Although Mikkelsen’s situation is undoubtedly different, considering he lent his vocal talents to the character for Rebels, it’s interesting to hear actors’ reasoning behind why they might choose to avoid watching earlier iterations of their character before portraying them in live-action.

Ultimately, this lack of a rewatch could be a good thing for Mikkelsen, considering so much time has passed between the finale of Rebels and the arrival of Ahsoka on Disney+.

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano in her own solo series
Credit: Lucasfilm

Audiences are sure to see a different, more sinister version of the character who’s now completely separated himself from the Empire, meaning Mikkelsen should take a different approach to playing him in live-action.

Regardless, he’ll still be the conniving, strategical Thrawn we all know and love from Rebels—just a refreshed adaptation of the character, ready to wreak havoc over the galaxy far, far away.

Are you excited to see Lars Mikkelsen return as Thrawn in Ahsoka? Let us know in the comments below.

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