Unfortunately, passion and enthusiasm alone will not propel this new Disney XD series to the top of the all-time animated leaderboard. However, Freddie Prinze Jr. (one of the voice actors on the series) and the rest of the cast and crew believe their new project is headed for greatness.
Sure, one might think that on a promotional campaign tour for press and other media outlets, those involved with the series are going to be on their best behavior, spewing nothing but high praise and thinking about delusional moments of unearned grandeur before the series even premieres. Thankfully for us, this is not the case with this new rag-tag band of brothers and sisters, whose adventures are just beginning.
If Star Wars Rebels is looking for an ambassador, then they need look no further than Freddie Prinze Jr. who is playing the role of Kanan, which series director Dave Filoni is referring to as “the cowboy Jedi.” When the press room fills up, it’s 9:30 in the morning; Mr. Prinze Jr. has his coffee in hand and is quiet at first, but once the question comes in asking if it’s been his dream to play the role of a Jedi Knight, he quickly transforms into a kid again:
Prinze: You ask any boy that question, my age or younger and yeah, that’s what I played when I was a kid. We didn’t play cowboys and Indians, we played Luke and Darth. I mean, there weren’t a lot of Darths back then, so all we knew was Vader. That’s what we played, that’s how I got the scar on my chin. I bent an aluminum flag pole till it snapped while we were playing Lightsabers and as I was sliding down the slide I slipped and that pole got me right in the chin. My mom lost her mind and thought I had died… I was eight-years-old.
It’s difficult to describe the still handsome actor’s joy as he tells us this intimate story from his childhood. His scar is a life long reminder of the passion he has for the Star Wars Universe and it’s one that he hopes to take with him as the cowboy Jedi, Kanan. As our time with Prinze drew to an end, the actor points to his arm to show the goosebumps he clearly has from the shear exhilaration of being a part of this new project. He’s not just doing this for the sake of the show; Star Wars is built into this man’s DNA.
Series creator and executive producer Simon Kinberg (X-men: Apocolypse, Fantastic Four) understands the amount of pressure he’s under from the fans to deliver a show that’s is equal to, or better than Clone Wars. The talented writer had this to say when asked what Rebels has to offer compared to its Cartoon Network predecessor:
Kinberg: I think Clone Wars is more akin to the prequels and Rebels is more akin to the original trilogy. Clone is a slightly more story driven, slightly darker show and Rebels is a more character driven, inspirational show, in a way the original movies were. We wanted to create characters relatable to those from New Hope. The series, like the films, has moments of real darkness with scary villains. Clone Wars took place in the middle of a war, whereas this is the beginning of a new war and rebellion.
While Kinberg couldn’t tell us everything about the characters we might see from the original trilogy, there will definitely be some fun Easter eggs for fans to discover as they begin to watch the series. He also said that the writing staff and production teams are working closely with Lucasfilm, which includes J.J. Abrams and Star Wars: Episode VII.
The team behind Rebels clearly has the passion to see it through, but how it will be perceived by the millions watching? Only time will tell.
Star Wars: Rebels premieres on Disney XD in Fall 2014. Take a look at an extended trailer below.