|Star Wars Rebels|
30-minute time slot
Simon Kinberg (Co-creator)
Star Wars Rebels is a forthcoming animated television series set five years before the original trilogy, during the time frame between the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The premiere episode, a one-hour special, will air on Disney Channel in October 2014, with the series then shifting to Disney XD. With Lucasfilm's reorganization of Star Wars continuity in April 2014, Star Wars Rebels will be the first on-screen entry in the new Star Wars canon.
The series will follow a motley group of rebels—the crew of the starship Ghost—and their struggles against the oppressive Galactic Empire. The Ghost's crew consists of the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus, the teenage con artist Ezra Bridger, the Twi'lek pilot Hera Syndulla, the alien enforcer Zeb Orrelios, the Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren, and the astromech droid Chopper. A primary theme of Star Wars Rebels will be exploring the origins of the Rebel Alliance.
- "…we're going to really show the origins of the rebellion. When our series begins, it's not the Rebel Alliance yet; we start with a group of rebels. It'll be really interesting to show the progress of the Alliance forming…"
- ―Executive producer Greg Weisman, Star Wars Insider 146
The series will begin five years before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, fourteen years into the reign of the Galactic Empire. The general premise is described as follows: "It is a dark time in the galaxy, as the evil Galactic Empire tightens its grip of power from world to world. As the series begins, Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruling with an iron fist and ruining the lives of its people. But there are a select few who are brave enough to stand up against the endless Stormtroopers and TIE fighters of the Empire: the clever and motley crew of the starship Ghost. Together, this ragtag group will face threatening new villains, have thrilling adventures, and become heroes."
- "We have a character who's our focus character, and then five other characters that make up this group of six rebels. Even within the first season, that cast expands, and there are more people, but the focus is still on this small group of rebels who are basically gadflies from the standpoint of the Empire they're fighting."
- ―Greg Weisman
Star Wars Rebels will focus on six main characters, who crew the starship Ghost. They include the teenage con artist Ezra Bridger, the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus, the Lasat "muscle" Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, the astromech droid C1-10P or "Chopper," the Mandalorian explosives expert Sabine Wren, and the Ghost's pilot and owner, the Twi'lek Hera Syndulla. The series will also feature a number of diverse villains, including an Inquisitor.
Kanan Jarrus is a Human male Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66 and the extinction of the Jedi Order, going to ground and setting aside his lightsaber. By the time the show begins, Jarrus has joined up with the crew of the VCX-100 light freighter Ghost, and when the young con artist Ezra Bridger joins the group, Jarrus ends up mentoring Bridger in the use of the Force. Though Hera Syndulla is the Ghost's pilot, Jarrus serves as the group's leader.
Ezra Bridger is a fourteen-year-old Human who lives on the planet Lothal, working as a con artist and thief who frequently targeted the Galactic Empire. Street-smart and loyal only to himself, Bridger is unknowingly Force-sensitive, and is unaware that he has used the Force to help himself out of tough situations before. When the show begins, Bridger encounters the crew of the Ghost and ends up joining them, piloting the attack shuttle Phantom and learning from Kanan Jarrus. Bridger also becomes friends with Zeb Orrelios.
Hera Syndulla is a female Twi'lek who is the owner and pilot of the Ghost, though she did not necessarily acquire the ship legally. Independent and strong-minded, Syndulla also serves as the heart of the Ghost's crew, keeping the group together and bringing the best out of them. She is a skilled pilot who fights against the Empire for reasons that she has yet to share with the other. Though she is not Force-sensitive, her skills as a pilot and gunner put her on par with Force-users, and she is determined to see her missions through to the end. Syndulla serves as a mentor for Sabine and encourages Bridger, and helps Orrelios manage his temper at times. Syndulla is the owner of Chopper, and she is fluent in Binary.
Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios
Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios is a Lasat enforcer who serves as the muscle of the Ghost's crew. A trained and capable warrior on his homeworld, Zeb is highly educated and skilled despite his fearsome appearance. Orrelios strongly dislikes Chopper, a feeling that was reciprocated by the droid, and begrudginly becomes friends with Ezra Bridger. Orrelios's favorite pastime is to beat up stormtroopers, or "bucket heads," and he is an acrobatic fighter in combat.
Sabine Wren is a Mandalorian who specializes in explosives and has a passion for artwork and graffiti. Spunky and feisty, Sabine personalizes her armor, hair, and cabin aboard the Ghost, and frequently leaves graffiti calling cards in the Ghost's wake.
C1-10P, more commonly known as Chopper, is the Ghost's irritable astromech droid. Built from spare parts, Chopper was not interested in gaining the affection of organics, as he was cantankerous and stubborn, though he frequently was essential in saving the rest of the group from dangerous situations. He and Zeb Orrelios dislike each other, and Hera Syndulla is Chopper's owner.
- "They wanted to do an animated show and I loved [Cartoon Network's] Clone Wars and grew up with a lot of animated shows. So we just started to talk about where it would fall in the general Star Wars timeline. Really there was no predetermination going in. It could have been a prequel, sequel, a stand-alone universe."
- ―Simon Kinberg
Star Wars Rebels's Executive Producer Simon Kinberg was involved in the conception of the series; it originated from a desire to create an animated television series, and discussion of where the series would fall in the Star Wars timeline led to the decision to center the series around the Rebel Alliance. Thus, the series was placed between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, during the reign of the Galactic Empire, though not too close to A New Hope that it would feel repetitive. The series's development team set out to differentiate the series from its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, by basing much of the visuals on the designs of Ralph McQuarrie—the artist who developed concept art for much of the original trilogy of films.
- "It has been great seeing the mind meld between our executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman during the writers' conferences. [...] Everyone on the team is so passionate about Rebels, and of course it helps that we are all huge fans of Star Wars!"
- ―Athena Portillo, Star Wars Insider 146
Lucasfilm Ltd. veteran sculptor Darren Marshall, who worked on Star Wars: The Clone Wars prior to its cancellation, developed sculpts for the core characters of Star Wars Rebels before leaving Lucasfilm in June 2013. By December 2013, the production crew had finished developing the series' first season and had begun animating the first script. As of January 2014, the scripts for Season One were halfway completed. Voice-recording had been finished for five episodes, with three more episodes undergoing storyboarding, two more undergoing animation, and the first episode undergoing lighting. Sound design was also underway, with a theme in place for the series. Greg Weisman joined the project as an executive producer in May 2013, though the series had been under development well before then.
On January 17, animation supervisor Keith Kellogg announced that the production crew had wrapped up animation on the first episode of the series. To aid in animating the show, Lucasfilm developed a special tool for Adobe Photoshop that emulates Ralph McQuarrie's artistic style; the character Zeb Orrelios is based on McQuarie's original concept art for the Wookiee Chewbacca. The series' look is also inspired by the work of Hayao Miyazaki—a favorite of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. Filoni requested that the animation crew look at the Disney film Tangled, for which 2D facial expressions were created using 3D animation. Simon Kinberg wrote the series's first two episodes, which serve as a short story arc to introduce the show's main characters. By March 2014, the entire first season had been mapped out, and according to Greg Weissman, the series as a whole is organized as a three-act play. The first season serves as the first act of the overall series, while the second and third acts may take more than one season.
Star Wars Rebels is overseen by three executive producers: Dave Filoni, who served as supervising director on Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman. In addition to Filoni, the Rebels production team includes several crew members returning from Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Athena Yvette Portillo as line producer, Kilian Plunkett as art director, Joel Aron as CG effects supervisor, Keith Kellogg as animation supervisor, and Steward Lee as episodic director. Lee, Filoni's longest-running episodic director from The Clone Wars, is joined in directorial duties by brother Steve Lee, a veteran of LucasArts.
Other returning crew members from The Clone Wars include Amy Beth Christenson, Andre Kirk, Pat Presley, and Chris Glenn on the concept art team, managed by Liz Cummings, as well as Paul Zinnes on the development team. Pablo Hidalgo, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, also works with the team as a fact-checker.
- "Citizens of Lothal: It is by Imperial Decree that you are requested to proudly display these posters on behalf of your Empire. As loyal residents of one of the Empire's most vital stations on the Outer Rim, your compliance is appreciated. Imperial Service is a noble endeavor which paves the way for your freedom and security. Remember, it is the will of Emperor Palpatine to ensure the future of a stable and prosperous galaxy."
- ―Letter included in the Star Wars Rebels propaganda poster mailing promotion
Star Wars Rebels was first announced on March 11, 2013, as an unnamed animated series set to replace Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Its name and premiere date were announced in a press release on May 20, 2013. The series will premiere in fall 2014 with a one-hour special, written by Executive Producer Simon Kinberg, on Disney Channel. Following the premiere, the series will move to Disney XD.
The first Star Wars Rebels teaser trailer debuted on the Star Wars YouTube channel on October 7, 2013. The series' main characters were first revealed at the January 2014 Nuremberg International Toy Fair, which showcased forthcoming LEGO Star Wars Rebels sets. The sets, which depict the Ghost and the attack shuttle Phantom, included minifigures for Ezra Bridger, Zeb Orrelios, Hera Syndulla, and a placeholder for Kanan Jarrus. The box originally identified Zeb's last name as "Orretios," but the finalized boxes at the New York Toy Fair not long afterward corrected the name and included Jarrus's minifigure.
On February 4, 2014, Lucasfilm distributed six original artwork pieces by Amy Beth Christenson exclusively to six select websites across the Internet—ET Online, TheForce.net, IGN, Mashable, Omelete, and Empire Online—to promote Star Wars Rebels. The artwork, presented in the form of Imperial propaganda posters, was part of an exclusive mailing campaign, in which limited-edition cards featuring the artwork were sent to 2,500 people around the world on February 5. The mailings arrived in black-embossed envelopes addressed from the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order on Coruscant and included a letter urging citizens to proudly display the posters in support of the Imperial occupation of Lothal. The six card backs, when combined together, formed the Rebels phoenix logo.
Starting with Kanan Jarrus on February 12, a series of videos were released that introduced each of the five remaining crew members of the Ghost. Kanan was introduced as "the Cowboy Jedi," and "the Street-Smart Hero" Ezra Bridger followed on February 14. Two Rebels teasers, entitled "Spark" and "Ignite," were aired on Disney XD and on YouTube on February 17, and videos introducing Garazeb Orrelios, "the Muscle," Sabine Wren, "the Explosive Artist," and Hera Syndulla, "the Pilot," were released on February 18, 19, and 20 respectively. The videos were released by independent news sources such as TV Guide, IGN, and Entertainment Weekly, and then would be posted on the official Star Wars YouTube channel shortly afterwards. On April 16, in conjunction with a following panel at WonderCon 2014, a clip featuring the character Hera Syndulla was released on the Star Wars YouTube channel. The same day, it was also announced that Kevin Kiner, the composer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, would be returning as the new music composer for Star Wars Rebels. Additional videos featuring Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus and The Inquisitor were released on July 10 and July 17 respectively.
The first full-length trailer for Rebels was released on May 4, 2014. A thirty-second preview of the trailer aired on May 2 on Good Morning America, followed by the full trailer on May 4, which aired throughout the day on various Disney networks and became available online at StarWars.com and Disney.com. On July 9, 2014, ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates featured a Star Wars theme, including elements from Star Wars Rebels. On July 24, 2014, Lucasfilm hosted a panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Known as "The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels", the panel featured Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, as well as the series' principal voice cast. Attendees were each given "HoloNet registration cards" that directed them to a re-launched version of HoloNetNews.com, which now features videos of Imperial propaganda.
- "We're all very dedicated, and we know this show is going to be canon, so we take that responsibility very seriously. We know that on the one hand there's an audience who's going to be watching this that knows everything there is to know about Lucasfilm canon and knows beyond that tons of stuff from the Expanded Universe, which may or may not turn out to be canon once Lucasfilm decides what is official and what's not. So we want the show to work for that group, the most extreme fanboys out there. At the same time, we also have the responsibility that for a certain generation of kids, this is going to be their first exposure to Star Wars."
- ―Greg Weisman
Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo first provided a timeline for Star Wars Rebels of approximately fourteen years after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which corresponds to around five years prior to the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Although the official StarWars.com press release announcing the Rebels character Chopper later alternatively stated a timeline of four years prior to the events of A New Hope, Hidalgo quickly reaffirmed the original timeframe via Twitter. In reprinting portions of the original StarWars.com Chopper press release, the Launch Pad department from Star Wars Insider 148 also stated a series timeline of 4 BBY.
Dave Filoni originally claimed that Zeb Orrelios was of a new species based on Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for the Wookiee Chewbacca, but a preexisting Expanded Universe species known as the Lasat had already been based on the concept art.[source?] Star Wars Insider 148 identified Orrelios as a Lasat, though it misspelled his last name as "Orrelious." Star Wars Insider 149 issued an editorial apology for the misspelling but nonetheless misspelled the character's name again, this time as "Orrilios."
- "The series takes place between Episodes III and IV. By this time, Order 66 has been executed and the Empire's search for the last of the Jedi Knights is in full effect. The events seen in the show take place closer to A New Hope in the Star Wars timeline. However, if you stay tuned, you may be in for some surprises…"
- ―Athena Portillo, Star Wars Insider 146
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- "We have these phenomenal voice sessions with, like I said, this terrific cast. We've gotten some incredible guest stars, some names you'll have heard of and some names that you won't have heard of, but you'll be wondering why you've never heard of them before once you hear what they are doing."
- ―Greg Weisman
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Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels on Facebook
- sienarfleetsystems.com - A Star Wars Rebels promotional site
- 'Star Wars Rebels' interview: New series goes to dark places, embraces 1977 film's spirit
- First look: 'Star Wars Rebels' rustles up a cowboy Jedi
- Greg Weisman Talks Star Wars Rebels and Showing the Beginning of the Rebel Alliance
- HERA Speaks - STAR WARS REBELS' Vanessa Marshall on Pilot, Plot, and Family Dynamic