By Josh Reilly B. and George Bate
As The Clone Wars coming to an end with the highly anticipated final two episodes of the Siege of Mandalore arc, we at Star Wars Holocron recently had the chance to speak with Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano, to talk about her character, her cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, her new children’s book “I Am Padawan”, and more.
When asked what fans could expect to see from Ahsoka in the final two episodes of the show, Eckstein had this to say:
“I will say, just when I thought I couldn’t love Ahsoka more, she continues to amaze me. Ahsoka is just absolutely incredible in this arc. The final two episodes that we haven’t seen yet, she’s just going to continue to blow people away. There’s a reason why I ask myself almost daily ‘what would Ahsoka do?’ because I feel like Ahsoka would always do the right thing and she would always help people. She would always choose the light. She would always choose hope. I don’t want to give anything away, but what she represents and what she stands for, I just admire her so much. It sounds so crazy to admire this fictional character in a galaxy far, far away, but I do, and I think everyone will agree with me after they watch these episodes.”
Eckstein has also played Ahsoka in other Star Wars projects, including making a vocal cameo in The Rise of Skywalker as one of the Jedi voices that Rey hears on the Exegol. Eckstein touched on the behind the scenes process of bringing Ahsoka into the film:
“When I went in and recorded the lines [for The Rise of Skywalker], it was truly surreal. There were only three people in the room and it was at Bad Robot. Matthew Wood and JJ Abrams were the two other people. JJ could not have been nicer. He walked in and introduced himself and then immediately thanked me for being in the film, and I just couldn’t believe it! I was like, ‘Thank you for letting me be in the film!’ So it was really just a truly surreal session. The lines were already written by the time I got there and I didn’t get them ahead of time. I actually was handed the lines when I walked in the room, and talk about a cold read. I was literally reading the lines for the first time as I was performing them, so I was very nervous! But I actually read all of the lines, so all of the lines that you hear in that montage, I assume that everyone read all the lines and then they just mixed and matched and pieced it together. I will say this, [JJ Abrams] didn’t give me too much direction in terms of how Ahsoka would say it. He left that up to me in terms of how Ahsoka would say it. I read it three different ways. I read it really quiet like a whisper, then a bit louder, and then a bit more powerful. And then that was it. It was about a 20 minute session and it was wonderful.”
Beyond her role as Ahsoka, Eckstein is no stranger to branching out into different mediums within the Star Wars galaxy, having launched her own clothing line “Her Universe” and also writing a children’s book titled “I Am Padawan”, which was released this April. On what drew her to write this book, Eckstein detailed how the opportunity to inspire young kids through Star Wars was of great interest to her:
“I have to say, I wrote it from my own experience because Star Wars has taught me so much. I’ve learned many of these life lessons through Star Wars. And after traveling the world over the past 10 years and meeting a lot of fans of all ages, especially a lot of kids, I found that they’re similar to me. They relate a lot of these lessons that we learn in our everyday lives, they relate them to Star Wars, and especially kids. It’s much more exciting to learn a lesson about bravery or hope or even failure if you put it in the Star Wars context, versus if they’re just learning a lesson about failure with something they did at school, but at the end of the day they’re still learning a lesson about failure which is a very, very important lesson that everyone needs to learn. It’s something that I’ve always tried to do. I’ve always tried to relate kids’ everyday lives through Star Wars, so I really tried to take that approach with this book. I have to say, Lucasfilm called me and asked if I would write this, and I said yes without even thinking faster than anything I’ve said yes to in my entire life (laughs). So the credit goes to them for giving me the opportunity to write it, but I very quickly realized how much a book like this means to kids because I was one of those kids. I grew up on the little golden books. I grew up learning so many of these life lessons because of these books, so I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”
Beyond voice acting and book writing, Eckstein is keeping the door open to take on other hats in the Star Wars universe:
“I very quickly realized early on how much Star Wars means to people and I so badly wanted to live up to the opportunity given to me by being the voice of Ahsoka. By being a part of the Star Wars universe, it’s opened so many doors that I never thought would be open to me. I just took the approach of saying yes and seeing where it would take me because these were such truly life changing opportunities. I felt I might as well say yes and I’ll figure it out as I go. I once said I would never write a book and I was okay with that because I just didn’t think I had the talent to do it, and now thanks to Star Wars and Disney, I’ve had the opportunity to write two books. I once thought I’d never write a script or never direct but I will tell you that if I was given the opportunity, I would absolutely say yes just because I feel blessed to be a part of this universe, but it doesn’t come from a place of selfishly wanting to do it. It comes from a place of I see how much joy Star Wars brings to people and I want to continue to do that, so whether it’s through voice acting or whether it would ever be through live action acting or whether it would be directing or writing or whatever it may be. If it gives me the opportunity to continue to bring hope and joy to people, I’ll probably say yes and figure out how to do it later (laughs).”
With The Clone Wars coming to an end, many fans are wondering what’s next for Ahsoka. Although there are rumors that Rosario Dawson will come on board to play the character in the second season of The Mandalorian, the question still remains if Eckstein will ever play the character again after the conclusion of the Siege of Mandalore. On this topic, Eckstein reminded fans that she’s said goodbye to Ahsoka before, and that her reprising her role at some point isn’t fully off the table:
“I have said goodbye to Ahsoka so many times. I think what fans don’t realize is that from the time that Ahsoka walked away in season 5, she wasn’t in the next season very much, so I said goodbye then. Then when [The Clone Wars] was cancelled, I said goodbye to the character and wasn’t sure if I would ever get to come back. Then Star Wars Rebels happened and I said goodbye to Ahsoka then after Rebels ended, and then Forces of Destiny happened and I said goodbye to Ahsoka then. So every single time I’ve said goodbye, she’s always caught me by surprise. I’ll be honest, I said goodbye to Ahsoka after Rise of Skywalker and after Clone Wars and that’s where I’m at now. I’m currently not recording anything, but you never say never. She continues to surprise me and I hope one day I get to voice Ahsoka again.”
We’d definitely like to see more of Ashley Eckstein’s portrayal of Ahsoka in the future. Twelve years ago, the character burst onto the scene in The Clone Wars film to a mixed response from fans, but has since developed to become one of the most fleshed out, interesting, and inspirational characters Star Wars has to offer, much of which is due to Eckstein’s depiction of the character.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, and Golden Books