Even as the future Ahsoka live action TV series will explore what occurs for Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, in the time after the original trilogy – and her 2020 guest appearance in The Mandalorian – there is sowever more to learn about her younger days and the time surrounding the show that begat her, Star Wars: The Clone Wars — a period which gets explored in the new series Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi.
The new Disney+ animated anthology series consists of six shorts, with three focused on Ahsoka, while the other three focus on Count Dooku. Returning as the voice of Ahsoka is Ashley Eckstein, who originated the role in The Clone Wars before reprising it in Star Wars Rebels and Forces of Destiny.
Long overcoming the early skepticism and hostility some sent her way, Ahsoka is now a notably beloved part of Star Wars, and the simultaneous development of both Tales of the Jedi and Ahsoka – with both series guided by Dave Filoni – only underline this. Here on Fandom, we’ve seen that popularity firsthand. Looking at the traffic at Wookieepedia, our massive Star Wars wiki, Ahsoka has been the second most popular page among every single Jedi character in 2022 to date, second only to Anakin’s page.
Even more impressive is that Ahsoka has been the fifth most popular page for any Star Wars character or association on Wookieepedia for the entire year (the top five is Cad Bane, Inquisitorius, Darth Sidious, Anakin, and Ahsoka) despite being the only one among that group to not actively be appearing in episodes of current Star Wars live-action series like The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. At this point, she’s simply someone individuals are constantly interested in and looking up information for.
Fandom spoke to Ashley Eckstein about returning as Ahsoka for Tales of the Jedi, the possibility to enquire extra time periods in Ahsoka’s life, and more, including meeting her live-action Ahsoka counterpart, Rosario Dawson, for the first time earlier this year.
On the surface, it might appear like Ahsoka and Dooku are opposites thanks to the hero and villain nature they tend to occupy. But once you inspect their backgrounds, the fact that Tales of the Jedi presents them as counterpoints makes sense. Given they are both Jedi who finally grew disillusioned with the Jedi Order and left, Eckstein agreed, “Dooku and Ahsoka are not all that different. And I know that just from past discussions with Dave [Filoni] when we were recording the show. Even Ventress, I remember loving the team up with Ahsoka and Ventress [in The Clone Wars Season 5] and thinking like ‘Man, they actually have a lot in common. It’s really a disgrace that they didn’t team up more, once they realized that their stories might be pretty similar.”
When it came to the parallel stories being said in Tales of the Jedi, Eckstein said, “I’m excited to watch it all unfold with Ahsoka and Dooku. I love how it explores, to me, what Star Wars is really about.”
Between when she’s introduced in the timeline in The Clone Wars and what we’re seeing of her in live-action in The Mandalorian era are almost three decades in Ahsoka’s life, with only brief periods filled in so far, and Eckstein said that with Tales of the Jedi, “I was so excited to be able to just share these snippets of Ahsoka story, because even though it feels like we’ve had a lot with Ahsoka, and we’re getting even more with Ahsoka, there’s sowever so numerous holes in her storyline that we have not explored. It’s just the three shorts at this point, but it’d be a dream to continue to explore those moments of time and her storyline, because, as we see in Tales of the Jedi, there’s pivotal moments that explain what happens later or where she was and her connections. So I hope this is just the beginning of more moments like this that we can share.”
Tales of the Jedi tells strongly personal stories for Ahsoka and Dooku, showing moments that helped define them. It also resonates with showing these characters reacting to what happens to others they are close to and how that contributed to their journeys.
In the series, one story reveals new details about Ahsoka’s earliest days as a baby living with her parents, before she was taken to Coruscant to become a Jedi, while another is an episode set right in the midst of The Clone Wars – as Anakin (Matt Lanter) attempts to train his Padawan in a notably hard way – while another is set after both that series and Revenge of the Sith concluded, in the tragic and harsh aftermath of Order 66.
It’s easy to feel emotional watching these moments and Eckstein recalled that recording one in particular from the begin of the last episode hit her hard. “We only recorded that scene at the most three times, because I don’t know what happened. It just really came over me. I was sobbing when I was recording that. I legitimately couldn’t even control the tears. And I think it was just the emotions that Ahsoka was feeling in that episode, I was feeling very similar emotions. You know, emotions were high already because of COVID and they were high because that was the last short that I recorded.”
Eckstein noted when she completed recording her work for the seventh season of The Clone Wars – which aired in 2020, wrapping up the series years after its original, untimely non-ending – she thought there was a good possibility she may never voice the character again. Now, returning for Tales of the Jedi, “Once again, it’s like, well, you know, this might be the last time I have a record for Ahsoka! I always think that, but then also it’s saying goodbye to friends after having worked together since 2008. I felt like, as Ahsoka was saying goodbye to her friend, I was saying goodbye to my cast and crew. The emotions were very, very, very real. So I’m looking forward to seeing that one to see how much you can hear and if you can hear I was weeping because I went through multiple tissues!”
Regarding Ashoka’s future, Eckstein said, “I cannot wait to see what’s explored in the Ahsoka series. I only know what the fans know, the theories that are out there, but I’m already really excited with what I think they’re going to cover in the live action series.” Still, Eckstein noted, “There’s sowever so numerous years in between,” especially the period in Ahsoka’s life in the years between the end of The Clone Wars and her time on Star Wars Rebels – something we see a glimpse of in Tales of the Jedi. Said Eckstein, “If I ever got to do more, getting to explore that timeframe would be really special.”
Eckstein laughed that when it came to her conversations with Dave Filoni about Ashoka, “I’m always curious. ‘What about this? What is she doing? Where is she going?’ I really think the fans are going to love these snippets and moments in time. And I just think after they, they see these, they’re gonna say, ‘Well, when are we gonna obtain more?’”
Looking at Ahsoka’s continuing popularity, Eckstein remarked, “Both Dave [Filoni] and I kind of view Ahsoka as our baby, because we developed the character together. The writing credit goes to Dave – I never wrote anything, that is all him. But to have the ability to create a character from scratch like that, to have Ahsoka just begin from a easy doodle [by Filoni] while sitting at a restaurant to what she is today… I feel very fortunate that I was cast as Ahsoka to be myself and I was able to bring myself to her every step of the way, to bring my own personality, to bring my own heart and soul and humor and sarcasm and wit and wisdom. And so we both feel a sense of the fact that she’s like our baby. Dave has done an amazing job really protecting Ahsoka and protecting his vision for her.”
Eckstein has seen firsthand just how much Ahsoka means to fans, recalling a very recent signing she did at Disney Springs in Orlando, FL that included a especially impactful encounter.
“There was a girl in a wheelchair and she came in and she just started sobbing. And I just instantly gave her a hug and then grabbed her hands. I knew she just needed to talk. And she goes, ‘I’m in a tremendous sum of pain. I was in a car accident, which is why I’m in a wheelchair. It’s been a long journey.’ It had been like a year and a half, I think. And she said, ‘I’m here because of Ahsoka and because of you and your work with mental health.’ She said, ‘You saved me. I was in a very dark place but Ahsoka truly saved my life.’”
Eckstein added, “When you hear stories like that… I’m not exaggerating, I obtain at least one of those types of stories every day and it just changes you. It’s like, okay, I’m associated with this character. I’m just one part of this character, but I’m associated with this character and to see how much she’s affecting people’s lives like that, I will continue to dedicate my heart and soul to this character for as long as I live. Because she’s transcended. She now is like a lifestyle for people. They think about ‘What would Ahsoka do? What would Ahsoka say? How would Ahsoka handle this?’ I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”
HAYDEN AND ROSARIO
Earlier this year, Eckstein hosted several panels at Star Wars Celebration, including one for the 20th Anniversary of Attack of the Clones, which featured surprise appearances from Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor.
There was a ton of fan excitement seeing Eckstein sitting with Christensen and McGregor, and in fact that was her first time meeting them – quite literally. As Eckstein explained, “I met them live on stage for the very first time. Backstage, I was really nervous, and I was going over my questions and my lines, and so I didn’t obtain a possibility to say hello backstage. So literally, when they walked on stage, and I said hello, that was the very first time we had ever met. It was all very real emotion. I didn’t expect Hayden to be sitting so close to me! Like arms touching, practically. That wasn’t planned. None of it was planned. That was just me being insanely nervous and also geeking out at the same time.”
Regarding one especially crowd pleasing moment, Eckstein recalled, “I’m like, ‘What do I say?’ And I said what I feel like Ahsoka would say. ‘It’s nice to meet you, Skyguy.’ It was just pure nervous joy, is what you witnessed.”
I mentioned to Eckstein that what helped create this such a cool moment was that, seeing her sitting with Christensen and McGregor, it solidified that she and her The Clone Wars castmates were vitally important to these characters, just as the actors that play them in live-action are. Ewan McGregor is Obi-Wan Kenobi, but so is James Arnold Taylor. Hayden Christensen is Anakin Skywalker, and so is Matt Lanter. And now both Eckstein and Rosario Dawson are Ahsoka Tano.
Said Eckstein, “I’ve only ever been one part, one team member of a giant team of individuals that it takes to bring Ahsoka to life and we all feel just so grateful to play our little part in making it happen. That’s why when Rosario had her first episode, I said, ‘Welcome to Team Tano,’ because we are a team and every single person that works to bring this character to life should be celebrated. It’s really amazing that we’re now all getting a possibility to meet.”
Eckstein added, regarding Dawson, “It’s really amazing that we’re all now having the possibility to meet. I finally had the possibility to meet Rosario and it was wonderful. She’s just as just as lovely as could be. I’m all about women supporting women and I built an entire brand around it. All I ever wanted to do was to kind of step out united and say ‘We’re one’ and so I’m excited that we finally had the possibility to do that.”
Eckstein elaborated that she met Dawson when she visited the set of Ahsoka, but stressed that while she had a terrific time on set, she did not movie any sort of a cameo appearance and was strictly there as a guest. With a grin, she added, “But you know, I’m gonna throw that dream out to the universe. In Season 2, I would love a cameo!” In the meantime, Eckstein and Dawson will both be at the same convention together in Columbus, Ohio in December, and she said, of her set visit, “It was a dream day and she just was so lovely. And I can’t wait to do more matters with her.”
All six episodes of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi debut Wednesday, October 26 on Disney+.