Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni discussed the impact of Grand Admiral Thrawn on the Star Wars franchise and why so many longtime fans were so enamored with the Chiss Imperial.
Per Empire, Filoni explained his vision for Thrawn in the era of the New Republic and how the villain’s tactical mind set him apart from other beloved antagonists in the franchise. “When Timothy Zahn wrote Heir to the Empire, Thrawn became this very iconic villain, because he was different than anything we’d seen before,” the Ahsoka creator explained. “He wasn’t another helmet-wearing, lightsaber-wielding bad guy, you know? There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like [Darth Vader] because it is so iconic. But the boldness that Tim had was to make somebody that wasn’t like that, that didn’t have those abilities but could fight in a different way.”
Filoni additionally commented on Thrawn’s role as a capable and charismatic leader, which he believed was why the character became so popular. “In the words ‘Star Wars‘, the ‘war’ part of it — him being a Grand Admiral, a leader, a military strategist, a Moriarty archetype, someone that will out-think you, out-strategize you — that really resonated,” he continued. “He’s a critical player in this time period. We’re fortunate to have that character, and fortunate to have [actor Lars Mikkelsen] playing him.”
The Return of Grand Admiral Thrawn
Thrawn made his canon debut in Season 3 of the animated television series, Star Wars Rebels. He was introduced as a Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire, who ascended the ranks of the Imperial Navy despite his Chiss ancestry and the rampant xenophobia of his colleagues due to his analytical mind and ruthless tactics. He is set to return as the main antagonist in the live-action Ahsoka series, where he will be portrayed by his Rebels voice actor, Mikkelsen.
Though longtime fans are excited to witness the Chiss Imperial’s return, Filoni previously revealed Ahsoka‘s crew faced difficulties in bringing Thrawn to life because of his characteristic blue skin. The creator explained how it was tricky to find a shade of blue that would blend well with live-action settings, stating that a scene might appear too similar to an animation if the color was too strong. Filoni further stated that this meant the crew behind the show needed to use a blue that was “complex, that has multiple layers to it, that has transparencies and a sense of blood and skin.”
Ahsoka is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ in August 2023.
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