Star Wars Celebration: Everything We Learned About The Mandalorian Season 3, Andor, and More

The Mandalorian season 3 panel offers glimpses of more Mandos and a look at Mandalore’s ruined capital city. Thursday's Lucasfilm's studio showcase includes news about the fifth Indiana Jones film and a Willow series trailer and date announcement.

by | May 28, 2022 | Comments

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Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Star Wars Celebration, the four-day geek prom devoted to the Galaxy far, far away took Anaheim, California by storm over the Memorial Day weekend. And while one of its major intentions is to celebrate the fans (there was even a fan-focused disco), it is also the place for Lucasfilm to debut new details and previews about its upcoming projects. They even reveal new projects from time to time.

Naturally enough, Rotten Tomatoes was there with the fans, gasping as the Celebration Stage offered the new peeks and surprises — like a mini-concert from Star Wars composer John Williams. And we kept a detailed journal of everything we learned, including new shows, release dates, and trailer sneak peeks. It was definitely a hectic four days filled with the unexpected. Thursday, for example, gave us Jude Law’s entrance into the Star Wars universe…

Jude Law Joins the Grammar Rodeo

One of the biggest surprises to come out of Celebration 2022’s first day was the news that Jude Law would be headlining one of the upcoming Star Wars shows. Previously known by the codename “Grammar Rodeo,” Star Wars: Skeleton Crew will tell “a story about a group of kids — [each] about 10-years-old — from a tiny planet who get lost in the Star Wars galaxy,” according to executive producer Jon Watts. “They’re trying to get home.”

The show will take place in roughly the same time period as The Mandalorian – and, as it happens, Mandalorian producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will serve as executive producers on the series. Also onboard: Spider-Man: Homecoming writer Christopher Ford.

“It stars kids, but it’s not a kid’s show,” Ford said.

Filoni was quick to amend that, indicating it will be similar in some ways to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, although, he added “but we cut people’s heads off [on that show].”

It is unclear who Law will play or what his relationship will be to the kids lost in space, but pre-production on the program has begun with Ford and Watts saying the show will air in 2023.

Andor Gets a Poster, a Trailer and a Release Date

Andor, the direct prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has been long in the works. But fans were delighted to learn the most important bit of intel about the series: it will debut on Disney+ August 31. Additionally, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first two episodes will stream that day.

“I think what’s remarkable is the sacrifice that Cassian Andor makes for the galaxy,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said when asked why the company choose to return to the character. “And I’m going to add to that the way Diego Luna plays him.”

As previously reported, the series takes place five years prior to Rogue One.

“Those [first 12] episodes will take us one year closer,” creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy said during the presentation.

ANDOR digital key art

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Click here to view full-sized poster in new tab.

Shooting on the second season begins this November. Like the first, it will occur over 12 episodes and, as Gilroy explained, “it will take the story over the next four years and the last scene will walk viewers into Rogue One.”

In terms of theme, Luna said, “It’s about us. It’s about the power we have.” But as the program will also see Cassian in a more selfish mode. The actor said the show is also a chance to “go as far as possible from that amazing man who sacrificed everything for the cause.”

When Rotten Tomatoes spoke with Luna after the presentation, he told us “[When] you see Cassian in the five years before Rogue One, you wouldn’t believe he was capable of what he did [in the film].” He felt illustrating the character’s journey from selfishness to a truly selfless act is important. “It reminds us what we are all capable of, you know? It doesn’t matter how far you feel from actually being part of change,” he explained. “I like it because I always feel, with Star Wars, that it ends up being very pertinent and, today, we live in a world that needs us involved. And this is a story about that awakening.”

“And just, as an actor, I find it fascinating — the opportunity to answer all the questions that the film doesn’t answer,” he added.

During the panel, he also mentioned his excitement to shoot season 2: “The beauty is, there’s no way they will kill me,” he joked.

Beyond the chance to define Cassian in a greater way, Andor offers further opportunities to present the oppression of the Empire. When we asked executive producer Sanne Wohlenberg about it, she said there is a pressing story reason to include scenes of Imperial troops mistreating people. “I think when you’re telling the story in the world where the Empire is an oppressive political dynasty, then you have to depict it because you are [also] building a rebellion,” she explained. “You have people on a course to stand up for themselves. So, you have to get a sense of the world that people are living in to understand their actions.”

Gilroy, meanwhile, teased that “it’s pretty complicated to be in the Empire in this period of time” when we asked him about Imperial oppression. “And that’s a really interesting thing to explore.”

The show also features actors like Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, and Stellan Skarsgård, who plays a Rebel Leader called Luthan Rale – although, Gilroy checked himself when he described the character that way, suggesting it may be more complicated than Lucasfilm is letting on.

Genevieve O'Reilly and Diego Luna

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

But one indisputable member of the Rebellion Alliance appearing in the series is Mon Mothma, played once again by Genevieve O’Reilly.

“It’s such a gift to come back to this role. As actors, we join something for a series or a play. You invest in a character for maybe three years if your lucky,” O’Reilly said. “I played this woman nearly 17 years ago. And to come back and investigate her now with Tony’s writing and alongside Diego Luna, I feel so lucky.”

She later told us that there are “endless” possibilities to investigate the character as she navigates the halls of power in the Imperial Capital. She also mentioned one of the great aspects of Star Wars is the way “the epic and the intimate walk side by side, holding hands” within its setting.

The group unveiled a teaser poster and trailer. The latter will remind Rogue One fans of that film’s grittier feel as overcast forest worlds face the threat of Imperial oppression and the music of composer Nicholas Britell takes point.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Introduces a New Princess Leia

Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor

(Photo by Matt Kennedy / Lucasfilm Ltd.)

In all the lead-up to the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series held back one key detail – Princess Leia Organa would play a important part in the tale. Now played by young actor Vivien Lyra Blair, she proves to be a formidable presence whether disobeying her adoptive mother, escaping her duties as a princess, or taking charge from Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) himself. Blair received a warm reception during the surprise screening Thursday night and in a brief moment onstage afterward. Will she also prove formidable should she meet Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen)? Time will tell.

McGregor, meanwhile, told us that while the Dark Side is in ascendancy during the series and it is, indeed, seductive, he never contemplated what it would mean for Obi-Wan to fall.

“He’s never been tempted over there,” the actor said. “I think he’s suffered from the seeing the power of it. He’s lost his brother to the Dark Side and Order 66 destroyed his way of life and all of his other friends. [Even] his spirituality, his ability to explore the Force has ended because the Inquisitors are tracking down the last of the Jedi.”

“He was always kind of by the book in the Prequels,” he added. And though the episodes available so far see him closing that book, it is clear a fall to the Dark Side is not a chapter Obi-Wan will ever read.

Christensen, meanwhile, said with a laugh that it is “hard not to be seduced by the Dark Side.” The sentiment was echoed by both Rupert Friend, who plays the Grand Inquisitor, and Moses Ingram, the actor behind the headstrong Second Sister also known as Reva.

“I have fun,” Ingram said. “It was really dope to be out there and put on that suit and to be able to layer a character in that way.” She added series director Deborah Chow would play music on set to enhance that feeling of power for the Inquisitors. “You can feel it,” she said.

When we spoke to Chow, she mention the legacy of the Prequels and what people know about Obi-Wan in the Original Trilogy comes with a certain weight and responsibility to navigate in telling this tale. Nevertheless, she and writer Joby Harold keyed in on the fact the setting of the series is “a very different period for the characters in their lives.”

She continued, “What was really interesting to explore is that they’re not exactly the same characters they were in the Prequels or going into ‘A New Hope.'” That realization became a “fascinating” aspect of the development and, as we’ve already seen with the first two episodes and the realization that Obi-Wan was not aware of Anakin’s continued existence, it will lead to unexpected discoveries.

Returning to Anakin and Vader in Obi-Wan also brought up some memories of the Prequels for Christensen. His first film in the series, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, turns 20 this year and while it is not the most beloved on the critical front, he is glad the fans have always been there for it. “It’s amazing to have these films continue to live on and find new generations of fans and have them be very vocal about their passion for [the movie],” he said.

And Then There’s Willow!

Willow Ufgood makes his triumphant return this November in a full Willow series. Warwick Davis reprises the role with fellow feature film castmate Joanne Whalley also returning as Sorsha. Although, as the teaser trailer suggested, her situation may not resemble where we last saw her. But, as Whalley put it, “I’ve got Sorcha’s sword in my hand again, it’s incredible!”

Meanwhile, her daughter Kit (Ruby Cruz) trains to be knight despite her title as princess. She also joins a fellow knight-in-training, Jade (Erin Kellyman), and kitchen maid named Dove (Ellie Bamber) on a quest to find Willow.

Granted, the trailer suggests there will be much more to the quest once they find him.

Ron Howard returns as an executive producer with his Solo: A Star Wars Story cohort Jon Kasdan taking the creative reigns. Following the presentation, Rotten Tomatoes asked Kasdan about the one other bit of Willow lore out in the wild: the Chronicles of the Shadow War series by George Lucas and Chris Claremont. The novels took the story of Elora Danan and Willow in a wild direction and Kasdan said that while there will be some nods to them, the series will follow a different path.

“Chris Claremont is a brilliant guy and X-Men writer. He had a fantasy novel in his head and George wanted to be involved in that. It was a way to continue this story at the time.” he explained. “but they’re not the story we’re telling.” Kasdan suggested that, just like the way Lucas regarded the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, he “wouldn’t have felt like he would’ve been [beholden to the Shadow War]” had he made a Willow sequel. Nevertheless, the series will “honor the legacy of the characters” and the novels will always be part of the larger lore if not part of the show’s continuity.

Kellyman added that while the show may not have the expansive lore of Star Wars and its rich history of novels, it still has “a lot of history to it” thanks to the inferences in the first film and the fans’ refusal to ever let that world vanish completely. She also said the series features a certain relevance to current, real world dilemmas. But thanks to “the fantasy twist,” the viewer may not see that relevance until they are deep into the characters’ journey.

Cruz agreed, saying, “I think it’s going to be really relatable, really powerful.” She also felt that though the lore is pretty much limited to the original film, that it was important to “keep the heart of Willow alive … it’s this out-of-this-world sort of experience, but also the humor and the comedy was so eighties and so relevant to that time.”

Describing her character as a “firecracker,” she teased, “There’s so much to Kit that even she doesn’t even know in the beginning.”

And what of Willow himself? “In one way, it felt like no time had passed at all,” Davis said when asked about getting back into costume after all this time. “We were on set, I was like, ‘yeah, I know how we do this.’ It’s what I wanted to do for years: be back here, again, playing this character and that was so exciting.” He admitted — just like any other job — there were challenges, but the notion of “how thrilled people were gonna be to see this again” really helped with “difficult conditions, tiredness, and what have you.”

“The audience at the end of this is going to really dig the whole thing,” he added. “Even though we made this for the smaller screens, it’s still got a very cinematic epic kind of feel to it.”

Willow debuts November 30 on Disney+.

The Mandalorian Moves to 2023

The Mandalorian s3 title

(Photo by ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

“I’m so excited about Willow!” Filoni said as he took the stage.

Although there was always some hope The Mandalorian’s third season would debut before the end of the year, Favreau and Filoni made it clear we will have to wait a little longer to see the next volume in Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu’s journey. But there was barely a moment to process the news as the pair unveiled a look at the coming season. A teaser trailer featuring glimpses of a Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) in yet another fantastic robe were tempered by some dark tidings. Djarin has been exiled from the Children of the Watch and must still answer the problem posed by Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), but as he put it towards then end of the trailer, “I’m going to Mandalore so that I may be forgiven for my transgressions.”

Katee Sackhoff

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Sackhoff joined the pair on stage to announce about her status in the Star Wars galaxy: “I have unfinished business.” We presume that means winning the Darksaber from Din Djarin. But considering the scenes in the trailer — which even see her sitting on a throne very similar to the one on Mandalore — it is still possible she may join his cause in the end. Well, once he truly identifies it.

The trailer also confirmed the return of Imperial scientist Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), proving the Remnant is not done looking for the youngling in Djarin’s care. And speaking of Grogu, the common tongue may soon be his.

According to Favreau, production has wrapped and the program is in the editing room, but as Disney subsequently confirmed, it will return in February next year.

panel for “The Mandalorian” series at Star Wars Celebration

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Favreau and Filoni offered more details about the upcoming season on Saturday with an hour-long panel devoted to the series. Well, when Filoni and Favreau get on stage, it is also about not giving details! The pair are known for their intense level of secrecy – Mandalorian Armorer actor Emily Swallow told us they gave her no indication she would be a recurring character – but they lifted the veil for an extended version of the sneak peek from Thursday. The additional material gave glimpses of more Mandos, including Paz Viszla with heavy gun in hand. It also offered fans in attendance a look at Mandalore’s ruined capital city.

Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian season 2 poster

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

And though missing from the teaser video, Giancarlo Esposito offered us an inkling of where Moff Gideon is and what he’s doing.

“The assumption is he’s in jail or behind bars or cuffed. And he has to try to free himself [from who he was]. It’s such a mental analogy for what life really is: to see things a different way,” he teased. “But no, he won’t do that. He doesn’t want to do that. He wants to be able to help people through his investigation of who this Child [is].”

Earlier at the panel, Esposito also suggested Grogu may, somehow, reach to the “Child” inside of Gideon. But, as Esposito later told us, Gideon is still assured of his convictions that his way is correct. Or, as the actor put it “I have great ideas and you don’t.”

Sackhoff, who also spoke to us after the panel, also inferred the how and why of her choices on the Imperial cruiser in the season 2 finale.

She had “a very, very clear goal in Season 2 and for, whatever reason, she goes against it,” the actor said. “I think fans of Clone Wars and Rebels are questioning why she wouldn’t have accepted [the Darksaber] … but I think that it would be fair to say that she is second guessing herself.”

How that relates to the glimpses of her in the tease seemingly on Mandalore remains to be seen.

Grogu and the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) in The Mandalorian season two

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Pascal, meanwhile, expressed to us one regret in switching from the Razorcrest to the refitted Naboo starfighter: “One has a bathroom and the other doesn’t.” But he also said, “as long as it has a perfect little pod for Grogu, then I’m good.”

Carl Weathers also returns in the new season as both Greef Carga and as an episode director. And though he could not say more about the character beyond his fondness for fine clothing when we talked to him, he was able to discuss the advantage of making television with technology like the StageCraft volume, which brings the wide vistas and alien landscapes of Star Wars to the production’s soundstages via immense, computer controlled projection screens.

“I’ve been directing in television and film since 1993. This technology takes you into a completely different place,” he said. “Emotionally, psychically, psychologically, [and] visually, of course, you’re impacted by it.” He recalled the tough days of genre filmmaking when acting against special effects meant looking at a laser pointer spot or a golf ball; a game of pretend that could lead to inconsistent reactions among performers.

Now, “everybody is seeing the same thing and experience what they experience. And it also allows the audience to experience it as you [the performer] are experiencing it. There’s no seem in there in terms of the impact. So I love it. I absolutely love it.”

The panel also revealed one bit of behind-the-scenes news: Rick Famiyuwa, director of the series’ second episode and several since – Chapter 6: “The Prisoner” being one of the most memorable – is joining Favreau and Filoni as an executive producer.

“The first film I saw in the movie theater was Star Wars and seeing it without any idea of what I was going to see,” he recalled. “And with that first moment with the crawl and the Star Destroyer, my life was changed. This has always been a dream of mine to tell stories in this universe, so it was an honor to do the second episode and stay around ever since.”

He also declined to give any hints about the upcoming season, which prompted Favreau to say, “and that’s why you’re an executive producer!”

Ahsoka Officially Adds Natasha Liu Bordizzo As Sabine Wren

Natasha Liu Bordizzo

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

As we mentioned earlier, part of the Favreau and Filoni way is secrecy even in the face of casting news in the trade papers. So when Natasha Liu Bordizzo finally walked out on stage to crowd of fans now completely sure she is playing Star Wars Rebels favorite Sabrine Wren, a certain level of relief washed over her.

“I can finally say I’m in the show, which is also really, really cool!” she told us after her brief appearance at the end of The Mandalorian panel, which dedicated a handful of minutes to the upcoming Ahsoka series.

Rosario Dawson

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Speaking about the secrecy involved in shooting Ahsoka, star Rosario Dawson told us about relatives still unsure she was in a Star Wars series until the Vanity Fair cover dropped. She also said there was some concern regarding whether or not she could share filming began on her birthday.

“Then I see that Dave and [the Star Wars Instagram account] posted a picture of his hat on the chair. And I was like, Oh, thank goodness. I can at least say that we started,” Dawson said.

Both Dawson and Bordizzo take over the roles from Star Wars Rebels voice actors Ashley Eckstein and Tiya Sircar, respectively. In reference to the decision to recast the characters for their jump to live action, Filoni said, “I set everything back to zero and had to be open to everything that’s going to be required,” he explained. Those requirements include how the performers’ silhouette look on camera and their ability to deal with the strain of long make-up applications and stunts. “I have to find the people who are that person right then and there,” he continued. “What’s strange, and it’s true for everyone here, you write this and look through the camera and there they are … There’s a chosen one and we find them.”

Favreau and Filoni also offered the tiniest bit of footage which seemingly confirmed Rebels character Hera Syndulla will appear and that Sabine and Ahsoka are finally going to find Ezra Bridger following his disappearance some seven years previously. At the very least, his face was glimpsed in a mural presumably made by Sabine, one of the most artistically-minded of Mandalorians, in a moment which seemingly recreates the final scene from Rebels.

The tease represents just a few weeks of shooting. When asked about filming the series during the panel, Filoni said he was “very happy” with how it was going. He also joking clarified that “no one knows where it’s filmed” — a reference back to the Thursday panel, during which Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy mentioned their studio space is somewhere in Manhattan Beach, California.

The producers had one additional surprise for fans: a fully-realized live action Chopper — the irascible droid from Rebels voiced by Filoni himself (a secret he kept until the final Rebels episode) — who wheeled his way onto stage and possibly beeped-and-booped some of the spoilers Filoni has worked so hard to hide. The droid’s appearance, like Bordizzo’s, confirmed he will also appear in the program; a further strengthening of its ties to Rebels.

For Dawson, the series is a culmination of a long process to bring her into Star Wars. The project was in development for some time before it was announced and Lucasfilm took note of the fan campaign to turn her into the Jedi exile. She also noticed the campaign via a specific piece of art which imagined her in the role. “I loved the image Boss Logic did and posted it with the hashtag ‘Ahsoka lives.’ So when [Dave] and Jon started working on it, they had me in mind. And [when I talked to them about it] they had drawn more images of me as this character.” The will of the Force was definitely on her side. And although she expressed her interest in it for many years, nothing was guaranteed until that meeting with Filoni and Favreau.

“It’s been such a thrill to bring this character to life,” she said. “And feel the energy of the people who wanted to see her come to life.”

Ahsoka will stream sometime next year.

The Bad Batch Sets Fall Return

Fans of Star Wars: The Bad Batch were thrilled to learn the program will return this Fall for a second 16-episode season. Sometime has passed since the destruction of the clone facility on Kamino and Squad 99 continues to adapt. There uniforms are brighter (except for the helmets) and while they are still learning how to live without Republic support, they have a new mission. As Echo puts it in the trailer screened during the panel, “There are others out there who need our help.” We’re going to assume he means other clones abandoned by the Empire or still under their sway via the control chips. Commander Cody is, sadly, one of those clones still chipped and serving the Empire and — as the video revealed — Crosshair will team up with him for some mission.

The Batch, meanwhile, will make their way to Coruscant, where Omega will encounter Emperor Sheev Palpatine. But for her, the big issue is strengthening her cobbled together family even if Tech is more interested in continuing to adapt. “That’s what soldiers do,” he says in the trailer, which also features glimpses of Rex, Gungi — a Wookie youngling from Clone Wars — wielding a lightsaber, Fennec Shand, and plenty of Star Wars action.

The preview, a slightly longer version than the one released online, pleased the crowd.

But the panel was also a chance to celebrate the work accomplished in the program’s first season. Emerging from an animatic of an abandoned Clone Wars episode screened at Star Wars Celebration 2015, the Bad Batch became an irresistible set of characters to follow when the opportunity arose to tell a story set in the immediate aftermath of Order 66. And, as it turns out, Squad 99 was a favorite idea of George Lucas.

As writer and story editor Matt Michnovetz explained, “George had this idea of working with defective clones.”

At that moment, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker – who voices all of the clones on the series – broke in as Wrecker to correct him: “We’re not defective, we’re enhanced.”

Michnovetz accepted the correction, saying “Enhanced clones with special skills.”

Head writer Jennifer Corbett continued the story, saying the response to the animatic at Celebration 2015 led to the three-part Bad Batch story in the final season of Clone Wars and, eventually, The Bad Batch as a series. And as that post-Order 66 timeframe crystalized in development, it led to exploring “how they navigate the galaxy when they’re not soldiers anymore [despite] being born and bred to be that.” Complicating matters further was the inclusion of Omega, a female clone (voiced by Michelle Ang) who immediately adopts Squad 99 as her, to quote Corbett, “space dads.”

Baker said one of those adoption moments from the first episode stands out as one of his favorites across the season overall. “[It’s] the cafeteria scene where Omega plops herself down and sees herself as one of them so sweetly and innocently,” he explained. “And the food fight that commences from that, I love it, too!” The actor also noted the real-life parallels to the Empire’s implementation of fascist policies, but that even as the series enters the Dark Times, “it’s also about optimism and making your world better around a kid … that’s a very Star Wars concept.”

Despite the rise of the Empire, the second season will still see it utilizing Republic gear — even as it rushes to phase out the clones with the conscription Stormtrooper program. So expect Republic cruisers and gunships to still chase the Bad Batch.

That sense of using found material also plays out in the soft redesign of the Batch’s armor. As seen in a clip screened during the panel and on a poster given to attendees, the colors of are brighter and more varied – except for Wrecker, who sticking with his greytones for the most part – and replacements pieces indicate the group are picking through the rubble of the Clone Wars to maintain their equipment.

According to executive producer and supervising director Brad Rau, “we iterated to get that kit-bashed feeling, which is really where they are [in their everyday dealings].” But the reinvention of their costumes also indicates they are “in a middle ground on the way to becoming something new.”

Omega, visibly older in the clip, has what Ang referred to as “a little protection” – a new suit and a light helmet. The brief scene also revealed her ability with the energy bow has improved considerably.

The changes are a deliberate contrast to the Imperial clones, who are now “devoid of color,” as Rau put it. “You’ll see more of that.”

Rau, Ang, and Baker treated the crowd to a live script reading. The scene, from episode 108, sees the Batch trapped in a powering-up starcruiser engine and highlights Baker’s ability to switch between the five Bad Batch clones (including Crosshair) on the fly. It was a remarkable thing to see.

“Part of what makes it easy is the great writing we have on this show,” Baker said. “Without it, we don’t have the clarity of purpose.” His comments led to a big round of applause for the show’s production team. Rau highlighted the work of executive producer Athena Portino, who schedules out all of the writing, design, and production work.

And speaking of thanks, Filoni also briefly appeared on stage to congratulate the team. They all worked for him on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and though he is still involved in The Bad Batch, the project was seen as an opportunity for the rest of the group to step up as he moved into live action spaces with The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka. “I love this group,” he said. “[And] something important to us at Lucasfilm is legacy, passing on what you know.” For Filoni, The Bad Batch proved his team is not only capable, but a key part of that Lucasfilm legacy.

Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi Joins The Animated Pantheon

Noting a certain jealously over how great Star Wars: The Bad Batch looks, Filoni returns to animation with the upcoming anthology series, Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, as announced Saturday. The six animated shorts – utilizing the style Filoni first developed for Clone Wars and the upgraded animation techniques of The Bad Batch — take a look at various Jedi as they face the challenges of the Prequel Era galaxy. That group includes, among others, Ahsoka, Count Dooku (when he was a Jedi), Qui-Gon Jinn, and Yaddle.

Yes, Yaddle.

Three of the shorts will focus on Ahsoka, naturally enough. One revolving around her pre-padawan days screened for attendees of the Star Wars Celebration panel. Filoni said he “raised her since she was fourteen” and knows “key things” about her. One key thing may be the influence of her mother (voiced by Janina Gavankar), who, in the short, encouraged her not to be afraid before going on a hunt. Things turn out, well, not quite the way anyone expects, but it seems she really took her mother’s words to heart. Filoni was keen to depict Ahsoka’s mother as mothers tend to get the short shrift in Star Wars despite their importance.

And although the Ahsoka short shown was lighthearted, Filoni warned it is not necessarily the overall tone of the program. “Some of these are dark,” he said. “Some of these I watched later and was like, ‘Wow, what was I doing?’” They also utilize fewer lines of dialogue than one might expect. Filoni pointed to animation legend Hayao Miyazaki as an inspiration for Tales’ somewhat slower pace and contemplative tone.

Of the other Jedi, Filoni teased Dooku made the choices he did “for the right reasons” and his padawan, Qui-Gon (voiced by one of Liam Neeson’s sons while he voices the older Qui-Gon), is forever in search of the “selfless truth of things.”

To complete the continuity of style between Filoni’s earlier animated shows and Tales of the Jedi, Clone Wars composer Kevin Kiner will score all six shorts.

Tales of the Jedi will debut on Disney+ later this Fall.

Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures and New LEGO Tales Are On The Way

Most Star Wars products are aimed at a family audience, but shows intended more directly for younger children are not just a rich part of the brand’s overall history — see the Ewoks and Droids cartoons — but an echo of Star Wars‘s original intention to emulate the Saturday movie serials, which were themselves primarily intended for children. In more recent times, LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and the earlier seasons of Clone Wars and Rebels appealed to the younger demographic, and tradition continues with two new programs announced at Celebration.

Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures takes viewers to the High Republic as a group of Younglings “learn valuable skills needed to study the ways of the Force and become Jedi: compassion, self-discipline, teamwork, patience, and friendship.” Presumably, they will also face of the challenges befalling the Order during that time period, if in a less intense way. Series staff include executive producer James Waugh, supervising director Elliot Bour, executive producer/showrunner Michael Olson and consulting producer Lamont Magee. The program is eyeing a Spring 2023 premiere on Disney+ and Disney Junior.

LEGO Star Wars also returns with LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation. Premiering August 5, 2022, the special stars the voices of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Yvette Nicole Brown, and others from previous specials as Finn arranges a surprise vacation for his friends Rey, Poe, Rose, Chewie, BB-8, R2-D2, and C-3PO aboard the Halcyon following the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But his plan goes awry when he’s separated from the group.

The creative team includes writer and executive producer David Shayne, director Ken Cunningham, and executive producers James Waugh, Josh Rimes, Jacqui Lopez, Jill Wilfert, Keith Malone, Jennifer Twiner Mccarron, and Jason Cosler.

Star Wars Visions To Return In 2023

And to compliment the upcoming animation slate, a panel looking back at Star Wars Visions on Sunday revealed a second set of shorts will debut on Disney+ next Spring.

The first volume took various Star Wars characters into new and unexpected directions as Lucasfilm worked with some of the top anime studios in Asia. This time around, Visions will include contributions from India, South Africa, Spain, France, Japan, Chile, and California. Unfortunately, no other details were released – including whether or not Season 2 will see any of the anime studios returning or if any of their stories will carry on in a second short. Nevertheless, we imagine the second volume will be as startling as the various animation teams comb even further into the reaches of the Star Wars galaxy.

Light + Magic Tells the Behind-the-Scenes Story of Star Wars’ Effects House

While the story of Star Wars thrills and entertains fans around the world, the story of making Star Wars is an equal thrill for those who become enchanted by the how of it all. From George Lucas’s earliest plans for a Flash Gordon film to the StageCraft system used to create alien worlds in the Disney+ shows, the magic behind making the Force possible is every bit as compelling. And with Lawrence Kasdan’s upcoming documentary series, Light + Magic, the magicians at the Lucasfilm special effects company Industrial Light and Magic become the stars themselves.

As Kasdan mentioned at Celebration on Friday, “I’ve been around these movies for a long time – more than 40 years – and I’ve known these people for a long time but never really understood how it happened. ILM is a house of geniuses and George Lucas had a vision to bring them all together. He, with John Dykstra, brought them together and created a place that has been unmatched in 50 years.”

A group of ILM legends including Dennis Muren, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippet, Rose Duignan, and current ILM Executive Vice President & General Manager Lynwen Brennan both told their stories within the series and assembled on the Celebration Stage to tease some of the goings on at ILM. But no recollection exemplifies the place better than the day Dykstra was repeatedly dropping a refrigerator with a forklift. Duignan, setting the scene, asked Johnston if he was in the hot tub that day. He replied in the affirmative.

“There was a group in the hot tub and I saw John Dykstra lifting and dropping an old refrigerator with a fork lift just as George, [producer] Gary Kurtz and one of the Fox executives rode up in a limo and, then, they just drove right away,” she recalled. The incident occurred shortly after ILM hunkered down to produce shots for the original Star Wars after spending half their budget building all the technology they would need to accomplish the task. “That’s when we became known as ‘the country club,’” she added.

Johnston, who mentioned his job finished early so he could be in the hot tub, asked “I thought [sound designer] Ben Burtt was recording those refrigerator drops?”

This new information, 45 years on, came as surprise to Duignan. “I’m glad there was a reason for it!” she said, adding that she wished she could’ve told Lucas and the other executives the reasoning for it.

According to Brennan, the hot tub may be gone, but the sense they can always find a solution to any technical hurdle is still a core part of the ILM sensibility.

“It comes from a place that a story point needs to be told and a director like Jon Favreau is pushing you [to do the best work] and a boss like Kathleen Kennedy, who doesn’t have ‘no’ in her vocabulary. I love that that spirit is still there,” she said.

That spirit, along with a rebellious streak which remains to this day, was also at the core of what Kasdan wanted to share with viewers.

“I want people to watch the show and see problems can be overcome and they can be inspired in the moment and people will support them,” he said. “If just a few people get that out of this show, it’ll be great.”

Light + Magic debuts July 27 on Disney+.

The Star Wars Movies Will Have A “Relationship” When They Return

Although the weekend revolved around the television shows, Star Wars films are still in development — with Taika Waititi’s untitled project likely the first to see release. It will also likely set the stage for the next handful of films to follow. Kennedy told us there will be a consistency of era in the upcoming movies, spurred on, in a way, from the Disney+ shows staying within the span of years between Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  “[It] give us an opportunity to expand further out when we start doing the movies and we can really build off the timeline that’s specific to the movies,” she said, adding “there certainly will be a relationship just like the previous sagas.” Reports indicate the planned films will take place after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Meanwhile, the company is investigating two specific eras before the days of the Skywalkers. “The success of the publishing around the High Republic [helped us] realize we can expand in that era as well,” Kennedy said. The publishing initiative, set roughly 100 years prior to The Phantom Menace, centers on challenge to the Jedi Order that will, eventually, set the stage for their diminished powers a century later. The upcoming Disney+ series The Acolyte will take place during those turbulent days.

And Old Republic fans will be pleased to hear there are discussions about that even more ancient time. Kennedy said it is, in part, the reasoning behind an upcoming remake of the first Knights of the Old Republic video game. “All of those stories are in discussion because, in a way, games and animation and live action, it’s all blending anyway.” She mentioned the Monkey Island games also come up in those discussions of utilizing Lucasfilm games as source material. “Eventually you want those things to relate to one another,” she said. “People have invested a lot of time and years in their love of this. And we recognize that and understand that and want to build on that.”

Favreau, for his part, is happy to stay in the years between Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “I think part of what’s given us so much creative freedom and so much running room is that we are occupying a 30-year span that has been explored in other media, but is pretty clear [filmwise],” he told us. And although the Sequel Trilogy spells out future events for some of the groups and characters in his toybox, he still sees a lot of freedom to “introduce or reincorporate characters that are preexisting [and] catch up with other characters.”

Between The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and Skeleton Crew, Favreau said the choice was really to “double down” on the time period. Of course, understanding that it is an era between film trilogies, he also knows a culmination is on the distance horizon. Thankfully, he still has 25 years between Din Djarin (Pascal) and Grogu’s current adventures and Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) awakening within the Force.

Indiana Jones Carries on With John Williams

John Williams and Harrison Ford

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The first day of Celebration also featured a birthday party of sorts for legendary composer John Williams, who turned 90. And after he treated the audience to live renditions the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Indiana Jones themes, Harrison Ford appeared on stage to say Williams will indeed score the archeologist’s fifth motion picture adventure.

“I’m proud of the movie that we made,” Ford said. “So I’ll be seeing you around campus.”

The film is due for release June 30, 2023.

And It All Happens Again Next Year!

Although Star Wars Celebration generally skips a year — notable exceptions aside — Rupert Friend took to the Celebration Stage one last time on Sunday afternoon to announce the next show will be in less than year. Star Wars Celebration 2023 takes place April 7-10 at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London, UK.

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