Star Wars Rebels premiered on Disney XD last week, and we’re set for an amazing episode 2 tonight! Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Taylor Gray, who voices the character Ezra Bridger, and Steve Blum, who voices the character Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, in Star Wars Rebels. This interview was part of the #DisneyInHomeEvent | #StarWarsRebels | #VeryBadDayEvent press trip. Though travel and accommodations were covered by Disney, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos in this post are courtesy of Disney.
About Star Wars Rebels:
STAR WARS REBELS continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with all-new exciting, action-packed adventures. 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. The clever and motley crew of the starship Ghost is amongst a select few who are brave enough to stand against the Empire. Together, this ragtag group will face threatening new villains, encounter colorful adversaries, embark on thrilling adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion.
About Taylor Gray and Steve Blum’s characters, Ezra and Zeb:
Taylor Gray plays Ezra Bridger, a charismatic 14-year-old con artist, thief, and pickpocket living on the Outer Rim world of Lothal as the Empire strip mines the resources of his homeworld for Sienar’s TIE fighter production. Unbeknownst to him, he is able to use the Force, and has used it to get out of certain predicaments. Stealing to survive, he has no real loyalty to anyone. He joins the crew of the Ghost under the call sign “Specter 6”.
Steven Blum plays Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, a seasoned and intelligent Lasat enforcer who serves as the muscle of the Ghost crew, call sign “Specter 4”. His physical appearance is based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original conceptual artwork for Chewbacca.
What drew Taylor Gray and Steve Blum to Star Wars Rebels:
Steve Blum, a long-time Star Wars fan, said, “I was drawn (to Star Wars) when I was a kid when I first saw it. I was seventeen. I was fresh out of high school, and I went to the premiere in 1977. I was one of those kids in the theatre whose head snapped back when the imperial star destroyer comes across the screen and the whole theatre rumbled. So, I get to relive this on a cellular level. It activates all of those memories from that time. It was stuff that we hadn’t seen before. It woke up something in me and kind of gave me a new hope. But to get to work on something like that now where we’re bringing this to a whole new generation. It’s really exciting for me, and I’m a dad. And so I, I like working on quality programming that’s safe for kids and it’s really got a great underlying message.
It offers a notion that there’s something bigger than we are and that we can strive to be better than we are and that a small group of people can be just as powerful as a large army against injustice.”
Taylor, the youngest member of the Star Wars Rebels main cast, admitted that he hadn’t even seen all of the Star Wars movie prior to beginning work on this project. He said, “I had seen 4, 5 and 6. It’s a nice joke with us, because we have some people in our cast, Vanessa and Freddy and Dave who know more about Star Wars than anyone I’ve ever met. They know things that I think aren’t even in Star Wars (movies). I’ve now caught up and understood why everyone loves it so much.
I remember being in school when I was little, and every other kid had either a Star Wars shirt or a lunch pail or a back pack. And it all makes sense why it’s so appealing. The best part of it is talking to fans of Star Wars and hearing their sentiments and why it’s so special to them, because everyone has their own connection to the Star Wars story. So it’s been really cool coming up through all of it.”
Taylor went on to explain his own process of learning how BIG Star Wars is to so many people. He said, “I had no clue. The first little taste of it we got was (when) they sent us to this thing called Star Wars Weekends in Florida. And I had no idea what to expect. I was like oh, it will be fun to like hang out with a couple people who like Star Wars and go on some rides. There were like 60 thousand people who all had Star Wars shirts or full on costumes, wardrobe, outfits, everything and light sabers. And just seeing that, I realized ‘Oh, wow, we’re in something much bigger than I thought.”
“It’s just amazing to me that after all these years, that the fandom is stronger now than it’s ever been. It’s incredible.” – Steve Blum
The Wolf Pack:
When the each of the actors came to audition for their roles, they were told that they were reading the script for a story called “The Wolf Pack.” They didn’t know at first that they’d have a chance to work on the newest Star Wars production. I thought it was interesting to hear the actors’ thoughts on the Wolf Pack and what they anticipated from this new potential job.
Taylor said, “(I thought it was the) Jungle Book? I thought it was like a discovery, like animal-something…I had no idea.”
Steve was expecting more of his typical voice-over work, “Yeah, I do so many military games and military-type characters that I just figured it was some military guy and some fighting show. I didn’t know what it was. I do a lot of superheroes also, so I really didn’t know until I think I was in the studio just about to record, and I saw storm troopers in the copy and I went, ‘Oh! this is something different. This is Star Wars. This is Star Wars! Yeah, it was that moment of realization.”
Taylor made us all laugh by adding, “Yeah, I still didn’t pick up. I was like ‘Storm troopers? Still probably Jungle Book.”
Steve explained, “Yeah, a lot of shows that we auditioned for are very heavily coded. They want to protect that and we sign non-disclosure agreements once we do know, so I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I had to keep all that inside, and thank goodness I can finally talk about it.”
Steve ended with telling us about one of his favorite scenes (so far!). Steve said, “I love all of it for so many different reasons. I think one of my very favorite scenes that I’ve seen so far was Ezra’s realization that he was doing something of value. After our first initial struggle, and then stealing stuff, and he’s sitting there and we’re giving away food, and that was the whole purpose of our mission. And we’re risking our lives to do that. And to see that look of realization on his face where he’s just going, ‘Well, I didn’t do anything.’ It’s like he didn’t deserve the praise and you see a little bit of a transformation in him and that was a very powerful moment for me. And for me actually not taking care of him and letting him go, that was a really hard thing for me to play as a dad. It was really hard for me to, to just say ‘See, you’re on your own,’ and leaving him with the empire. I mean, that was terrible, but thank goodness we resolved that. I can sleep now.”
Can’t wait to see Star Wars Rebels? You don’t have to wait any longer! Tune in every Monday at 9:00 pm ET/PT on Disney XD. BONUS: The Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion DVD is available to purchase in stores and online!
Follow @DisneyChannelPR and @StarWars for the latest news on #StarWarsRebels, and check out StarWars.com for more exciting news on the series.
Star Wars fans – check out my Star Wars Rebels Activity Sheets, my interview with Freddie Prinze Jr and Executive Producer Dave Filoni, my interview with Vanessa Marshall and Tiya Sircar, my previous interview and Star Wars Day dinner with Vanessa Marshall, and more Star Wars Rebels-inspired crafts and activities.
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