17 Star Wars Characters Who Have Leapt From Animation to Live-Action

Thứ sáu - 17/05/2024 22:05
Ahsoka Tano is hardly alone when it comes to characters previously introduced in animation now becoming part of live-action Star Wars adventures.
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When George Lucas launched the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2008, alongside Dave Filoni, it seemed possible there might never be any more live-action Star Wars movies, let alone any TV shows. Now though, we have a steady stream of live-action stories coming from a galaxy far, far away.

Because every medium Star Wars stories are told in these days can be interconnected and nearly all those stories are in the same continuity and considered official canon, it would make sense that characters would make start to make the jump from animation to live-action, and that has been happening increasingly frequently recently, underlined by the debut of the new Disney+ series, Ahsoka. Not only is the title character in Ahsoka one we first met in animation, but the same goes for many supporting characters, with the opportunity for even more as the show continues.

Read on for a list of many notable characters who have made the animation to live-action transition in Star Wars so far, as we ponder who might be the next one to join them.

Boba Fett

Boba Fett as seen in The Star Wars Holiday Special and in The Empire Strikes Back

We’ll start with a bit of an honorable mention here. Boba Fett was designed for The Empire Strikes Back before he was ever considered for animation, but he is technically the first character to first appear in animation before we saw them in live-action in the Star Wars universe.

Debuting in 1978’s infamous The Star Wars Holiday Special as part of the animated segment that Chewbacca‘s son, Lumpy, watched, Boba Fett was introduced to audiences as a supposed ally to Luke Skywalker who ultimately betrayed him. The character came to live-action about a year and a half later in 1980’s Empire, where his role as a bounty hunter working for Darth Vader, as depicted in the Holiday Special, continued. Oner time, he grew in fame through Return of the Jedi, then Attack of the Clones, before returning to animation in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And though we all thought he had died in Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett was rescued of that fate and reappeared in The Mandalorian, before getting his own show, The Book of Boba Fett

Saw Gerrera

Saw Gerrera as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Saw Gerrera began his Star Wars adventures in the fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Introduced as a radical partisan freedom fighter on the planet of Onderon, the death of Saw’s sister, Steela, was a tragic turning point in his life. After fighting the tyranny of the Separatist occupation on Onderon, Saw would then go on to set his sights on the Empire. He made his live-action debut in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, depicted as a damaged cyborg, both physically and mentally, though one still fighting against the Empire.

Forest Whitaker took on the task of bringing Saw to the big screen, and actually voiced him in animation as well when the character appeared on Star Wars Rebels, in events set not too long before Rogue One. However, actor Andrew Kishino, who had originated the role as Saw’s voice on The Clone Wars, has also returned to voice him more recently, in his younger days, on Star Wars: The Bad Batch, even as appearances by Saw later in the timeline — including a role in the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and in live-action again on Andor — continue to have Whitaker as the character, closing the circle on the character.


Chopper as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

Though we’re seeing a lot of characters from Star Wars Rebels on Ahsoka, the very first member of the Ghost crew that transitioned into live action was the droid Chopper (C1-10P for those keeping score). The surly droid, the angry cat to R2-D2‘s loyal dog, was a key member of the Rebellion and a beloved part of the Rebels animated series.

Chopper can first be seen in live-action, operated offscreen by Matt Martin, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, in Rogue One, toddling along at the Yavin 4 base, around the time the Rebels discover that the Rogue One team has taken off on their mission to Scarif. Now, he’s a part of Ahsoka in a much larger role, alongside his friend and fellow Rebels alum, Hera Syndulla.

As far as Chopper’s voice and the distinct noises that he makes, confirming a rumor, it was revealed in the final episode of Rebels that it’s actually Dave Filoni providing life to the rebellious droid.

Bo-Katan Kryze

Bo-Katan Kryze as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in The Mandalorian

As George Lucas and Dave Filoni looked to further explore the Mandalorian people on The Clone Wars, fans were introduced to Bo-Katan Kryze, a warrior from Death Watch terrorist group. No one could have guessed initially that she was the sister of the Duchess Satine, who was herself both the leader of Mandalore and a former love interest of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Maul killed Satine, it sent Bo-Katan spinning away from Death Watch and we would go on to see her take up the leadership of Mandalore, and be given the legendary Darksaber, in Star Wars Rebels.

Years after her animated debut, Bo-Katan eventually came to live-action in an episode of The Mandalorian, as she and her Nite Owls rescue Grogu and Din Djarin from pirates. She was on a quest to recover the Darksaber from Moff Gideon, after his purge of Mandalore, and becomes a main figure once again in uniting her people. Notably, Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff, who had voiced the character in animation through all her previous appearances across two series, was asked to play Bo-Katan in live-action, which has been a rarity when Star Wars characters have gone from one medium to another.

Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in Ahsoka

In 2008, Ahsoka Tano — voiced by Ashley Eckstein — made her debut in the theatrically released animated feature film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. At best, reception of her character was mixed, but over the first five seasons of the subsequent The Clone Wars series, she became a beloved favorite, as we followed her journey from serving as Anakin Skywalker‘s Padawan to leaving the Jedi Order behind.

When she made her first appearance on Star Wars Rebels, it was a revelation that Ahsoka had somehow survived Order 66 and was still alive years later. This paved the way for her surprise live-action debut in the second season of The Mandalorian, played by Rosario Dawson, where she was able to reveal Grogu’s name to Din Djarin by communing with the youngling through the Force.

Her appearances on The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett set the stage for her own show, Ahsoka. On that series, she is attempting to hunt down Grand Admiral Thrawn and find her friend, Ezra Bridger, tying the ending of the final season of Rebels to this new show.

Cad Bane

Cad Bane as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in The Book of Boba Fett

Debuting in an impressive manner in The Clone Wars‘ Season 1 finale, the Duros bounty hunter Cad Bane was one of the most notorious bounty hunters during the Clone Wars era. Talented enough to frequently be hired by Darth Sidious himself, he tangled with Jedi ranging from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Quinlan Vos to Ahsoka Tano during his multiple appearances on The Clone Wars. He took a young Boba Fett under his wing for a while, and even possessed Boba Fett’s starship, Slave I, for a time.

Though he made an appearance in The Bad Batch, during the time period shortly after Revenge of the Sith, there was still left quite a lot of his timeline unaccounted for as we moved into the era of the Empire’s rule. His fate was uncertain until he showed up in live-action, in events set several years after Return of the Jedi, in The Book of Boba Fett, shooting down Cobb Vanth and having a good old-fashioned western shoot out with his former protege, Boba Fett, which ended with Bane’s death.

Cad Bane was voiced in both animation and live-action by voice legend Corey Burton, and was played on the Book of Boba Fett set by stunt performer Dorian Kingi. Ultimately, we didn’t spend much time with the character in live-action, but there are still plenty of untold stories about his past, so you never know…

The Grand Inquisitor

The Grand Inquisitor as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Obi-Wan Kenobi

Voiced by Harry Potter‘s Jason Isaacs on Star Wars Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor introduced many fans to the idea of the Inquisitorius, the shadowy organization tasked with hunting down the remaining Jedi who had escaped in the days after Order 66. The Grand Inquisitor, a pale Pau’an with sharp teeth, came after Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, but found that he’d rather die than take responsibility for his failures with Darth Vader, killing himself after losing in battle to Kanan.

In events set prior to his demise, we saw him show up in the live action Obi-Wan Kenobi series, played by Rupert Friend. On that show, he hunted down Jedi until he was betrayed by one of his own, the Third Sister, seemingly leading to his death — and briefly raising questions about the possibility of multiple, similar-looking Grand Inquisitors to account for this — until it was revealed to be a ruse, and he came back to continue leading the charge against the Jedi.

The Fifth Brother

The Fifth Brother as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Obi-Wan Kenobi

As the Inquisitorius made their way into the Star Wars canon in Star Wars Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor wasn’t the only one of the group who appeared, with the Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother also spending time hunting down Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, and Ezra Bridger. The Fifth Brother showed up in the second season of Rebels, based on an unused design concept for The Force Awakens. His species is currently unrevealed and little is known about him other than his ruthlessness and that he began his life on the planet Artemesium.

By the end of Rebels, the Fifth Brother had fallen in battle with Maul, but he too would get a chance to debut in live-action during the 2022 event series Obi-Wan Kenobi, thanks to that show being set earlier in the timeline. Originally voiced on Rebels by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Fast & Furious‘ Sung Kang took over the part for Obi-Wan Kenobi, as the Fifth Brother fought against fellow Inquisitor Reva Sevander, AKA the Third Sister, while they jockeyed for Darth Vader’s favor.

Zeb Orellios

Zeb as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in The Mandalorian

A member of the crew of the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels, Garazeb “Zeb” Orellios is a massive Lasat character (voiced by Steve Blum) and physically based on the early Ralph McQuarrie concept art of what would eventually become Chewbacca. Among the Ghost crew, Zeb was a tough guy and the muscle of the group, but had a soft heart. As a member of the Lasan High Honor Guard, he witnessed the genocide of his people and set his sights on making the Empire pay.

Thanks to his surprise live-action cameo in The Mandalorian’s third season, rendered in computer graphics and voiced again by Blum, we now know that after his time among the Rebellion, he went on to serve with the New Republic Defense Fleet. There’s no word on Zeb making an appearance in Ahsoka, but it certainly seems highly possible now that he’s been firmly established during this time period already.

Sabine Wren

Sabine Wren as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

Not the first Mandalorian to make the transition from animation to live action, Sabine Wren, voiced by Tiya Sircar, came from Star Wars Rebels. The graffiti artist joined Hera Syndulla’s Rebel cell at a young age and helped fight back against the Empire with the crew of the Ghost. She left for a time to fight for Mandalore and was the one who got the Darksaber back from Maul before giving it to Bo-Katan so that she could hopefully unite the Mandalorian people against the Empire – not realizing the ominous future in store for her people instead.

Sabine Wren is a central character in Ahsoka, with Natasha Liu Bordizzo picking up the baton — and lightsaber — from Tiya Sircar, as we learn that Sabine actually received some Jedi training as Ahsoka’s apprentice at one point. That dynamic ended on a sour note, but now the two are reunited and Sabine is set to resume her training.

Ezra Bridger 

Ezra Bridger as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

Young Ezra Bridger was orphaned by the Empire after his parents were picked up for rebellious activity. Living on the street, he got taken in by the crew of the Ghost when Kanan Jarrus sensed something about the boy’s abilities in the Force. Though he dabbled in the Dark Side under Maul’s sway, Ezra passed his tests and sacrificed himself to eliminate the threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn from the galaxy, with both lost somewhere in the vastness of space.

Voiced in Star Wars Rebels by Taylor Gray, Bridger is brought to life in Ahsoka by Eman Esfandi. So far, we’ve only seen Ezra via a hologram recording, but the search is on to find him, so we’re guessing that won’t be Esfandi’s only appearance…

Hera Syndulla

Hera Syndulla in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

Hera Syndulla — affectionately referred to by some fans as Space Mom — was a brave leader in the fight against the Empire. As captain of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels, Hera did her best to keep the crew united and focused, while also striking up a romantic relationship with her colleague, former Jedi, Kanan Jarrus. While Kanan would not survive the end of the war, the two of them had a son named Jacen.

Voiced by the incomparable Vanessa Marshall on Rebels as well as in her appearances in Star Wars: Forces of Destiny and during her youth on The Bad Batch, Hera has been an important figure in the post-Empire era of Star Wars. She’s made appearances in books and video games set beyond the classic trilogy and now, in live-action for the first time, in Ahsoka, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Her status as an accomplished Rebel (and now New Republic) General, as first referenced in Rogue One — where she was referred to but not seen — is reinforced in the series, as she once more works alongside Ahsoka to find Grand Admiral Thrawn.


Huyang in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in Ahsoka

Huyang is an interesting character in the Star Wars mythos. He made one appearance in Season 5 of The Clone Wars, voiced by popular Doctor Who star David Tennant, which earned the actor an Emmy Award. Huyang is a droid that served the Jedi for over a thousand generations, helping Jedi younglings assemble their lightsabers. In addition, he keeps schematics of all of these lightsabers in his memory banks.

According to Mike Chen’s book, Brotherhood, Huyang may have mysteriously arrived without explanation to the Jedi one day in a blue box (and yes, that is a nod to the mode of transportation in Tennant’s most famous role). It was to the great delight of fans of his too-brief appearance to have Tennant once more voice Huyang in a live-action setting on Ahsoka, where he is now Ahsoka Tano’s traveling companion.

Grand Admiral Thrawn

Grand Admiral Thrown in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

If there’s a villain who commands as much respect as the biggest heroes in Star Wars, it might be Grand Admiral Thrawn. There’s an asterisk to this entry, because unlike the others we’re mentioning, who all first debuted in animation, Thrawn has a longer history and popularity, going back decades. He was first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s 1991 Expanded Universe / Legends novel, Heir to the Empire, before making a crowd-pleasing arrival on Star Wars Rebels years later, which put him into canon stories for the first time. He proved to be a formidable threat to the Rebels, led by Hera Syndulla, as he hunted them down. Eventually, he trapped them on Lothal, but it was Ezra Bridger’s plan, foreseen through the Force, that foiled him.

Bridger surrendered himself to Thrawn before luring the purrgil — creatures capable of hyperspace travel — to take over Thrawn’s ship and send it off into the unknown regions of space, never to be heard from again… That is until the mention of his name in The Mandalorian and the promise that he will be the villain Ahsoka Tano is trying to foil in her own series. Thrawn is another rare case of an actor first cast for Star Wars animation reprising the role in live-action, as the other-worldly villain from the Chiss Ascendancy is played by Lars Mikkelsen in both cases.

Ryder Azadi

Ryder Azadi as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

Two surprises came from animation in the premiere episode of Ahsoka. On Star Wars Rebels, Ryder Azadi (voiced by Clancy Brown), was the former governor of Lothal, unjustly imprisoned by the Empire and replaced by the villainous Governor Pryce. Ryder found himself locked up with Ezra Bridger’s parents, Mira and Ephraim, eventually escaping during a prison break the Bridgers planned, even as the couple sadly lost their life in the process. Ryder would go on to fight alongside their son to free Lothal of the tyranny of the Empire.

Clancy Brown reprised the role of Ryder Azadi in Ahsoka, standing out as another of the special circumstances where the same actor who originated a Star Wars character in animation has also then played them in live-action. Things have apparently gone well for Azadi since the Empire fell, as he once again was governor of Lothal.

Jai Kell

Jai Kell as seen in Star Wars Rebels and in Ahsoka

The other surprising pull from Star Wars Rebels into live action in Ahsoka‘s premiere was the character of Jai Kell. Originally voiced by Dante Basco (Hook, Avatar: The Last Airbender), Jai was from Lothal and met Ezra Bridger in the Imperial cadet academy before the two escaped together. Interestingly, Jai seemed to be at least somewhat Force-sensitive.

Kell ended up helping in the fight to take back Lothal at the end of Rebels alongside Ryder’s resistance group and it looks like he also did well for himself in the aftermath of the war, given he is now representing the system in the New Republic as a Senator. In Ahsoka, he’s played by comedian Vinny Thomas.

Hondo Ohnaka

Hondo Ohnaka as seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Everyone’s favorite space pirate and swindler, Hondo Ohnaka, made his bones on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and arguably became even more popular through subsequent appearances on Star Wars Rebels. Voiced by voice acting legend Jim Cummings, he worked both with and against the Jedi, according to his whims, and likewise worked against the Empire when it meant profit for him. A standout character in animation, Hondo’s been seen in live-action for a few years now… but in a far different manner than anyone else on this list. Okay, it’s not on a streaming series or in a film, but you can actually see Hondo in person at the two Disney Parks Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed lands.

By the time period of the sequel trilogy, when the Disney Parks experience is primarily set, Hondo is running Ohnaka Transport Solutions, a far more legitimate enterprise than he used to be involved in, though he invites guests to be his crew to help steal Coaxium for the Resistance. You can see Hondo in all of his impressive animatronic glory in the queue for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction, as well as in videos later on during the actual ride. At special events for Galaxy’s Edge, he’s even made appearances as a costumed character, and in all cases, Cummings has continued to provide Hondo’s voice.

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