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Cast and crew of ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ discuss transition from Republic to Empire and found families in new series

by Brittani Tuttle

Hot off the heels of last year’s series finale for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” the new spin-off animated series “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” follows a group of elite and experimental clones as they navigate an ever-changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War.

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(L-R): Crosshair, Echo, Wrecker, Hunter and Tech in a scene from “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” exclusively on Disney+.
Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

Producer Brad Rau; head writer and producer Jennifer Corbett; and Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of The Bad Batch, recently got together over Zoom to discuss the new show that picks up where the final season of “Clone Wars” left off.

The Bad Batch is comprised of five clones, each with their own unique strength — Crosshair, Echo, Wrecker, Hunter, and Tech — and are all voiced by Baker, who does have a favorite of the group.

“It’s fun to be Wrecker, because he’s so honest and so clear and funny,” said Baker. “I have a great affection for all of them. They’re all very interesting fellows, but Wrecker, he’s probably the furthest away from me from all of them. He’s great fun.”

Producers Rau and Corbett collaborated with Dave Filoni on “The Bad Batch,” showrunner of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and executive producer of “The Mandalorian,” and both agreed it was a great and educational experience.

“I got to work with Dave on ‘Star Wars Resistance,’ which was such a great experience. Getting the chance to develop [‘The Bad Batch’] with him, you know, it’s kind of like a master class in writing Star Wars,” said Corbett. “With this being a sequel series of sorts to ‘Clone Wars,’ it was kind of crucial that he be involved in this process very much. Because these are characters that he’s created and it’s the world that he knows […] It’s so exciting to see this show grow and develop with this team, and he’s been fantastic to learn from.”

“Dave — he’s awesome. I’ve known Dave for a long time. When he was starting ‘Clone Wars,’ I first met him up at the ranch — Skywalker Ranch — and I happened to just be starting my own animation studio at the time. So I was unable to join the force of the Clone Wars,” said Rau. “It was one of my regrets that I rectified later on in ‘Rebels,’ to join as an episodic director, and then on ‘Resistance’ […] I couldn’t think of a better mentor. Especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day is fantastic. Just collaborating with him and being able to work with [Jennifer Corbett] so closely on this show’s been awesome. It’s been a dream come true.”

“The Bad Batch” begins in the days of Order 66, offering a unique perspective on an event that fans know — or think they know. This concept was a major pull for the creative team working on the show, to be able to explore the specificities of the time period.

This time period is one of the reasons I got so excited about this show, other than this oddball group of characters.

I just found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where you know, we’ve seen the Clone Wars where it’s the height of the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do, and what they were created for. And the question became, ‘What happens after the war is over? What happens to clones who all they know is being soldiers?’ Especially for the Bad Batch, who do things differently as it is with the Republic and how they fit in once it becomes the Empire.

Because obviously, two very different regimes, and how they react to this new environment and the new way of doing things and new way of following rules. Which, again, isn’t their favorite thing to do. But it was interesting to just sort of talk about the transition from the Republic to the Empire and what that looks like, because it’s not what we saw in the original trilogy, where it’s the dominance of the Empire.

It’s kind of like the early stages, and I found it kind of interesting to show planets and places that were happy that the war is over, and they don’t really understand the implications of what an Empire actually means. It’s kind of just laying the groundwork for what everyone knows the Empire to be later on.

Jennifer Corbett, head writer and producer, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch”

This pivotal transformation moment in Star Wars history is not lost on Baker, who has to portray each of the members of the Bad Batch and their unique reactions to it.

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Admiral Tarkin in a scene from “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” exclusively on Disney+.
Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

“In the transition — the sudden, shocking transition from Republic to Empire […] it becomes a suddenly much more rule-based power structure of the galaxy […] and the Bad Batch are not so much a rule-based unit,” said Baker. “They’re very much a team, but they’re not like the Clones are, where it’s more of a top-down command structure. It’s very interesting to place them in the middle of this transformational moment and to see how that plays out.”

It’s not all just fighting and rebelling in “Star Wars: The Bad Batch.” A new family-style dynamic begins to take shape in the very first episode with a new character named Omega and Hunter.

“It’s a fascinating relationship that unfolds, because at first, of course, the team is […] their own sealed unit, and they’re certainly not used to having anybody else along or working with anybody else,” said Baker. “It’s interesting, in terms of the story and the writing, to have this kind of personal relationship with the younger character and to see how that changes and how they accommodate that […] because it’s more of like an uncle/niece, or a father/child dynamic, but not entirely. Because Omega [has] her own interesting potential of powers. Maybe. So it’s interesting to see all of that unfold. I think it connects you to the story in a personal way.”

This sentiment is felt across the board and was important to the creative team in order to give the characters more depth and room to grow.

“It is really interesting to deal with this family dynamic. To have the stories be emotionally charged and emotionally based gives the action a lot more texture, honestly,” said Rau. “Cause I mean, let’s face it, we’re blowing stuff up and we’re having fun doing that, but to have the emotional context of that is the challenge, I think, in any of these stories. For us, I think, it helps that we are coming into characters that are familiar, and yet, we don’t know that much about. It gives us room to kind of play around with how those characters develop.”

Baker is no stranger to portraying multiple clones at once, though in the case of “The Bad Batch,” he found it a bit easier to go from one character to the next during recording sessions, thanks to their distinct voices and personalities.

The tricky part for [voicing the Clones] is that the differentiation is much tighter between characters. Although, it has to be decisive. It has to be clear. The Bad Batch are actually much further apart from each other, which oddly makes it a little bit easier to jump from character to character.

For me, it feels like I’m jumping from rock to rock on a stream. I can see the rock, the writing is clear, and that’s what I jump to. I can see them, I feel like I know them, and it actually helps that they’re further differentiated vocally, and also in terms of their personality and their mood.

It comes off looking more as a magic trick than it does maybe with the Clones, but it’s still a really fascinating process as a voice actor to just have these scenes where I’m just talking to myself. Just switching from character to character as we go through the script, which is typically how we do it.

Dee Bradley Baker, voice of The Bad Batch

“It’s impressive to watch him do it in the room, because when we first started, I thought he was gonna go a character at a time Just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these clones — there’s no pause. He just goes right into it,” said Corbett. “I was blown away. Each time we do one of these record sessions, I’m just amazed at Dee’s talent.”

Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” premieres on May 4, 2021 exclusively on Disney+. You can check out the trailer for the series below:

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