My enthusiasm for the Disney purchase of LucasFilm is still high! Part of my excitement is so much of the Star Wars universe is already part of the Disney experience. R2-D2 and CP30 are already part of the parks with Star Tours The Adventure Continues and its predecessor putting Star Wars environments into the reach of parks’ guests. And of course the merchandise is easily available, I take pride in my Darth Vader Star Tours 2011 re-opening tumbler. I like to take it to meetings to show my allegiance to the Dark Side. But in many ways the most visible presence today for the Star Wars universe, the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars television program has distinguished voice cast with voices that most Disney fans will likely be familiar with:
- Agent Rex: Voice actor Dee Bradley Baker is brilliant. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars he literally plays an army, voicing every clone. Baker is able to not only voice them but in his performance provide clones with different personalities through his portrayals. Along with the clones, he also provides a number of other voices and at times sound effects. Often at the end of a cartoon, and not only this one, you will find Baker listed as additional voices, as he provides sounds that help the crew create the soundscape they are looking for. He is a vocal genius! For Disney, Baker’s most prominent role is Perry/Agent P on Phineas and Ferb, yes I said voice for a platypus that doesn’t do much. His other credits are literally too long to list but include Turner the Screwdriver on Handy Manny, Boba Fett in Star Tours The Adventure Continues, Boo Boo Chicken on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and so many many more. Dee Bradley Baker is one of the few celebrities I have had an encounter with. Baker was part of a Phineas and Ferb signing that the Between Family participated in at the 2011 D23 Expo. As I slid my journal in front of Baker to sign I said, “Thank you Captain Rex!” Baker smiled, looked at me and in his clone voice said, “You are welcome sir.” That one small sentence pretty much sealed my fandom for Agent P and the Clones.
- Rumbly Tummy: Just like Baker, actor Jim Cummings’ credits are impossible to list in their entirety here. Cummings’ most prominent role in Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the pirate Hondo. Hondo dreams of profit, and has shown the ability to betray allies and even threaten children to get his delicious profit. Cummings’ most popular Disney role is serving as the current voice of Winnie the Pooh on television and movies such as 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. I think that Pooh is really a much safer character in his craving for honey! Other roles of Cummings include voicing Tigger, Pete on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the hyena Ed in The Lion King, and pretty much a voice in any direct to video Disney animated movie or Disney television production you can think of since 1985. Good guy, cuddly bear, bad guy, really bad buy, Cummings is everywhere!
- Hook: Cartoons are really popular in the Between House. There are three shows that are in heavy play from the Disney Channel in our house. They are Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Captain Hook is voiced by another master voice actor Corey Burton. Burton provides numerous voices in Star Wars: The Clone Wars including the head of the Separatists Count Dooku, bounty hunter Cad Bane and gangster Ziro the Hut amongst many others. In a running theme of Star Wars voice actors crossing over to Mickey’s world, Burton also voices Ludwig Von Drake on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Amongst Burtons other credits you will find the video game Epic Mickey, Mole in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and numerous voices in Hercules. Along with movies and television, Burton has been able to match the voice of Disney legend Paul Frees. Burton provides narration matching Frees as the Ghost Host for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday and some of the Pirates that Frees originally voiced in Pirates of the Caribbean. Burton is both a prolific Disney and Star Wars performer.
- River Guide: The moments that have lead to the most excitement in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars for fans have often been the introduction of original trilogy characters. The Clone Wars debut of the future Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, the future commander of the original Death Star, as Captain Tarkin was a key moment and has led to many questions such as does Tarkin know that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader? I lean towards yes! Fans have loved the portrayal of Tarkin, voiced by Stephen Stanton, an actor who honestly has been very good to fans. He has appeared several times on The ForceCast reading children’s stories as another one of his characters the criminal Moralo Eval (quick side note: only let the kids listen if you want them to have nightmares). Stanton like Burton is a voice who is already in Disney parks. He voices the Riverboat Captain onboard the Mark Twain at Disneyland and Stinky Pete in Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure and Disney Hollywood Studios. For those who attended the 2011 D23 Expo, Stanton narrated the opening film for the Carousel of Projects.
- Happy: If any moment was more anticipated than the introduction of Chewbacca or Tarkin, it was the introduction of Boba Fett’s people the Mandalorians. Many fans were shocked to be told that the Mandalorians were pacifists! But a splinter terrorist organization called Death Watch hopes to bring the Mandalorians back to their warrior past in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Death Watch is lead by Pre Vizsala voiced by Jon Favreau. Favreau is best known to Disney fans for his directing talents in the Marvel offerings Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and a producing credit on The Avengers. He also portrays Tony Stark’s chauffeur Happy Hogan in the first two Iron Man films and the forthcoming Iron Man 3, which he will not direct. Why won’t he direct? Because he is busy working on the first major movie to use a Disney Park as both a background and plot device, Magic Kingdom.
- Winter is Coming: Since the first time that I saw Star Wars: Episode One A New Hope, I was left with an open question. Obi-Wan Kenobi informed Luke Skywalker that his father fought in the Clone Wars. What were the Clone Wars and what was Anakin Skywalker’s role during that conflict. For decades this was an unanswered question until the release of the prequel trilogy. Star Wars: The Clone Wars builds on these prequel answers and Anakin is often at the center of this story. Actor Matt Lanter voices Anakin Skywalker, and being a young man he does not have the credits, yet, of a Baker or Burton. But he has been added steadily to his voice credits and Disney related productions have been one avenue for the building of his resume. In Ultimate Spider-Man he voices young men full of angst, Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn, and villains Venom and Klaw. But the role that caught my attention, and I’m not sure how Star Wars fans will fell about it, is Sled in the Tinker Bell movie Secret of the Wings. Yes the same actor that portrays one of the greatest Jedi generals of all time, a future Lord of the Sith, also voices a tiny winged fairy who aids Tinker Bell! I guess it is probably not really a stretch since both are mystical characters.
Star Wars had a huge impact on my childhood and Star Wars: The Clone Wars is becoming a part of the Between Kids’ memories. Before Disney announced the addition of LucasFilm, this animated cartoon was already a Mousey Movie, I mean television show. The cast is very familiar with Disney projects both in films and in the parks. And I continue to believe Star Wars is a great addition to the Disney catalog, because honestly Disney is very familiar with the franchise already!