In the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, Dave Filoni, and George Lucas introduced a key, but previously unknown figure in Anakin Skywalker's life, his padawan Ahsoka Tano.
While their character's on-screen relationship is a favorite amongst fans, Dave Filoni reportedly had fears about the fan base's reception.
Dave Filoni's Ahsoka and Anakin Romance Concerns
At Emerald City Comic Con, Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice actors Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter revealed Dave Filoni's concerns over fan perception of Anakin and Ahsoka's relationship.
When asked about her own favorite relationship in Star Wars, Eckstein recalled how Filoni "hammered in my head" that, romantically speaking, "there's nothing there" between Anakin and Ahsoka:
“So Matt [Lanter] and I are laughing, because I was cast as Ahsoka before Matt was cast as Anakin. There was another Anakin that had started out and unfortunately was recast, but fortunately, Matt joined the cast. So we had already been recording for about six months and Dave [Filoni] had hammered in my head, ‘Well the fans are gonna want something to be between Anakin and Ahsoka, but there’s nothing there. It’s like [a] brother and sister relationship.’ So apparently, the first day I met Matt, and I’ll let Matt finish it.”
Lanter continued to tell the tale, recounting how Eckstein informed him that Anakin and Ahsoka are "like brother and sister" upon being introduced:
“Well, I walk in, like, ‘Hi, how you doing? How you doing?’ Ashley [says], ‘Hey, how’s it going? … By the way, Anakin and Ahsoka are completely platonic, okay? There’s nothing going on. They’re like brother and sister, alright?’ I’m like, ‘Okay, nice to meet you too. Got it.’ That was my introduction to Ashley.”
In keeping with the platonic theme, James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, responded to the initial favorite Star Wars relationship question, saying, "Jedi Master Plo Koon and Ahsoka Tano:"
“I like Jedi Master Plo Koon and Ahsoka Tano… I’d love someday for them to do an animated story of that. And I’d love Ashley and I to get to play those parts.”
Plo Koon is known to be one of Dave Filoni's favorite Star Wars characters and is the Jedi who canonically found Ahsoka.
Taylor voiced the Jedi Master in The Clone Wars animated series.
The Reasons For Filoni's Fears
Fifteen years after Ahsoka's introduction and months away from her live-action solo series debut, it's fascinating to learn of Filoni's fears of fan shipping.
But given the circumstances then, it was probably warranted.
Anakin was Obi-Wan's padawan when he first became romantically involved with Padme.
When Star Wars introduced another integral padawan, some fans would naturally expect a similar route for her own character.
Filoni may have also had concerns about backlash. After all, Star Wars released The Clone Wars animated movie a mere three years after the Revenge of the Sith and the tragic end of Anakin and Padme's relationship.
No doubt some fans would've been upset about this particular narrative so soon.
If so, it would be interesting to learn if Ahsoka was presented as younger and even somewhat immature upon her debut for this purpose.
Regardless, Eckstein and Lanter's recollections reveal a great deal about Dave Filoni, specifically in terms of his understanding of audiences and his care for how Star Wars characters are presented.
That's kind of care is good news for Star Wars fans anticipating the release of Ahsoka on Disney+ later this year.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is available to stream on Disney+.