The latest Star Wars Disney+ series brought a ton of characters from the animated Rebels show into live-action for the first time—meaning, every one of them had a legacy to keep in mind.
Thankfully, actors Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo have both been very vocal about having done their research before tackling the characters of Ahsoka and Sabine. Even Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirmed she watched all of Hera’s previous appearances before becoming the fan-favorite Star Wars general.
Eman Esfandi Didn't Watch Star Wars: Rebels
While The Direct was in attendance at L.A. Comic-Con's Ahsoka panel moderated by Eric Goldman, Ezra Bridger actor Eman Esfandi revealed he purposefully avoided watching Star Wars: Rebels before filming his scenes.
Esfandi explained, "[He] didn't watch all of Rebels" because he "didn't want to get too caught up in the younger version of Ezra:"
"I admittedly - which, if you would have found this out prior you might have taken my head off, but maybe now you don't think that - I didn't watch all of 'Rebels'. I didn't want to get too caught up in the younger version of Ezra. I felt very connected to an older version the way he was written."
While the actor didn't see all of the series, he watched some, namely core episodes where "[Ezra] had scenes very intimately with like Sabine and the Spectre Crew" and ones with "Ahsoka in particular:"
"And I watched the episodes where [Ezra] had scenes very intimately with like Sabine and the Spectre crew and Ahsoka in particular. And just to understand that dynamic. Obviously, the hologram message, and also my TikTok became flooded with the scene--rest in peace Kanan. So I was inundated with a lot of it."
According to Esfandi, he was getting such good feedback during production that he felt comfortable fully catching up at a later point in time:
"But I didn't watch it until after the show. Because Dave [Filoni], and everyone else who was directing me were so like, reaffirming. Like, 'no, yeah, that's Ezra. Oh, that's also so Ezra. And we'd be backstage, that's Ezra. I was like, okay, so then I think we're good. Like, I'll watch it later. So I didn't actually do the immersion thing until all the way after shooting."
One notable example of someone who didn't watch any source material before stepping into an already-established character was Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unsurprisingly, audiences were not the biggest fan of the villain’s live-action adaptation.
Was Not Watching Rebels a Good Choice for Ezra?
It just never seems like a great idea to tell an actor to avoid the source material that created the very character they are tasked with bringing to life. Especially when it comes to Star Wars, these people have legacies—there’s a lot of pressure to get it all right.
One key reason it probably worked out so well here is that Dave Filoni was involved in every step of the way. When the original creator is helping make their characters a reality, they know exactly what to be looking and aiming for.
Both were told to avoid playing the games ahead of production. However, the original game director and writer was leading the charge for the live-action telling as well, leaving very little to chance when it comes to correctly portraying the iconic characters.
When none of the original creative talent is around to help lead the charge of a character’s debut in a new medium, the situation could end up like Rupert Friend’s Grand Inquisitor in Obi-Wan—a villain who doesn't feel like his original incarnation in the slightest.
While it still stinks to hear Eman Esfandi didn't watch all of Rebels ahead of filming, at the very least, he’s now seen the whole thing. So, any future appearances from the character will be influenced by all of Ezra’s previous stories—as it should be.
While no Season 2 of Ahsoka has yet been confirmed, fans can binge all of Season 1 on Disney+ right now.