Before being officially announced for the series, the Danish actor played quite coy about his Ahsoka role; however, with the Ghost Crew re-assembling, Lucasfilm came calling for its iconic Rebels villain.
The actor has not played Thrawn for more than six years, last being seen in the Rebels finale back in 2017, something one would think Mikkelsen would revisit in anticipation of his live-action debut.
Thrawn Actor Did Not Revisit Rebels
According to Thrawn actor Lars Mikkelsen, he purposefully avoided rewatching Star Wars Rebels in preparation for the upcoming Ahsoka series.
In an appearance on Entertainment Weekly's Degobah Dispatch, Mikkelsen was asked if he ever went back to Rebels to "familiarize [himself] with how [he] voiced him and played him before."
The Thrawn star noted, "No, [he] didn't." He actually actively "detach[ed]" himself from any past performance:
DD: “Did you ever go back and watch old 'Rebels' episodes just to familiarize yourself with how you voiced him and played him before?”
Mikkelsen: “No, I didn’t really. We needed to do something else, so I wanted to detach myself from that to create something new.”
On the subject of playing the character again, Mikkelsen told On Demand Entertainment at Star Wars Celebration that it was important he "adapt" his Star Wars villain for the new medium, as "[there are] certain things that you can do with the cartoon that you can’t do in live-action:"
“Well, you need to adapt to, I mean, it being live action. So there’s certain things that you can do with the cartoon that you can’t do in live-action you need to bring down or bring to another level. But in terms of the embodiment of the character itself, I felt like I had practice, you know, for five or six years. Because even when we’re voicing it in a box, we’re still sort of doing it, still making the moves in that box, and doing that thing. I mean… I felt I had practiced.”
He added that after seeing an animated character embodying his performance for so many years, it was a bit of a shock seeing himself as the character finally in live-action:
ODE: “Was it a shock to look at yourself in the mirror though? That first day of the makeup and go…”
Mikkelsen: “It was. Oh yeah. I mean, they’re so phenomenally good, the people that are working at that… And it takes the better part of three hours to do that transition. But yeah, that was weird, man. (laughs)”
Why No Star Wars Rebels Research Is Good for Mikkelsen
Some will look at these comments from Lars Mikkelsen and scoff. Going back to rewatch past Rebels episodes as a form of research feels like a necessity for taking the character on again after years away.
However, this lack of a rewatch could be a good thing.
By the time Ahsoka kicks off, so much time will have passed since the ending of Star Wars Rebels. Because of this, Thrawn could be an entirely different character when he debuts in live-action.
As Mikkelsen said, that is not to say they will completely change his Star Wars villain, but it is important they "adapt" the character so that it is not just more of the same.
This sort of detached approach is something that has become common practice as these stars of Star Wars animation come to live-action.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's Grand Inquisitor actor Rupert Friend also said he did not watch Rebels to prepare for the character's live-action debut. Friend said that he " almost deliberately did not see the animated interpretation," so he could "do something fresh" without the character "without doing a kind of impression of anybody."
While the Grand Inquisitor case is a little different with Friend not having played the character in animation, the same sentiment can be plastered upon what Mikkelsen is saying about his character.
He wants to do something new with Thrawn, and if he feels rewatching Rebels could have jeopardized that, then it is probably the right decision.
Ahsoka is set to hit Disney+ this August.