Thrawn's Live-Action Visuals Caused Difficulties for Disney+ Ahsoka Show

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Ahsoka Thrawn Hera

Ahsoka's introduction of the iconic animated Star Wars villain Grand Admiral Thrawn caused some challenges for Lucasfilm's production team.

Star Wars Celebration gave fans some long-awaited updates on Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka series, including a thrilling confirmation for Grand Admiral Thrawn's live-action debut on Disney+.

Additionally, after being played by Lars Mikkelsen in the animated Star Wars Rebels, the actor was finally announced to reprise his role as one of the main antagonists for Dawson's solo series.

But even after fans got the first glimpse of the back of Thrawn's head in Ahsoka's first full trailer, his classically blue skin still remains hidden, leaving many to wonder about the challenges of bringing that character to the small screen.

Thrawn's Visual Challenges for Ahsoka Series

Grand Admiral Thrawn
Star Wars

Speaking with The Wrap, Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni discussed the challenges of bringing Grand Admiral Thrawn into live-action, specifically touching on the villain's blue skin.

Calling blue "a tricky one" to bring to the screen, Filoni also looked back to other blue characters from Star Wars history as reference, most recently Cad Bane from The Book of Boba Fett:

"Blue is a tricky one. And there are a lot of blue characters out there now. Cad Bane was a much-debated blue."

The challenge was just as great for Hera Syndulla's green skin and Ahsoka's own orange hue, leading Filoni to ask why he took on such a difficult task:

"We went round and round on the blue! And the green [for Hera]. And the orange [for Ahsoka]! Why did I do all these things? I could’ve made my life so much simpler!”

Filoni was tasked with making sure that Thrawn's blue wasn't strong enough that it began "to lean too far back into animation," forcing him to look for a hue that was deeper and more complex regarding its fit on a live-action character:

"If the blue is very strong, it almost starts to lean too far back into animation. So you have to find a blue that is complex, that has multiple layers to it, that has transparencies and a sense of blood and skin."

On top of the blue skin, Filoni heaped praise upon Lars Mikkelsen for his performance in the role, highlighting the voice that he used for Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels:

"The way he stands, the way he carries himself — he’s an admiral! And then, of course, there’s the voice. I knew in Rebels when I heard him, ‘This is the guy.'"

The Star Wars executive saw great success in the way all of the Ahsoka stars pulled off their characters' skin colors, especially considering how much time they all have to spend in make-up to get that look just right:

"[Lars] pulls off the blue, Mary [Elizabeth Winstead] pulls off the green and they’re troopers. When you make a decision to do a show like this and characters like this, [they’re] in the make-up chair 2-3 hours every day. That means they get there so much earlier than everybody else so they can make call time. It’s a commitment and it makes their life much more difficult and not a word of complaint. They’re all very into it and doing it and living it and I’m very grateful for that."

How Thrawn Will Be Adapted In Live-Action

Grand Admiral Thrawn's eventual appearance in live-action has been a hot topic of discussion amongst fans since the MandoVerse first started, especially considering his popularity in Star Wars Rebels.

Now, particularly with Lars Mikkelson retaking the mantle in live-action, Dave Filoni and the crew were vigilant in ensuring his blue antagonist was put on screen as accurately as possible.

Fans already saw the effects of this vigilance with colors thanks to the first look at Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Hera Syndulla, which looked like a virtual copy of how the character looked in animation.

And looking at how much hype has surrounded Thrawn's inclusion in Ahsoka, it only seems right that Filoni and Lucasfilm are putting so much energy into this major debut.

Ahsoka will debut on Disney+ this August.

- In This Article: Ahsoka
Release Date
August 22, 2023
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Natasha Liu Bordizzo
- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.