Here’s another interview we did at Comic-Con about The Clone Wars. This time, we spoke with Dee Bradley Baker. For those unfamiliar, Dee is the voice of every single Clone on the show, as well as Bossk and all kinds of other monsters and anywhere else they can use him.
Dee is also a great fan of the show and offered us some tantalizing tidbits about future arcs. (Who knows how fast we’ll see them, though.)
Here’s our interview with him from The Clone Wars Season 4 premiere event:
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit he dropped in that video was that Walter Murch (THX-1138, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather) was directing an episode of the Umbara arc. It’s been long known he was directing an episode, but knowing that he’s directing an episode full of war and challenging Clone trooper action and emotion is incredibly thrilling to the film buff in me.
Then, we have the interview of Dee that we did at Comic-Con where he elaborates on the Umbara arc quite a bit. The more I hear about it, the more it seems like this story is going to be the benchmark Season 4 will be held up to. (And special thanks to JawaJames from Club Jade (GONK) for helping me with the transcription of this interview.)
Big Shiny Robot! So, what can’t you tell us?
Dee Bradley Baker: A lot of it is the same stuff we keep saying. It’s more cinematic than previous seasons. It’s more substantial, it’s more of everything that I personally really like about the series. There’s a four episode arc that has got mostly clones and it’s very intense. It’s stunningly good.
BSR!: That’s what Joel [Aron] said. There’s a lot more on this season.
DBB: Yeah. I like it – you got clones, you got action, you got stuff happening. That’s what I like.
BSR!: Do you know what they’re showing at the panel?
DBB: Today, they’re going to show you snippets – chunks of scenes that are coming up in the new season. A bit from the underwater sequence, that is from the opening arc. There are more two and three episode arcs that fit beautifully together into movies, like the Nightsisters trio from last year. I loved that particularly, and I got to see that shown as a movie, back to back. To me, you increasingly see the show becoming – like these three little pieces lock together perfectly into movies. Maybe that’s leading to something, I don’t know. It seems to be, to me, going that way. It’s becoming more like, “I’m watching a movie.” It’s not a cartoon, it’s not like anything else on television. It’s a Star Wars movie, is what I’m watching. So there’s an underwater sequence, an ice planet sequence that looks quite beautiful, and I can’t remember what the other sequences are.
BSR!: I was wondering if there was anything specific about it where you could talk about your involvement. One thing I’m curious about, and a lot of people know, is that you’re the voice of the clones, but you do so much more than that on the show. You did Bossk, what else have you done on the show?
DBB: Bossk, Queen Karina…
BSR!: Those were good episodes.
DBB: God, I loved those episodes. The Geonosian episodes were really cool.
BSR!: Is there anything from season four that you’ve voiced that’s not a clone that you can talk to us about?
DBB: It’s hard for me to remember. The thing is, that I’ve recorded the stuff like a year ago, and I haven’t seen it, except for the four part story arc that I just saw.
BSR!: And you guys have been recording in the past month or two, right?
DBB: We pretty much record something, maybe once, maybe twice a month. It’s spaced out but it’s constantly going. I wanted to get up to the Ranch to see some of these things before I came down here. I’m not on a The Clone Wars panel per se, but I knew there would be some interviews and things. I want to have some idea of what’s coming down the pipe. Because normally as voice actors, we don’t get to see anything until it airs, if then. I usually don’t even have time to watch it if it airs. Clone Wars, though, that’s one of my shows I absolutely watch, because my eleven-year-old absolutely demands it too, so we both watch it together.
BSR!: I do Clone Wars with my nine-year-old.
DBB: There’s some really awesome stuff. As the story continues to evolve, as we get closer to episode III, the question of what happens to Ahsoka and what happens to Rex – that’s what I want to see.
BSR!: Here’s a hypothetical story question for you: You’re the voice of the clones, so you have to think about all this stuff. Do you think they know the details of Order 66 before they’re given it. Do you think they know?
DBB: I, myself, don’t think so. I don’t think Dave has indicated so, but Dave could say more for sure. I don’t think that they know. That’s my guess. But I would say that the tension between the clones and their Jedi masters starts to become apparent in this new season. It’s a shocking moment when the order is called, and all of a sudden it’s like “Clones are killing Jedi? What the? Where did that come from?” But you will begin to see, from what I’ve seen.. okay. They’re starting to say: “Look at this war. Look at this whole setup, look at where we are, look at where this is going.”
BSR!: So maybe they’ve got a sense of it?
DBB: From what I can see, that begins to become… they’re smart fellas. They’re smart, they think on their feet, they’re flexible. They’re not just robots, they’re humans. That’s also a big part of the four part Umbara arc that I just saw. They couldn’t not be thinking this. “Where’s this all headed?” [laughs] I wish I could give you more details.
BSR!: And that’s why I say it would be great if we could do this kind of stuff after screenings. I struggle with “What could I say that he can possibly answer?” Especially since you haven’t necessarily seen everything.
DBB: Oh, I haven’t. Whole episodes, whole arcs.
BSR!: Is that frustrating, working in the dark on something this cool?
DBB: It goes with the territory with most animation. With a few shows like the SpongeBob show, which we record as an ensemble, I feel like I’ve seen a version of it because we all performed it together. Sometimes we have episodes like that here too.
BSR!: There’s some episodes, some of the better episodes, where you’re performing everything by yourself.
DBB: Right, and I feel like I see it as I perform it. I really had to see this particular arc, the Umbara arc, because it really bothered me. I’ve never been bothered by anything that I’ve done in voice acting, by a script or by what’s going on. But what was going on in this particular story arc bothered me. It got to me. In a sense that what these clones were going through, and what they had to endure, and what was going on from their standpoint – it was pretty horrible, and pretty difficult, and I didn’t like going back into that.
BSR!: So, not bothered you as in, “Oh, I didn’t like the script”?
DBB: No, it was awesome, it was fantastic.
BSR!: It bothered you personally, as a performer getting into those characters and that it was taking you to a really dark place.
DBB: Having to bring that kind of stuff up, I don’t usually have to do that. In the stuff I usually do, if it’s intense or dark or difficult, it’s usually just for one character maybe. Here, it’s an entire squad of these guys that are going through this and they have discussions amongst themselves and difficulties about “How are we going to do this? Are we going to do it this way? No, we’re not going to. We can’t do that way, we HAVE to do it this way. No, we can’t do that, it’s against our code, we can’t do that. No, we gotta do it. This is our orders, and we got to do it.” It’s that kind of stuff where I’ve got to bring up the reality of all sides of this argument and then put everyone into the fire, so to speak.
BSR!: Sounds like a lot of fun?
DBB: It’s awesome fun. It’s an awesome challenge and it’s awesome fun. But I personally found it a little aggravating just because of what it brings up in me and that’s unusual. I guess I’m just saying that what these guys go through is uniquely difficult in this particular arc.
BSR!: I can’t wait to see it.
DBB: I wish you could see it. I hope that when you see it, you see it in pristine condition, on a big screen, digitally projected, all four back to back.
BSR!: I wish I could see that too. I saw the season three premiere at the Presidio.
DBB: I’m so proud of that.
BSR!: Those were very good episodes.
DBB: That was awesome.
BSR!: I’m hoping to get an invitation to see the season four premiere, too.
DBB: I do too, and I’ll try to be up there. Actually, I think the premiere is going to be at the Long Beach Aquarium, as I understand it, because it’s the underwater arc. I don’t necessarily know everything, but that’s what they were telling me. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
BSR!: I haven’t been disappointed in the show at all. There’s been a few episodes that lulled a little bit. Overall, the show is still some of the best stuff on TV, period.
DBB: It is. It’s unfortunate, or maybe it’s telling, that the show is really not recognized in a big way by the awards shows. They really pass it over, and I think there’s a lot of political reasons for that. But I think that’s unfortunate, because, like you said, this show is unlike anything else out there, in live action or animation. And not that there aren’t other good shows, but it’s a really unique, remarkable show. And it’s going to get even better.
BSR!: I can’t wait.
DBB: Me too. [laughs]
The new season starts Friday, September 16 on Cartoon Network. You can read my review of the premiere here.
Check back later for an interview with Dave Filoni about Season 4!