Rosario Dawson details how she was cast as legendary “Star Wars” character Ahsoka Tano and the transformation she underwent to bring her to live action…
Rosario Dawson never imagined a random encounter with a fan on Twitter would eventually lead her to a dream role in the “Star Wars” universe.
Back in 2017, a fan asked Dawson on Twitter if she would ever be interested in portraying legendary Jedi Ahsoka Tano in a live-action role. Of course, Ahsoka Tano had become a beloved character first seen in the animated movie “Star Wars: Clone Wars” as well as the TV series of the same name and eventually “Star Wars: Rebels” as well.
— Rosario Dawson (@rosariodawson) February 7, 2017
While there have been fans asking to see Ahsoka Tano move from the animated world to live-action for years, Dawson never imagined her response would spark quite so much interest.
At the time, Dawson was followed by multiple “Star Wars” social media accounts but that was really the end of it until “The Mandalorian” came along. Dave Filoni, who created the character of Ahsoka Tano, saw the support for Dawson in the role and her name came up again when Jon Favreau began developing “The Mandalorian” for Disney+.
“When I spoke with Dave about it and they started talking about doing this show and he did the math of what year it was, he kind of revisited that idea of me for the character, and with my age versus where she would be, and said, ‘This is actually a feasible thing,'” Dawson revealed in a recent interview with StarWars.com
“But as it started going along, and it was always sort of sitting in the back of [Filoni’s] mind, Dave had always wanted to continue her story and give her a chance at live-action.”
There were no plans to introduce Ahsoka Tano during “The Mandalorian” season 1 but the opportunity to introduce her finally happened as the story broke for season 2. According to Dawson, the decision to cast her as Ahsoka Tano was also helped by a bit of coincidence after Filoni spotted her in a different role where she was starring alongside Hayden Christensen in a film called “Shattered Glass.”
Of course, “Star Wars” fans recognized Christensen as the man who portrayed Anakin Skywalker in the prequel films. Anakin Skywalker also happened to be the Jedi master, who took Ahsoka Tano on as an apprentice during “The Clone Wars” film and series. At that point, it almost felt like fate intervening to give Dawson the chance to portray Ahsoka Tano on screen.
“I have to say, for Dave, going online and looking up things — when he came across a photo of the two of us hugging each other, he lost it,” Dawson recounted. “He said, ‘How is this…? This was meant to be.’”
Becoming Ahsoka Tano was definitely a huge moment for Dawson, but she also understood the pressure that came along with playing that part.
During the entire history of Ahsoka Tano in the animated “Star Wars” universe, Ashley Eckstein had voiced the character and she was synonymous with that role. In fact, Eckstein’s voice can be heard amongst the Jedi’s speaking to Rey in the closing moments of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
“Ashley did such an incredible job and I know how the fans feel about her, and I know how she feels about this character and how much she’s given to it,” Dawson said. “And I know that it’s such a different feeling and space to bring this character that people have loved for so many years into live-action.
“I really, really, really wanted it to be something that people could enjoy and get into as another Ahsoka story.”
Before she actually stepped into the role, Dawson did plenty of research as she binge-watched every episode of “The Clone Wars” as well as “Rebels” in order to truly understand Ahsoka Tano, her history and her connection to the rest of the “Star Wars” universe.
“There was so much material to work from,” Dawson said. “I think that was definitely a huge benefit for me. I was marathoning the show from beginning to the end, putting in the movies. It was really fun to see how Ahsoka’s physicality changed, and her facial expressions changed, and her voice and her tenor changed as she just evolved.
“I wanted to kind of have some her playfulness and her fun — the cocky eyebrow thing that she does. You know that she’s got that feistiness. You know that she’s willing to push the rules a little bit in order to get what needs to get done. But I also really like that she does have that wisdom. She’s gone through a lot. She’s really gone through a lot of things. And she’s grounded, more than when you first meet her as a young teen. It was really fun to find moments to throw homages to the different aspects to Ahsoka that I’ve always loved.”
She also took her cues from Filoni, who obviously had a better understanding of the character than anybody else.
“She’s sort of been wandering. If you know Dave, then you know he’s got a lot of classic samurai references,” Dawson said. “He was talking about films like Yojimbo. She’s wandering the galaxy helping those in need. She always, for me, was a true Jedi, even if she technically wasn’t a Jedi anymore. She represented the best of what the Jedi Order could be.”
When it came time to put on the costume, Dawson admits she was jumping up and down with glee to see her transformation as Ahsoka Tano — complete with contacts to give her matching blue eyes.
“There was one point, actually, where Dave was curious whether I should wear the contacts or not,” Dawson revealed. “I had tried them on so I knew what a difference it made. Also, in talking about the fans, I was like, ‘You can’t do this to me. I can’t not have blue eyes. That will just not be okay.’ [Laughs] And it really made all the difference.
“Because, you know, you have the whole headpiece, and the costume, and the whole world because we’re there on this set — it’s incredible, with these huge screens, you feel all of it there. You’ve got lightsabers. But the contacts would go in and it just dropped you into this character. I wasn’t Rosario playing dress-up cosplay. I was Ahsoka.”
When she finally appeared in “The Mandalorian” season 2 during “Chapter 13: The Jedi,” Dawson embodied Ahsoka Tano in a way that had “Star Wars” fans cheering on her performance.
At the end of the episode, she also reconnected her story with the conclusion of “Rebels” as Ahsoka Tano continues to search for Grand Admiral Thrawn, which by extension means she’s also searching for her friend and fellow Jedi, Ezra Bridger.
As of now, there’s been no word on when or if Ahsoka Tano’s story will carry on in “The Mandalorian” or potentially a different “Star Wars” franchise film or television series but Dawson is certainly up for the chance to play her again.
“I mean, I would love that opportunity,” Dawson said. “I think it’s so cool that this show exists. I think it’s so cool that I got to show up and give information about this character, the Child, that everyone’s loved so much. You know, that she was not so much showing up as a cameo, but really being a storytelling device for new fans that have fallen in love with yet another new character that we’re getting to see grow. Little Grogu is just amazing.
“It’s interesting watching The Mandalorian, realizing you’re not seeing lightsabers, you’re not seeing a lot of what we love about Star Wars. It was really amazing to be able to have that gift of being able to bring that into this series and into this space, and I’m really grateful for that opportunity.”
“The Mandalorian” will return with a brand new episode on Friday on Disney+ with full recaps on NerdcoreMovement.com