The first full length interview with a voice actor from Star Wars Rebels has come out today, and it is with voice actress Vanessa Marshall who is playing Hera Syndulla. Newsarama conducted the interview with her, and she goes on to talk about how excited she is to be playing Hera, her role with the group of rebels in the series, and how she is the first Twi’lek to have a staring role in Star Wars outside of the EU. You can check out a portion of the interview below:
Newsarama: Vanessa, let’s jump right in – tell me what makes playing Hera Syndulla exciting to you!
Vanessa Marshall: First of all, let me just say, it is an honor to be a part of the Star Wars universe. But I also really admire her leadership qualities – her integrity and her passion for the Rebel cause. It motivates me to stand up for my own convictions in my daily life!
She truly walks the walk. She puts her life on the line, and comes through for her crew consistently. She’s sort of the getaway driver, if you will. What I love is that her bravery is just quietly noble.
Oh, and one more thing – I love that she’s a pilot! My dad is actually a pilot, and I enjoy flying with him in his open cockpit biplane. He does aerobatics and I just pretend like we’re on the Millennium Falcon. (laughs) So this is – I don’t have my pilot’s license, so this is an opportunity for me to unleash my inner pilot. It’s a ton of fun.
Newsarama: It was interesting to see in her intro video that she’s described as the commander of the Ghost. I found that interesting, since Kanan was presented as the leader of this team; is Hera going to be sharing those duties?
Vanessa Marshall: Well, like I said, she’s the getaway driver. She owns the Ghost, it’s her machine, so in that sense, she runs the ship. Kanan is the leader, 100%, and he has to be, but as far as the nuts and bolts, keeping the characters emotionally grounded and connected and on point, Hera is a leader in that capacity. But yeah, Kanan, as a leader, as a Jedi, he’s the man!
Newsarama: Something you brought up as well, that she is a Twi’lek. They’re in and out of the Star Wars universe a bit, but Hera is the first Twi’lek to take a true starring role outside of the expanded universe of comics and novels. Is the fact that there’s not as much known about that race something that will come up, or is her alien nature not much of a focus, is she just another alien that’s a part of the crew?
Vanessa Marshall: Well, perhaps it’s an opportunity to, I dunno, come clean on a few things – I’ve had friends ask me “why does she have legs coming out of her head?” I say, “Um, those are Lekku – brain tails – they’re advanced organs for communication and cognitive functions – those are not legs.”
Then they’ll ask me, “wait, are you the one who dances for Jabba?”
Look. While many Twi’leks have been enslaved, Hera is not a dancer. She is an ace pilot, a supreme fighter, perhaps approaching the Twi’lek Jedi Master Aayla Secura, who fought in the first battle of Geonosis, as we know. Obviously, Hera’s not a Jedi, but you see that Twi’leks have the capacity to fight, and fight very well. So she’s in that category.
So yes, it may shed more light on the diversity of the Twi’lek community. But I don’t think there’s a focus on her alien nature so much, not only because all the characters are equally antagonized by the Empire regardless of their race, but also because the Ghost crew really creates a cohesive family – one that truly transcends any and all racial distinctions. I think race becomes irrelevant. So while it will elucidate some things, it will also equalize others, and unite us all in the fight against the Empire!
You can tell Vanessa Marshall is really excited about playing Hera, and about Star Wars Rebels in general. And she definitely knows her Star Wars history!
Be sure to check out the full interview over at Newsarama.