Ashley Eckstein Talks To Us about STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS and I AM A PADAWAN

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Ashley Eckstein is the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and she has a new book out called I Am a Padawan. The book is all about Ahsoka growing as a Padawan and a Togruta. I was able to talk with Eckstein about the book and her experience with voicing Ahsoka.

Meet Ahsoka Tano, a brave Jedi-in-training–also known as a Padawan–in this Star Wars Little Golden Book written by Ashley Eckstein!

This Little Golden Book follows the journey of Ahsoka Tano, a brave Padawan from the epic Star Wars space saga, as she learns the mysterious ways of the Force from her Jedi teachers Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

You can purchase your copy from Penguin Random House or your favorite book outlet for $4.99.

Tommy: How are you doing today Ashley? I know things are kind of crazy all over the world. How are you holding up?

Ashley: You know what? We are healthy and just hunkered down here and very fortunate to be with family. And all family is healthy, so all is good. All’s good. How about you and your family?

Tommy: We’re, hanging in there, you know. Just hunkering down. The little one gets a little stir crazy, but overall we stay sane.

Ashley: Yeah. Well that’s a good thing.

Tommy: Okay, so you have a new book out called I Am a Padawan. It’s a Star Wars book all about Ahsoka Tano, correct?

Ashley: Yes.

Tommy: And it’s all about her learning from the great Jedi Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and I assume a few other characters are in there as well. What was it like to write a book about the character that you voice in the Clone Wars about Aksoka?

Ashley: It was an incredible experience to write a book for Ahsoka. At first it was intimidating. I’m not gonna lie. I said yes to the project immediately because Lucasfilm called me, and they asked me if I would write a Little Golden Book for Ahsoka. And I think it was the fastest thing I’ve ever said yes to in my life because I grew up reading the Little Golden Books. I learned to read because of the Little Golden Books. So they hold a special place in my heart and it was literally like bucket list level to be able to write a Little Golden Book. But once I said yes, then panic set in, and I was like, “Oh, geez, can I do this? You know, I’m not sure I can do this.”

But thankfully I just locked myself in my room one day, and I binge watched Clone Wars. And I watched all of my favorite episodes and moments and lessons that Ahsoka learns, and it actually just naturally–the writing process just flowed from there. I was able to write it in an afternoon, and I had so much fun writing this story because I didn’t realize how many of Ahsoka’s moments and lessons really made an impact on me. And I actually had too many moments. I had to scale it back. So it was a fun process.

Tommy: Okay. Well it sounds like you were the perfect choice for the job. I know in a lot of books, especially children’s books and the Golden Books there’s typically some kind of message or moral that, you know, it’s trying to teach children reading it. What kind of message do you do hope or think I Am a Padawan is conveying to young readers?

Ashley: Well, the I Am series for Star Wars and Little Golden Books is all about, you know, teaching kids how to be, you know, characters throughout the film saga. So there’s, I Am a Princess for Princess Leia. There’s, I Am a Pilot for Luke. There’s I’m a Droid, you know, for C3PO and R2-D2. And so I Am a Padawan, featuring Ahsoka, is all about how to be a padawan, which is really just a student. So even though these lessons happen in a galaxy far, far away, they’re very relatable to any student because Ahsoka throughout The Clone Wars, she learns lessons of bravery and failure and friendship and knowledge and hope. And then eventually, she walks away from the Jedi Order, and she learns the lesson of choosing your own path. And it was actually really fun for me to pick out all of those lessons and my favorite moments. So there’s not just one lesson throughout the book. It’s a bunch of different lessons that I would think any teacher would hope that a student takes away from the classroom.

Tommy: Okay. now you, you’ve mentioned you went back, and you binge watched a bunch of Clone Wars, and you watched your favorite moments. Could you, just give me your top three Ahsoka moments?

Ashley: Oh, top three Ahsoka moments. I would say–are we talking about just in Clone Wars or even including Rebels?

Tommy: We’ll include Rebels for this.

Ashley: Okay. I would say the Mortis trilogy in Clone Wars. we see Ahsoka go through a lot in that arc. We see her go to the dark side. We see older Ahsoka, but in that arc specifically, a lot of people don’t realize Ahsoka actually died. And the Daughter gives up her life for Ahsoka. The Daughter represents the light side of the Force. And in my opinion, Ahsoka represents all things the light side of the Force. I mean, she’s so positive and always wants to do the right thing. That’s a pivotal moment for Ahsoka.

And then the second moment would be Ahsoka walking away from the Jedi Order at the end of season five of Clone Wars. By Ahsoka walking away, not only does she really kind of transform her character but she hopefully saves herself from Order 66. That moment means a lot, not only to the story-line but also for Ahsoka. How much she even grows. And in that episode specifically and that arc specifically.

And then the third moment I would say is the confrontation with Vader in Star Wars Rebels. You know, the scene where she fights Vader, and she says the famous line, “I am no Jedi.” That is kind of a full circle moment where she, I think, fully realizes at that moment that Anakin Skywalker really is Darth Vader. And that is just such a pivotal moment for her.

Tommy: Those are all fantastic moments. I love that moment in Rebels. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen Rebels yet, but I have seen that clip and it’s phenomenal.

Ashley: I’m laughing. I apologize if I ruined anything.

Tommy: You haven’t. You haven’t ruined anything. The internet ruins everything. So you talk a lot about Ahsoka’s great positive traits and how you really hope that that these lessons can be imparted to young readers. And I imagine also adults and anyone else interested. What are some things–you’ve voiced Ahsoka for several years now. What, what is something that Ahsoka has taught you personally?

Ashley: Ahsoka’s personally taught me, going back to the season five finale of Clone Wars, the fortune cookie at the beginning says, “Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.” And Ahsoka just represents hope to me. It’s funny; growing up, Star Wars always represented hope to me. Whenever I needed a bit of hope, I always turned to Star Wars. And now Ahsoka represents hope to me. And even in the darkest of times, there’s always hope. There’s always light and you know, just like Ahsoka you know, gives Rey the advice in Rise of Skywalker when they say to “Let the light guide you…” and Ahsoka says “…as it guided us” Ahsoka, always let the light guide her and always chooses hope. So Ahsoka’s definitely taught me that.

And then in this new season of Clone Wars my favorite line of the whole season is one that Ahsoka says to Rafa. Rafa asks Ahsoka, “Ahsoka, why are you helping us?” And Ahsoka says, “In my life, when you find people who need your help, you help them no matter what. I guess it’s just who I am.” And that, just in a nutshell, is Ahsoka. She helps people no matter what. And you know what? I ask myself all the time, literally on a daily basis, what would Ahsoka do? And I feel like Ahsoka would choose hope. She would choose the light, and she would help people no matter what night. I try to always let that guide me.

Tommy: Well, that is a very good lesson to learn from her. You kind of brought it up. You brought up the fact that you got to actually bring Ahsoka to the Star Wars films with The Rise of Skywalker. What was that like? What was it like when you got the call? “Hey, we want you to come do Ahsoka for The Rise of Skywalker?

Ashley: Oh my gosh! It was absolutely incredible to get to voice Ahsoka for The Rise of Skywalker–the whole process from getting the opportunity to record the lines with JJ Abrams. He directed me in that voice session, and I got to be there with him and Matthew Wood. And I recorded the lines in October of 2019, but I still didn’t believe that they would make it in the film. I didn’t believe it until I was literally sitting at the world premier in LA of episode nine, and I heard it for myself. Then I could actually celebrate. I was so scared it would get cut. It’s like I didn’t believe it until it happened, but it was truly a surreal experience. In fact, when I walked into the record session, JJ Abrams walked up and introduced himself, and he thanked me for being in the film. And even that in itself is surreal. I’m like, “Oh my gosh!” And I was almost speechless, and I said to him, “No. Thank you for allowing me to be in the film.” So there’s a really, really special–it’s truly one of the highlights of my career. It really is a special opportunity.

Tommy: Well, it was a fantastic moment in the movie. I think it really shocked fans in a good way. So I’m gonna take a guess that if you were to have a lightsaber, you would go ahead and you would be like Ahsoka and wield two. Am I correct?

Ashley: Oh, yes. Yes, I would definitely, wield two lightsabers.

Tommy: What colors would your lightsabers be?

Ashley: You know, I’ve been asked this a couple times and after really thinking about it, I think that my lightsabers would be white. I really love what they represent. I love that they represent that Ahsoka is neutral. And I feel like that is what I stand for in real life as well. I try to listen to everyone. I try to just do what is right and what is fair and what is truthful, and I feel like that’s what Ahsoka would do. And that’s why, ultimately, she has white lightsabers.

Tommy: So, Clone Wars. I’m really excited it’s back! This season, they just started the Siege of Mandalore storyline, which so far, really incredible. I’m loving it! I imagine you were just blown away with the excitement when you found out that the show was coming back and you were gonna get to reprise Ahsoka. How did things differ when you ended season seven than when you wrapped up season six?

Ashley: Well, there was a big difference actually in how both wrapped up because the first time around the show was canceled, so we never had that proper goodbye. We never had that moment where we knew that it was the last episode. My last time in the studio for Ahsoka in Clone Wars, the first time around, I didn’t know it was my last time in studio. So we all felt that it was just kind of ripped from us, and we didn’t have the chance to properly say goodbye or properly wrap up the series. And it was very sad. I mean, we ended up having a series wrap party and at those types of wrap parties, usually there’s happy tears, but it was not happy. It was definitely met with a bunch of sad tears.

So fast forward to Clone Wars coming back for a final season. We all looked at it as such a gift, such an incredible opportunity. You don’t always get second chances in life. And so the fact that we got a second chance to properly the close out Clone Wars and give it the series finale it deserved. We were not going to waste the opportunity. Everyone involved brought their A-game. They brought their best, and the last cast record was definitely met with tears and laughter and goodbye, and we signed each other’s scripts. It was really a special day.

Tommy: Well, I’m certainly glad that you guys were able to kind of go back and finish the story, give it more of a final conclusion. Finally, I have one more question for you. I understand that you love to travel with your husband. What’s your favorite place out of all the places you’ve been?

Ashley: Ooh, I’m not gonna lie. We’re beach people. We love the ocean. We love, love the beach. We’re from Florida, so we like anything sunny. And my happy place is just crystal clear, blue water. Any place that has just very, very blue water. So it’s always been my dream to go to Bora Bora. And a couple years ago we got to go to Bora Bora, and it was truly magical. It’s one of probably the only places I’ve ever been to where photos do not do it justice. It’s way more magical in person than even the photos depict. And I didn’t even think that was possible because the photos are so magical. So yeah, hopefully one day I’ll get to go back to Bora Bora.

Tommy: Well, thank you so much. I hope you get to go back to Bora Bora someday as well.

Ashley: Where is actually your favorite place you’ve traveled because I would love the advice?

Tommy: That is a bit of a loaded question. I haven’t left the country too much, and I have such special memories of the places that I have gone. My top two are Japan and Chile.

Ashley: Well, I hope to one day go to Chile, but I share your love of Japan. It’s one of my favorite places to go. I agree.

Tommy: Yeah. If you get a chance to go to Chile, it’s got some great beaches for ya. I think if I remember right, Pichilemu is one of the big beaches down there, and it’s supposed to be really nice. But yeah. Thank you so much for your time.

Ashley: Awesome. Well, thank you for your advice. I definitely hope to check it out, and thank you for your time.

Tommy: Stay sane.

Ashley: Thank you. Thank you. You as well. I look forward to the day when we can all get together again. You know, Star Wars celebration or a Comic-Con. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Tommy: I am too. Have a wonderful day, Ashley.

Ashley: Awesome. Thank you. You too. Take care.

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