Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
The Voices Behind Zeb Orrelios and Ezra Bridger
Actors: Steve Blum and Taylor Gray
Star Wars Rebels Unveils Episode 2 Tonight on Disney XD, 9pm ET/8pm Central
If you haven’t gone on the bandwagon with the the new Disney serious of Star Wars Rebels that airs every Monday, then please check it out tonight 8pm Central/9pm Eastern! It is a pleasure you cannot deny your family.
The characters of the new Disney animation are so well developed and exceptionally well-voiced by the talented crew of the actors:
- Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus
- Steve Blum as the voice for Zeb Orrelios
- Taylor Gray voices Ezra Bridger
- Vanessa Marshal stands for Hera Syndulla
- Tiya Sircar voices Sabine Wren
I had a privilege to sit down with Steve Blum and Taylor Gray to talk about their experience of making the Star Wars Rebels and acting on behalf of their characters: Zeb Orrelios and Ezra Bridger. These two amazing actors are not only gifted with their voices, they are good-hearted individuals full of ideas and support for other people.
Here are some of my most memorable excerpts of our conversation.
Question: What drew you guys to the film?
Taylor Gray I think it’s so cool, um, like what, my favorite part about it is all the action. I think that that’s so fun. I think kids are gonna enjoy, um, all the characters and, and their multiple layers and how they run around firing off blasters and taking down troopers. I think it’s all a lot of fun. It’s action along with a lot of, ah, nice dialogue.
Steve Blum I was drawn when I was a kid when I first saw it. I was seventeen. I was fresh out of high school, and I went to the premiere in 1977, and I was one of those kids in the theatre whose head snapped back when the imperial star destroyer comes across the screen and the whole theatre rumbled.
So, I get to relive this on a cellular level. It, it activates all of those memories from that time and, and, ah, when I was graduating high school, I was one of those apathetic youth and I didn’t go to my own graduation.
Question: Were you a Star Wars fan prior to this?
Steve Blum Um, yeah. I hadn’t seen all the Star Wars movies. I had seen, I had seen 4, 5 and 6. It’s a nice joke with us, because we have some people in our cast, Vanessa and Freddy and then Dave as well who know more about Star Wars than anything I’ve ever met. They know things that I think aren’t even in Star Wars that are [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. And Steve and I, ah, Steven knows more than I do as well, but it’s been fun because, um, it’s cool to be a fan. I, I’ve now caught up and understood why everyone loves it so much.
I remember being in school when I was little, and every other kid had either a Star Wars shirt on or a lunch pail or a back pack. And it all makes sense why it’s so appealing, but it’s, it’s really cool. The best part of it is talking to fans of Star Wars and hearing their sentiments and why it’s so special to them, because everyone has their own connection to, ah, the Star Wars story. So it’s been really cool, um, coming up through all of it.
Question: We heard from some of the crew that you’re (Steve Blum) the funny one. Have you pulled any pranks on the cast?
Steve Blum Not really. I think, what I just demonstrated there… [LAUGHING]. At the end of every effort, some, some of these guys…
Taylor Gray And an effort sounded something ridiculous. It’s like when we jump from building to building, or push a crate through planes.
Steve Blum Yeah. I mean, he’s not used to doing that because he’s an on-camera guy and he can do that with his face or his body, but in, in voice over, we have to do everything on the mic, and so we’ll have what we call sound sets and in the sound sets, they’ll say okay, now we need you to, ah, take a punch or take six punches, three soft, three medium, three hard. And you’ll just hear us go [GRUNTING SOUND EFFECTS], and it can sound really filthy or, you know [LAUGHING] you go a lot of different directions. But basically after every sound that he makes… Do a sound. I grew up doing anime, so in anime it’s a requirement to make every disgusting sound known to man.
Taylor Gray Every time, though`. Like you think you’ve heard it twice and it’s gonna come again, ah, but it’s always, it’s always so funny, but the king of doing all those sounds is Steve. We, there’s a thing that we do called the sound library.
When the actors were summoned up for voice auditioning, they were told that it would be a series about WOLVES! Here’s a set of questions about “wolves” and how it was related to Star Wars at the end.
Question: When you came in to read for the Wolf role, was anyone keen on what it could have been?
Taylor Gray Jungle Book? I thought it was like a, like a, like a discovery, like animal… I had no idea.
Steve Blum Yeah, I do so many military games and, and military type characters that I just figured it was some military guy and some fighting show. I didn’t know what it was. I do a lot of superheroes also, so I really didn’t know until I think I was in the studio just about to record, and I saw storm troopers in the copy and I went, oh, this is something different. This is Star Wars. This is, this is Star Wars! [LAUGHING.] Yeah, so it was that moment of realization.
A lot of shows that we auditioned for are coded, they’re very heavily coded. They want to protect that and we sign non-disclosure agreements once we do know, so I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I had to keep all that inside, and thank God I can finally talk about it.
Character Flashout To Spike Your Interest And Imagination
Every team needs a tough guy, and ZEB ORRELIOS fills that role as the clever muscle of the Ghost crew.
Zeb is a well-trained honor guard and is highly educated, according to executive producer Dave Filoni, which juxtaposes his brutish, alien appearance. He’s voiced by Steve Blum, who says, “He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder, hates Chopper and is starting to build a relationship with Ezra, begrudgingly.”
His favorite pastime is beating up Stormtroopers or “bucket heads” as he calls them. He’s an agile fighter who uses his hands, feet and acrobatics. But there is more to Zeb than pounding Imperials. “It’s just going to be exciting to develop him and his bizarre new species,” says Filoni, “and to explain to the audience where he came from.”
Zeb is from a never-before-seen alien species in the Star Wars universe, but his look is heavily influenced by Ralph McQuarrie’s early concept art of what Chewbacca may have looked like.
Executive producer Dave Filoni adds that Ezra is not a bad kid. Although he may enjoy stealing from the Empire, his behavior has been influenced by the world around him – a world that is under Imperial control.
But his hard life has also made his world smaller. “He doesn’t really trust anyone,” says Rayne Roberts, creative executive of Star Wars Rebels. “That’s kind of his motto in life. He has that hard edge at times.” When audiences first meet Ezra, he is not yet a Rebel and is not yet interested in restoring freedom to the galaxy – but that will soon change when Ezra is introduced to his new surrogate family: the crew of the Ghost.
Greg Weisman, executive producer, says, “His eyes get opened to the fact that there are people who care, who are trying to fight the good fight. And he becomes one of them.” Still, there is more to Ezra than even he knows.
Ezra is Force-sensitive, Filoni reveals, though he is unaware that he is tapping into this mystical energy field. Ezra knows he has some strange abilities, but they’re “instinctive and reactionary.” It is only through his relationship with Kanan, a Jedi Survivor and crew member of the Ghost, that Ezra will learn the true nature of his power. Together, they will forge new paths and destinies – and a rebellion will rise.
See my interviews and personal experiences with Star Wars Rebels during my Disney Trip.