What's it like to voice five different characters in the same scene? For Dee Bradley Baker, who voices the five characters in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, he likens the process of switching between the voicing of the different characters to "jumping from rock to rock on a stream."
"I can see the rock. The writing is clear. And that's what I jump to, is that character."
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a 3D-animated series that takes place after Star Wars: The Clone Wars, serving as a spiritual successor and spin-off series. The first episode just dropped on Disney+ today; read our review here.
It focuses on Clone Force 99, a group of five clone commandos with genetic mutations that give them enhanced abilities, as they struggle to find their place in a new galactic regime. Colloquially known as "The Bad Batch", they were introduced in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Dee Bradley Baker reprises his role(s) as the Clones from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While the Clone Troopers were relatively similar in voicing in that series, the clones of Clone Force 99 are quite different in terms of their speech patterns and temperaments.
"Clone Force 99 is another step beyond what I've been asked to do in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The tricky part is the differentiation is much tighter between characters, although it has to be decisive and clear. The Bad Batch are much further apart from each other," said Baker.
"It's a fascinating process as a voice actor, to have these scenes where I'm just talking to myself, switching from character to character as we go through the script," he said. "It's fantastic fun."
In fact, Baker's voiceover process and work impressed executive producer and head writer Jennifer Corbett, who did not expect him to voice all five characters at the same time in scenes.
"When we first started, I thought we would go one character at a time. And just watching him act out a scene with himself, with all of these clones - but there's no pause! He just goes into it," said Corbett about her amazement at Baker's performance.
The five characters are Hunter, the leader of the pack who has tracking skills and heightened senses; Tech, who as the name implies has great technological prowess and inventive abilities; Wrecker, the muscle of team with incredible strength; Crosshair, the sharpshooter member of the group who behaves in a more contrary manner; and Echo, an android clone who joined the batch.
Corbett previously wrote for Star Wars: Resistance. Her military background helped her to understand the relationships between the characters.
"I got the dynamic between this squad. I understand how people in the military become like brothers and sisters when you're sent on missions together, when you're in close quarters and the camaraderie and banter that comes with living with people so closely, in high stress situations," she shared.
What excited her most about the show, besides the fact that it shone the spotlight on this oddball group of characters, was the time period.
"We've seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars where it's the height of of the Clone Troopers doing what they were meant to do and what they were created for. The question became what happens when the war is over, what happens to all of these clones, when all they know is being soldiers? Especially for the Bad Batch who do things differently as it is with the Republic, and how they fit in once it becomes the Empire." said Corbett.
"It's not what we saw in the Original Trilogy, where it's the dominance of the Empire. [This] is in its early stages, and I found it interesting to show planets and places that were happy that the war is over, and they don't really understand the implications of what an empire actually means," she said.
Given what we know about what the Empire will actually become, this will definitely increase the dramatic irony of seeing all the different Star Wars inhabitants rejoicing in the war's end in Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch premieres 4 May on Disney+.
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