Star Wars Rebels’ Sam Witwer and Tiya Sircar Ponder the Futures of Darth Maul and Sabine at SWCE [Interview]
This fall, Star Wars Rebels returns to the air after one of the most spectacular finales in Star Wars television history. There are a lot of questions hanging in the air about the fates of Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Sabine, Zeb and Chopper, as well as the forces of evil potentially driving them apart, like Darth Maul. We got a sneak peek of the upcoming season at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and it only intensified our desire to learn more about what's in store for our favorite characters.
We caught up with stars Sam Witwer (Darth Maul) and Tiya Sircar (Sabine) after checking out the premiere to talk about the futures of their respective characters, and what it's like having to keep so many secrets for so long.
ComicsAlliance: You've been Starkiller, a secret apprentice in The Force Unleashed, and Darth Maul, a secret apprentice at the time when he arrived. Always the bridesmaid never a bride.
Sam Witwer: (Laughs) Totally.
CA: What's that like, and are you eager to perhaps finally take the steps to become a Sith Knight or Lord as Maul?
SW: Darth Maul is, certainly. He's constantly striving for what he feels the universe owes him and what he thinks he can achieve. That man is extraordinarily talented. He's brilliantly intelligent. There's no reason he shouldn't have succeeded, but he hasn't. That doesn't sit well with him.
So, he's constantly striving, but at the same time you've got to ask, are his methods changing sufficiently to give him success? Where does he live between the scale of the Dark and Light? What does he think about all this stuff? That's the fun of it. We don't quite know yet. I mean, we know, me and Dave [Filoni], but the audience doesn't know. The character is more unpredictable now than he's ever been for me to play, which I just love.
CA: From the films, everyone knows the actors are shredding pages to maintain secrecy, but one thing I don't think people realize is just how closely guarded the even the stories of the animated series are.
Tiya Sircar: Oh yeah.
CA: How much of a challenge is that for you to have to internalize all these secrets forever?
TS: It's impossible. I've learned over time that the less I say, the better because I know I'm going to say something or give something away. You know, Dave Filoni is a bit of a magician. Nothing is by accident. He knows exactly how much we need to know and when. So if I don't know it now, I don't need to know it. I get to know things as I need to know them, and I trust that he knows exactly what he's doing.
It's definitely tricky being so far ahead of the audience, with regards to where we are and what you know, to try and balance that.
CA: Much has been made about your lifelong devotion to Star Wars, and your almost encyclopedic knowledge to rival Dave and Pablo Hidalgo. Do you find yourselves ever "um, actually"-ing one another on set?
SW: The first time I ever worked with Dave Filoni on set, the following happened. We were doing episodes for The Clone Wars that are now known as the "Mortis Trilogy," where Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan go to a planet that is like a dream world. It's kind of like the cave on Dagobah; is it really there, is it not, is it in their heads? Anakin encounters Shmi Skywalker, his dead mother. This death had devastated him, and now here she is standing in front of him. Matt Lanter [Anakin's voice actor] delivered this performance where he says, "Listen there's so much I want to tell you. I have a wife. I want you to meet her." It's a beautiful performance.
Then I raised my hand, you know, the new guy in the room, and said, "Uh, excuse me." And Dave's like, "What is it, Sam?" And I'm like, "That was really good, but we kind of have to do it again." And everyone is like, what, why? I said, "They already met. Shmi Skywalker and Padme already met. If Anakin is saying, 'I want you to meet my wife,' that's already happened. You've got to change the line."
Then all the heads turn to me, and I remember Ashley [Eckstein], who plays Ahsoka Tano, she looked at me and said, "I have never seen someone out-geek Dave." And I'm like, "I don't know what to tell you. I'm just doing my job." Dave had this shocked look on his face, like how could he have missed that. So they rewrote the line, and they did it, but I think in a weird way that endeared me to Dave Filoni, in that he's dealing with a nerd of a different kind.
CA: You've been with the Star Wars family for close to a decade now, and obviously this is a relationship you'd want to continue...
SW: Oh yeah.
CA: But you won't be able to be Darth Maul forever, so do you see yourself contributing in any other ways down the line?
SW: In any way that I can. They called up a whole bunch of us Clone Wars actors to fill out the voice work for The Force Awakens, and we were only happy to do that. The wonderful thing about Lucasfilm is that they are very loyal. If they like something that you've done for them, they will continue to try to bring you into things. It's wonderful if you're a fan of this stuff.
When I got hired for Force Unleashed, I never thought I would have worked on a Star Wars project. Here I am, and they're building a character with my likeness, and I couldn't believe that. But I think even then I wouldn't have been able to wrap my brain around the fact that I'd be playing a whole bunch of different characters down the road. I just couldn't have anticipated that. I have to thank Lucasfilm for that loyalty.
They could have auditioned people for Darth Maul, they could have done any number of things. Dave wanted to take a chance on me doing it, and that was a stressful thing when we were doing that. I remember we had a lot of talks months before we recorded it, and we talked about the story, and he said, "Listen, George wants this and this, and here's how it's got to be. More than anything, if we don't do this right, we're really screwing the fanbase." We had to do our best. It's a fun thing to continue to get these challenging little moments from Lucasfilm and fight our way through.
CA: Sabine is now part of a strong heritage of leading females in the Star Wars universe, but there's a tendency because there are few female leads to always match them up with another male character. You also have the fanbase shipping a lot of the characters. Do you think Sabine should just be herself, and allowed to exist without those pressures?
TS: Oh, you mean with Ezra? Yeah. Obviously at the beginning of season one, there was a little back and forth. It was a bit of a will they or won't they situation. I feel like as we get busier with the tasks at hand and there are higher stakes, especially after Ahsoka and Vader at the end of season two, I almost feel that we literally don't have time for that.
As Dave says, anything is possible, but he told me once --- and this is something I really like --- you always think that when there's a young male character and a young female character that obviously there has to be something between them. What if they are just really great friends, and why does something romantic have to happen?
So I kind of love that. Who knows if anything will happen? Something may, but Sabine is such a strong character and we haven't seen her be interested in anything like that thus far. She's got a job to do and she takes it very seriously, and I love that she's not interested in any of the superficial stuff. She's focused and she's a warrior.
Who has time for anything else when you're fighting the Empire? (Laughs)