Dee Bradley Baker, Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau Talk ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’

Spinning out of the final season of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the new Disney+ show Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which premieres on National Star Wars Day, May 4th. The series features voice actor Dee Bradley Baker (SpongeBob SquarePants) as all the members of Clone Force 99, a group of elite clone troopers with genetic alterations, which includes members Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and Echo. Other popular Star Wars characters that return for the series include Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) from The Mandalorian, Saw Gerrera (voiced by Andrew Kishino) from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced by Stephen Stanton) from Star Wars: A New Hope

The series begins in the final moments of Order 99, which does not affect the genetically mutated members of Clone Force 99 in the same way it affects the other clone troopers. Unsure of what is happening, the Bad Batch begin to question their orders as they discover a young girl named Omega and come face to face with the evil Grand Moff Tarkin. In addition, the series will also feature the return of popular Clone Wars character Captain Rex, who is also voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. 

We Live Entertainment recently had the opportunity to attend a virtual press conference for Star Wars: The Bad Batch that featured voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, producer Brad Rau, and writer/producer Jennifer Corbett. The event began with Baker discussing the different members of Clone Force 99, all of which he portrays on the show. “Well, on the team you’ve got Hunter, who’s kind of the leader of the pack,” he explained. “He’s got tracking skills, a sense of smell, and this heightened sense that helps him gauge the terrain. Then you’ve got Tech, who is very technically oriented. He always has a handheld device that he’s working on and is super cool, super calm, and competent with all things technical.”

“Then you got Wrecker, who to no surprise is the muscles of the group,” Baker continued. “He’s got incredible strength. Then you’ve got Crosshair. Crosshair is the sharpshooter of the group. He is kind of a contrary character and quite interesting in the dynamic. Then you’ve also got Echo, who is a modified clone. He’s an android clone from The Clone Wars episodes, who was brought on board with the Bad Batch. That’s the gang and together they are a force to be reckoned with.”

Star Wars: The Bad Batch was created by Dave Filoni, the mastermind behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and The Mandalorian. Both producers Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau have worked with Filoni in the past and talked about their collaboration together on the new series. “Yeah, I got to work with Dave on Star Wars Resistance, which was such a great experience,” Corbett explained. “Getting the chance to develop the series with him, you know, it’s kind of like a master class in writing Star Wars. With this being a sequel series of sorts to The Clone Wars, it was kind of crucial that he be involved in this process because these are characters that he created and it’s the world that he knows. But every day, every script is a learning experience and it’s so exciting to see this show grow and develop with this team. It’s been fantastic to learn from him.”

“Dave’s awesome,” added Rau. “I’ve known Dave for a long time. When he was starting Clone Wars, I first met him up at the ranch, Skywalker Ranch, and I happened to just be starting my own animation studio at that time. So, I was unable to join the force of The Clone Wars. It was one of my regrets that I rectified later on in Rebels, to join as an episodic director, and then on Resistance. He’s an awesome guy and a good friend. I couldn’t think of a better mentor, especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day is fantastic and amazing. So, just collaborating with him and being able to work with Jen so closely on this show has been awesome. It’s been a dream come true.”

Corbett, who in addition to a producer is also a writer on the show, discussed the overall plot of the series and when it takes place within the Star Wars timeline. “To start off with, this time period is one of the reasons I got so excited about this show, other than this oddball group of characters,” she said. “But I just found it intriguing and engaging to watch a series where we’ve seen The Clone Wars and the height of the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do and what they were created for. The question became, what happens after the war is over?  What happens to clones who 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. It was interesting to just sort of talk about the transition from the Republic to the Empire and what that looks like because it’s not what we saw in the original trilogy, where it’s the dominance of the Empire. It’s kind of like the early stages and I found it interesting to show planets and places where they were happy that the war is over, and they don’t really understand the implications of what an Empire actually means. It’s kind of just laying the groundwork for what everyone knows the Empire to be later on.”

The series introduces a new character to the Star Wars universe, a young girl named Omega, who joins the members of Clone Force 99 on their adventures. Baker discussed how the new character affects the dynamics of the team, as well as Hunter’s fatherly relationship with her. “Well, it’s a fascinating relationship that unfolds,” he explained. “Because at first, the team is kind of their own sealed unit. They’re certainly not used to having anybody else along or working with anybody else. Although they did bring along Echo and brought Echo on board after he kind of proved himself to them, then they came together on that. But, it’s interesting, in terms of the story and the writing, to have this kind of personal relationship with the younger character. To see how that changes, how they accommodate that, and how that works.  Because it’s more of like an uncle/niece, or father/child dynamic, but not entirely.  Omega has her own interesting potential powers, maybe, so it will be interesting to see all of that unfold.  But I think it connects you to the story in a personal way.  So, it’s not just an action story, as Star Wars never is. There’s a personal story that’s also playing out as well, that connects you to the entire story.”

Rau also talked about Omega’s overall role in the series and how her presence will affect the other characters. “To have these ‘best of the best’ soldiers suddenly as ‘fish out of water’ in this changing galaxy, and to have this kid that they do help raise in a very parental way, is so great,” he said. “We have this awesome team of elite clones and everything we’ve been talking about in this changing galaxy, and this time period that as a fan I’m just so excited to see because we haven’t seen that much about the rise of the Empire. It’s a two-way street, honestly, the way that works because none of them are really equipped to go out into this new world. All the things we get into are really interesting.”

Finally, Corbett, who served in the United States Navy, discussed how her military training prepared her for writing episodes of The Bad Batch. “When I first saw the original story arc for The Bad Batch that was meant for The Clone Wars final season, I immediately responded to it because I got the dynamic between this squad,” she said. “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, there is a kind of camaraderie and also a banter that comes with living with people so closely in high-stress situations. I think that’s what I try to bring to it is how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are also a family. They don’t have to agree all the time, and because of all the different perspectives that each of them brings, they’re all so very different. I think that speaks to the military. No one comes from the same background, and everybody has their different reasons for doing what they’re doing.”

Written by
A graduate of Emerson College, Jami Philbrick has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, and most recently was a Senior Staff Reporter and Video Producer for Mtime, China's largest entertainment website. Before that, Philbrick was the Managing Editor of Relativity Media's iamROGUE.com for 4 years and has written for a variety of magazines and online publications including Wizard Magazine, Nerdist.com, and Collider.com. Philbrick has also been a contributor on Fox News, News 12 Westchester, AMC Movie Talk, and the PBS movie review series, Just Seen It. Philbrick was the 2019 recipient of the International Media Award at the 56th annual ICG Publicists Awards, and has interviewed such impressive talent as Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Willis, Mark Hamill, Spike Lee, Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Stan Lee, and Kermit the Frog.

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