12 things you need to know about Ahsoka: the fan fave’s standalone show

A long time ago, in a fanboy culture far, far away, Ahsoka Tano was once criticized as an irritating Mary Sue character—getting on the nerves of bad boy Anakin Skywalker and plenty of pissy viewers, too. In the years since then, however, she’s ascended to become a frequent pick for best Star Wars character ever, and the evolution is complete with the release of her very first, eight-episode series on Disney+.

Ahsoka stars Rosario Dawson as everyone’s favourite Togruta warrior, still fighting the good fight after appearances in The Book of Boba Fett and the animated series in which she got her start. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming show, from the lengthy makeup and fight-training processes Dawson had to endure, to which baddies you’re gonna be booing.

1. As of just a few days ago, the Ahsoka character is now 15 years old

She debuted in Dave Filoni’s animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars back in 2008—and initially, fans weren’t super taken by her bratty-little-sister dynamic with then-mentor Anakin Skywalker. Voiced by Ashley Eckstein, she was an outspoken and stubborn fighter, who gradually wormed her way into the hearts of Star Wars super-nerds by being perhaps the series’ most badass female character. Ahsoka was originally named ‘Ashla’, which George Lucas then changed to ‘Ashoka’ in honour of an ancient Indian emperor. Screenwriter Henry Gilroy suggested moving that ’s’ and ‘h’ around, and here we are, a decade-and-a-half later.

2. The series takes place about 5 years after Return of the Jedi

It can be tricky to keep your sequels, prequels, spin-offs and series straight in the Star Wars universe, and this Ahsoka-centric show ain’t making the mess any easier. It takes place in the same timeframe as The Mandalorian, whilst also being a continuation of the series Star Wars Rebels. The basic plot synopsis from Disney+ tells us that our hero will “investigate an emerging threat to the galaxy following the fall of the Empire”, which we saw way back in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. So in short, we’re post-Luke Skywalker, and still a few decades pre-Rey and The Force Awakens. Whew.

3. Once a padawan under Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka has an apprentice of her own

Ahsoka once learnt from the future Darth Vader as his Padawan/apprentice, before rejecting the Jedi Order after being framed for murder and disillusioned. It was Anakin who gave her the nickname ‘Snips’, for her snippy, sarcastic remarks. Somehow, Hayden Christensen has been cast in Ahsoka, despite Anakin being dead in the series’ current timeline, so expect some kind of poignant Force-ghost situation.

Keeping the sassy mentor-mentee vibes going, though, Natasha Liu Bordizzo plays the Mandalorian warrior Sabine, who was once Ahsoka’s own Padawan—but the pair now have a more fractious relationship that will hopefully blossom into proper friendship by the show’s first season finale. “You never made things easy for me, Master”, Sabine complains in the trailer above.

4. The voice of Rebels’ villain Thrawn returns for the live-action show

With his blue skin, red eyes, and a mug that (IMO) strongly resembles Elon Musk, Grand Admiral Thrawn was just the kind of Star Wars baddie you love to hate in Star Wars Rebels. Lars Mikkelsen voiced the cruel Galactic Empire officer in that series, and is now back, in the flesh, to bounce back from his hyperspace exile and make life very difficult for the heroic Ahsoka. Not a Jedi or Force user, Thrawn is nevertheless a worthy, ruthless adversary, animated or in live-action.

5. Baylan Skroll and Shin Hati are giving Ahsoka only more trouble

Played by Punisher star Ray Stevenson and Ukrainian actress Ivanna Sakhno respectively, these two nasty characters were left to dwell in the Unknown Regions, until Thrawn and former Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) assigned them to take down Ahsoka. Baylan is a Jedi turned into a power-hungry mercenary, and Shin is the dark Force user who clashes with Sabine in the season one trailer above. We’ll always be in awe of Sakhno’s evil assassin role in comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me: she totally stole the show as a psychotic killer gymnast.

6. Bordizzo and Mary Elizabeth Winstead play fellow resistance warriors

This newest entry to the Star Wars canon brings its female characters to the fore, with Togruta, Mandalorian, and Twi’lek heroes joining forces to take down Thrawn, Morgan Elsbeth, and their daunting goons. Winstead, who has played plenty of butt-kicking heroines before in movies like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Kate, is pilot Hera Syndulla, a green-hued widow who was introduced in Rebels.

7. Your Doctor Who fave David Tennant voices droid Huyang

Introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, former Doctor David Tennant’s droid Huyang was in fact utilised by the Jedi for thousands of years before his first appearance. He kind of looks like a chill C-3PO in a metallic bucket hat, and has helped countless Force-sensitive younglings put together their lightsabers. Tennant is back in the recording booth to give Huyang a voice, after appearing in a few arcs in animated stories.

8. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni make a great creative team

A frequent Disney and Marvel fave, Jon Favreau has an executive producer role in Ahsoka, after creating The Mandalorian and being instrumental to The Book of Boba Fett. But for many Star Wars heads, Dave Filoni is the true Jedi master piloting the whole franchise to enduring greatness: he oversees all animated properties set in the galaxy far, far away, and develops and writes this brand new series. You could even consider him to be one of Ahsoka’s dads: the character was co-created by Filoni and George Lucas himself.

9. Dawson had to learn ambidextrous combat for the role

Geek bible Wookiepedia notes that Ahsoka as a character is naturally right-handed, but has wielded her lightsaber in as many dangs hand as she needs, when a duel calls for it. This made fight training very complex for Rosario Dawson, who had to work with wushu master and stuntwoman Ming Qiu on ambidextrous lightsaber combat. Qiu is well-versed in choreographing action scenes with this iconic sci-fi weapon, having coordinated similar work in The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Dawson claimed that “there was definitely a moment a few months into the training where I just felt it land in my body in a way…some of the stuff started feeling more familiar and seamless. That’s when I really felt like I locked into Ahsoka.”

10. Dawson’s makeup process takes about two hours every day

The most immediately distinguishing feature of Ahsoka Tano is her alien look: rusty skin, white tribal markings, and those memorable tentacles (okay, they’re officially known as head tails and montrals) atop her head. A sped-up video of Dawson’s daily makeup process lets us see the one hour and 43 minutes involved in the transformation…and even that doesn’t include wardrobe and pinning back Dawson’s trademark luscious locks!

Makeup artists Brian Snipe and Samantha Ward have done an incredible job translating the initially-2D character to real life, working with a 3D-printed skeleton on the inside of the head tails to allow for realistic-looking movement.

11. Recurring Star Wars fave Kevin Kiner is composing the epic score

Just as creator Filoni has risen to Star Wars GOAT status, composer Kevin Kiner has made his mark on the franchise’s sound in previous series The Bad Batch and Tales of the Jedi. Kiner specialises in booming, epic sci-fi soundtracks, from Star Trek to Stargate. He’s the perfect pick to score Ahsoka’s first stand-alone adventure, having crafted the sumptuous ‘Ahsoka’s Theme’, which you can listen to right here.

12. We want a Loth Cat plushie—stat.

Not a fun fact so much as a demand. First seen in Star Wars webcomics and then in Rebels and The Mandalorian, these fuzzy beasties found on the grassy planet Lothal are insanely cute and cuddly. They’re also quite carnivorous and temperamental.

Natasha Liu Bordizzo especially loved the animatronic versions of the chimeric critter on set: “That was my little buddy! That cat, the complexity of the design… I mean, it has a real skeleton under there, because that’s how they control such intense facial expressions and everything.” You can bet your bottom dollar that Disney is looking to merch-ify them, alongside the squee-worthy Porgs and Baby Yodas of yesteryear. Gimme.