We are currently living in a golden age of Star Wars. Between the new saga films, stand-alone movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the upcoming Star Wars-themed lands at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, a number of exciting video game projects (most notably Disney Infinity), and the rousing Star Wars Rebels animated series, there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes toStar Wars content. And, with the summer premiere of Disney XD’s new animated series LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, there’s a new wacky addition to the Star Wars universe.
The new series will debut on June 20 (10 a.m. EST) and a new episode will debut every day that week, until Thursday, June 23. It’s set in-between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (from the original trilogy), and “follows the Freemakers, a family of sibling scavengers who operate a salvage and repair shop in space.” The series comes after the insanely wonderful LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises, a short-form Disney XD series that was surrounding the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (you can watch them all below), and Disney XD’s LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales, a limited series that retold the original six films from the perspective of C-3P0 and R2-D2.
As the above video explains, “The series stars three Freemaker siblings who scour the galaxy for useful debris that they use to build new vehicles of their own design. Rowan, the spunky Force-sensitive 12-year-old with a thirst for adventure, is voiced by newcomer Nicolas Cantu. His quick-witted older sister, Kordi, voiced by Vanessa Lengies (Glee), manages the family business and is the glue that holds the family together. Ace pilot and charming rogue, Zander, voiced by Eugene Byrd (Arrow), is the oldest brother and the family’s self-proclaimed starship connoisseur.” Best of all, Lucasfilm sound wizard Matthew Wood voices R0-GR, also known as Roger, a refurbished droid from the Clone Wars adopted by the family.
If you’ve played with LEGO Star Wars toys or played the video games or watched any of the animated series based on LEGO Star Wars, you know the kind of fun, irreverent spirit that goes along with the franchise. This looks both wacky and heartwarming and it should be a wonderful addition to your summer viewing schedule.
As an added bonus, I got an exclusive interview with Wood, who has worked on a number of unforgettable Star Wars projects (including the prequels, Star Wars Rebels, and The Force Awakens), to talk to him about his new role as a plucky robot sidekick in the new LEGO Star Wars series.
Were you the voice of the original battle droids in the prequels and The Clone Wars?
Yes, yes I was. I did those in many, many episodes. They’re kind of near and dear to my heart.
What was it like to return to character, but in a different way?
I love those characters. Because I worked on the post-production team, we were able to change dialogues on those battle droids up until the very last minute because they don’t have mouths, they don’t have to reanimate their mouth. So we added little funny jokes here and there. Even though they were funny, they were Jedi killers and they were working for separatists and they were bad, so now it’s fun to play Roger as a sidekick/best friend to Rowan. And I get to protect him and keep him safe and at the same time get people to understand the legacy of the droids, because at this point I’m one of the last of its kind.
So you’re obviously a bad droid who’s now doing good. Was that a fun dynamic to play?
Yeah, you know, he gets to do things like bake cookies and go on adventures with Rowan to try and find these Kyber Crystals. He gets to protect this child, and I love it. He’s integrated as part of the family, part of the Freemaker family, and that feels really good.
LEGO Star Wars properties are different, tonally, from the movies.
Yes, and you know, I think that’s a big part of the writers, Bill and Bob, such Star Wars fans. They just love it. The fact that they invited me to be part of the show, I think they were instrumental in making that happen. There’s a freedom there where we can play, and we have some powerhouses—we’ve got Lucasfilm and Disney and LEGO all collaborating to make the series enjoyable for the audience, and you can just see the smiles on everyone’s faces when we record as a group. It’s really fun.
This new series is set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi—what was it like being a part of that continuity?
I love it, that’s my favorite part of the continuity, too. That era, to have that, to have those crossovers and have that possible, is huge. For me, it harkens back to my childhood because that was when I watched Star Wars. I saw the first Star Wars when I was five years old and the next one when I was seven or eight. It’s really fun to revisit those same eras, those same parts of the story that harken back to when I was a kid.
You’re a full-time sound editor at Lucasfilm—what is it like to go from something as serious as Rogue One to coming in and recording a little bit as Roger for Freemaker?
It’s hilarious, actually. I really enjoy being part of both, you know, anything in the saga. It also makes me feel happy about what we did on The Clone Wars—we did more than 100 episodes for that show. To have that character come from there makes me happy to know that I worked on that. Getting the opportunity to do acting, which is another one of my passions, using the same equipment I use to do my sound editing work is really fortuitous for me and I’m very happy about it. Sure, I’ve got to put on the different hats to be as serious for Rogue One andEpisode VIII, and, you know, blow off a little steam with the Freemakers.
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures premieres on Disney XD on June 20, and watch these great Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises shorts below!