Here at Nola Nerd Couple Headquarters, Star Wars makes up a large part of our lives. We have made trips to the West and East coast because of Star Wars. We collect everything Star Wars from figurines to calendars to games to clothes. We are keeping up with new Star Wars canon by reading the Marvel Comics. Cristina was a big fan of Clone Wars (which I have not seen) and started watching Star Wars Rebels as soon as it came out. Star Wars Rebels takes place about five years before the events of Episode IV. I did not plan on watching Star Wars Rebels, often doing something else while Cristina watched. It was hard to not pay attention. It has great stories that match the talent level of its cast which includes Freddie Prince, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Jason Isaacs, Dee Bradley Baker, and David Oyelowo. However, it was the character of Ezra Bridger voiced by Taylor Gray that really drew me in.
Ezra is a teenage force sensitive member of the early rebellion. He is the focal point of the drama. Will the dark side seduce him or will he continue to heed the lessons of his master? As we have seen in previous Star Wars adventures, this is hard to pull off. The character can become off-putting if not voiced perfectly. Mr. Gray doesn’t fall to these traps. His Ezra is heroic when he needs to be, sulky when called for, and inquisitive all of the time.
Taylor Gray was the featured guest at Bayou Con 2016. We actually met him at Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim. While meeting him there, I mentioned that it was my first time in L.A. and that I had never seen the Pacific. He recommended we go to Newport Beach because it was a gorgeous beach that was really close and accessible. We did take his suggestion, by the way, and had a fabulous meal at Il Farro in addition to me finally being able to see and touch the Pacific Ocean.
Well, when we met him at Bayou Con 2016, I repeated this story to him. He actually said he remembered the conversation. He then talked to us about his con experiences. Besides Celebration, he had only done San Diego and New York Comic-Con before this. He had also done a few Star Wars Weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. Those events were huge compared to this con. He talked about how well the convention was treating him and making sure he tried some great local cuisine. We got him to sign two pieces that we had bought at Star Wars Celebration. He wrote “May the Force be with you” on the pieces and said he finally gets to say that in Season 3.
After we took a picture with him, I asked him some questions about the craft. He really would like to do more live action acting, because that is where he started with. In fact, he filmed a movie, Thunderstruck, in Baton Rouge. He really enjoys voice acting and said it has really taught him a lot about the craft of acting. For instance, it is easy to show happiness or sadness with body expressions, but in voice acting it all has to come from the voice. One of the hardest things about voice acting is remembering there is a microphone there. Star Wars Rebels does their recording as a group, so there is plenty of interacting. The problem is that if he gets too much into interacting with another actor, he isn’t speaking into a microphone. If he isn’t speaking directly into the microphone they have to redo the take. It wasn’t just me asking the questions. He asked me if had a Cajun accent so I slipped into one which he was really impressed with. He asked about Katrina and how it affected us. Cristina had mutual friends with his handlers, including Echo Base Media, who does a bunch of Star Wars signings, so while they were talking a girl around the age of 10 asked him a few questions. You could tell she had a crush and it grew with his personality as he answered her questions.
Later in day, Taylor held his panel. The most interesting part to me was his lack of knowledge of the Star Wars universe. He has only seen a few of the movies and none of Clone Wars which has direct ties to Rebels. He said Freddie Prinze, Jr. constantly picks on him for his lack of knowledge. However, his ignorance has been an advantage to his acting. Dave Filoni, the show runner for Rebels, told him not to do any homework. Anything that Taylor Gray doesn’t know, his character, Ezra Bridger, doesn’t know as well. Ezra is new to the Rebellion and doesn’t have the history or knowledge the others have of the Clone Wars, the ascension of the Sith, or the Rebellion.
He also talked about some of his heroes in acting and how they inspire him. He loves the fact that the toy manufacturers send him every toy that is of his character and admitted to playing with them more than once, though he has given out a few to friends that showed an interest in the toy. When asked if his character was Snoke in the new movie, he deflected the question by saying how it is amazing how connected the Star Wars universe is for that. Unless they filmed a scene for season three that gives him this knowledge, I doubt he could really answer that question. His answer, however, showed his marketing savvy because it was neither an affirmation nor a denial. It was more of keep watching and find out. He also mentioned how that are in the midst of recording season three and that he definitely gets to play with the Force more and step up his training. If you have not seen and don’t want to know, stop reading because this is a tiny spoiler, but Kanan remains blind in the next season and has a semi-mask covering his upper eyes. He said it will be cool to see how Kanan responds to blindness now that one of his biggest senses is gone. Maul will continue to be a presence, perhaps tantalizing Ezra with the Dark Side even further. Also, the Mandalorians are going to become big to the story line, so will Boba Fett make an appearance? (Looking at you, Daniel Logan!)
He spoke about how cool it was to record with James Earl Jones. For a few episodes in season two, he could not be in L.A. to film, so had to Skype in his lines from New York, and James Earl Jones just happened to be doing the same thing as him. Finally, he talked about how he loved acting and how it allows him to be other people or show different sides of himself. He told us that a cosplayer had trouble talking to him once she got out of her costume. He thought that was cool and the great thing about conventions. It allows for people to show sides of themselves they didn’t know existed. He has said he would love to dress up as Ezra and walk around San Diego Comic-Con and said that most of the cast is willing to do it as well. Cristina did not think of this question until after, but if she would have had the chance, she would have asked if he thought Ezra was Team Sabine or Team Leia. (If you watch Rebels, you should understand!) By the way, Taylor said that there is no definite schedule of when the show would end and that it could go beyond five seasons. In fact, he hopes it continues for a long, long time.
The smallness of the con allowed for him to take his time with each guest. He was a little nervous during the panel, but he was entertaining and had the crowd completely interested in his stories.
I hope the next time we see him at a con, he is too busy to talk to us for long. Of course, we wouldn’t mind him remembering us and telling us hi.