TIME celebrities

14 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Voice Actors

Freddie Prinze Jr. is back — and this time, he’s a Jedi.

In honor of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s voice acting role as Kanan in the new Disney Channel series Star Wars Rebels, here’s a look back at other celebrities who you may not have known had voice roles over the years.

Star Wars Rebels debuts on Oct. 3 with Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, an hour-long television movie premiere on the Disney Channel, while the series itself will begin on October 13 on Disney XD.

TIME Television

Everything You Need to Know About the Newest Star Wars Show

Star Wars Rebels brings fans back to a galaxy far, far away

Lucasfilm/Disney XD

With Star Wars: Episode VII more than a year away, the animated television series Star Wars Rebels gives fans their first glimpse at what Star Wars will look like as a Disney property.

Created by Dave Filoni, the supervising director of the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series, Rebels is set five years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and follows the familiar formula of teacher and apprentice with Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) serving as an initially reluctant Jedi teacher to a hot-headed Ezra (Taylor Gray).

Together with Kanan and Ezra, the motley crew of the starship Ghost traverse the galaxy while giving light to the nascent signs of rebellion rising up against the oppression of the Galactic Empire, setting the stage for the events of Star Wars: Episode IV.

The show further ties back to its Star Wars: Episode IV roots with its art style, which is heavily influenced by the original Star Wars concept art illustrated by Ralph McQuarrie.

See: Original Star Wars Concept Art

Already greenlit for a second season, the franchise is set to premiere with an hour-long television movie debut on Oct. 3 titled Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion on the Disney Channel, while the series itself will kick off on October 13 on Disney XD.

Meet the key players:

  • Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.)

    Lucasfilm/Disney XD

    Having escaped Order 66 (which purged the galaxy of Jedi), Kanan has spent most of his time in hiding, keeping his past and lightsaber under lock and key. In Rebels, he begins to rediscover his Jedi roots when he meets the force-sensitive Ezra.

  • Ezra (Taylor Gray)

    Lucasfilm/Disney XD

    A 14-year-old con artist and thief, Ezra has only known life under the grasp of the Empire. He relies on his street smarts and quick reflexes to survive until he crosses paths with Kanan and the crew of the Ghost. Amongst them, he discovers that his abilities are due to being in touch with the Force.

  • Zeb (Steve Blum)

    Lucasfilm/Disney XD

    Despite his muscle-bound appearance and tough-guy demeanour, Zeb is a well-trained and highly educated honor guard with a penchant for pulverizing storm troopers.

  • Sabine (Tiya Sircar)

    Lucasfilm/Disney XD

    Sabine is a no-nonsense Mandalorian master of arms and combat, the same race as famed bounty hunter Boba Fett. As such, she sports a similar set of body armor — albeit colored and decorated in her own unique style.

  • Hera (Vanessa Marshall)

    Lucasfilm/Disney XD

    Hera is the Twi’lek ace pilot of the Ghost; she serves as a nurturing mother figure to the otherwise gruff crew.

TIME film

J.J. Abrams Mashes Up Star Wars and Batman in Episode VII Tease

The Millennium Falcon as you've never seen it before

J.J. Abrams made the internet very happy Thursday. The Star Wars director tweeted out a video that at first seems like Episode VII footage, but then becomes something even greater: A Star Wars/Batman mashup.

It’s the Millennium Falcon as you’ve never seen it before.

Abrams has been exchanging these mashups with Batman v. Superman director Zack Snyder:

Fan fiction enthusiasts, commence!

TIME Video Games

Star Wars: Commander Is Slow-Going Unless You Pay Up

All of the game's content is available for free--so long as you're willing to wait for it.

Disney’s new freemium real-time strategy game Star Wars: Commander just arrived on Apple’s App Store in the U.S. as a time-limited exclusive for iOS devices (there’s an Android version coming shortly).

Don’t confuse it with Star Wars: Force Commander, another real-time strategy game released back in 2000 for Windows by now-Disney-owned studio LucasArts. It was a mess of a game–one of several failed attempts to give players a thoughtful, strategic window into the iconic Star Wars universe. To this day, no one’s succeeded.

So Commander is interesting because it’s the closest thing we’ve had to a thoughtful, strategy-minded Star Wars game–boardgames notwithstanding–in years. The only downer: it’s a free-to-play-slow, pay-to-play-faster game.

I’ve been noodling with it this morning, and it’s your garden variety real-time strategy game: kit out a base, build and upgrade structures, then deploy troops to slug it out in Star Wars-ian locales. After stepping through a few tutorial exercises that illustrate where to tap to buy things and how to tap to deploy units in combat, you’re allowed to throw in with either the Rebellion or the Empire, the difference between the two a matter of campaign storyline and playable unit types. Choose the Empire and you can trot out AT-ATs and Tie Fighters. Favor the Rebellion and you’ll have access to individuals like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia.

Underlying the economy are crystals, credits and alloy. Refineries and credit markets produce alloy and credits respectively. You purchase structures and units with the latter two, though these accrue at ridiculously slow speeds (as in “go-do-something-else-for-several-hours” slow), and which you have to harvest manually by tapping on the producing structures. Automation is apparently beyond warring factions with ultra-high-tech weaponry, but then that’s how the developers get you to pay attention to just how little your factories are generating at a given interval.

If you want to speed things up, you can pay real money for greenish “crystals” at price intervals of $100, $50, $20, $10 or $5, which in turn let you buy oodles of credits or alloy, as well as pay for protection (presumably against hostile incursions by other players, since the game also supports PvP battles). Fairly warned: if you dislike freemium games that lock most of their gameplay behind punitively slow resource generation clocks, you’re not going to like Commander at all.

What makes it feel like a Star Wars game? The retro gliding yellow-letter intro, of course. The character likenesses, with voice work not by the original actors but plausible analogues. Mostly John William’s unforgettable musical motifs, with signature flourishes from flutes, french horns and trumpets ebbing or swelling in the background obligingly. If you want some insight into the nerd-lore propping up the game’s logistics, GamesBeat interviewed one of the game’s producers about that (preview: it sounds like the Rebels are scavenging Clone Wars tech).

But since Star Wars was never about the battlefield minutia or the specifics of this or that piece of Separatist technology, it does start to feel a little like a generic real-time strategy template overlaid with a Star Wars-ian one. On the other hand, that sums up most Star Wars games: vanilla ice cream with dollops of Star Wars sauce. It’s also clearly Disney spooling up its Star Wars turbolaser in advance of Star Wars: Rebels, its animated Clone Wars TV series followup set half a decade before the events of the original Star Wars movie.

I should caution that Commander has launch quirks, in particular one where I minimized the game, then reloaded it, only to have it claim I’d launched a second instance on a second device, thus squelching the first one (in general, the game seems to hate minimization). It’s also arguably a poor fit, visually speaking, for a 4-inch iPhone: while you can zoom on the maps, the interface panels and text are just too small to use comfortably (like 22Cans’ Godus, Commander probably should have been tablet-only). Assuming Apple’s next iPhone has a significantly bigger screen, I’d reconsider that position. Barring that, I wouldn’t bother unless you have at least an iPad Mini.


Mark Hamill: New Star Wars Is a ‘Gift’

"Guardians Of The Galaxy" - UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
Mark Hamill in London, July 24, 2014. Samir Hussein—WireImage/Getty Images

The original Luke Skywalker is thrilled with the film's new talent

Longtime Star Wars fans aren’t the only ones excited to reunite with Luke Skywalker for the upcoming trilogy — even Mark Hamill called reprising his most famous role “an unexpected gift.”

“I already had a beginning, middle and end. I never thought we’d come back,” the 62-year-old actor told BBC News at the U.K. premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy. “I thought even if they did a third trilogy, we wouldn’t be involved, because it is really about the new generation of characters.”

Hamill is joining his original 1977 co-stars Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) as well as series newcomers, such as Girls‘ Adam Driver and 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o, for Episode VII in 2015.

“These kids — they are not kids — but they are so talented,” Hamill said. “We are just there to lend our support and grow contractually obligated beards.”


TIME movies

Here’s What the X-Wing Starfighter Looks Like in Star Wars: Episode VII

Director JJ Abrams also offers fans the chance to win a preview screening of the sequel

Eight weeks ago, Star Wars: Episode VII director J.J. Abrams announced that by donating to the “Star Wars: Force for Change” initiative, you, yes you, could be in the upcoming reboot of the iconic sci-fi franchise.

Now, in an online video in which he is shown standing next to the movie’s iteration of an X-Wing Starfighter, Abrams has kicked the fundraiser—for UNICEF—up a notch .

Fans who donate to the initiative–which has donations from 119 countries already–could win a chance to have an early and private screening of Star Wars: Episode VII in their hometown with 20 of their closest friends and family.

Already, the campaign, which is organized by the Omaze fundraising site, is offering fans the opportunity to fly to London with a friend for a behind-the-scenes look at the set, a chance to meet cast members, and most importantly, be transformed into a Star Wars character and be a part of an actual scene in the movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the campaign raised over $1 million in the first 24 hours of its launch. Disney has also donated $1 million to the cause, which will benefit UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and fund projects throughout the developing world.

You can still donate to the cause, and enter to win a chance to be in the movie or attend a preview screening, here. There’s only four days left though, so hurry.

TIME Star Wars

For Nerds, This Video Is Absolutely Everything

A mash-up of epic proportions

One Star Wars fan is recreating Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope entirely out of stills from Minecraft, the massively popular, low-res video game. The process has already taken three years, with individual scenes taking up to six months to recreate. Naturally, there’s not an official release date yet, though 90 minutes of the film are complete. When it does come out, it will be free to view.

TIME movies

Let’s Stop Talking About Star Wars Casting News

Why I wish I didn't know that two more cast members have signed on for the highly anticipated movie

By now, Star Wars fans will have heard the latest casting news: the highly anticipated Episode VII will feature Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen, who were found at open casting calls.

This is great news for Clarke and Andersen — but not necessarily so great for Star Wars fans. Clarke and Andersen, for all I know, are great people who deserve every bit of recognition they’ll get. They may be stars and fan-favorites in the making, who will see many more headlines in their time. But, as someone who doesn’t need to read about Clarke and Andersen in order to get excited for the movie, I wince every time I see another bit of information about Episode VII out there. So here’s my personal plea: let’s stop talking about every little bit of Star Wars news, at least for a little while.

In the months since Episode VII was announced, tidbits of information have been released at a fairly steady pace. Some of it is newsy (Harrison Ford’s on-set injury) and some of it is legitimately interesting (the casting of some very famous women, after initial skepticism over the gender imbalance in the initial cast report). Some of it is meta and some of it is fake. But a lot of it — like the photos from the set — is just the normal goings-on of making a movie, hyped up because this isn’t just any old movie. Buzz-building marketing is unsurprising, and it’s natural that the world wants to know what’s going on with Star Wars, but there’s just so much buzz that it’s already, for me, mixed with a touch of dread. At this pace, how is it possible that we won’t reach peak excitement far before it’s possible to pre-order tickets? How can the two hours or so spent actually watching it live up to years — years! — of analyzing its creation?

Consumer psychology has shown that buying something can be less gratifying than thinking about buying it, especially for people who care more than most about material acquisition. New York magazine’s long-running feature on “the undulating curve of shifting expectations” traces a similar phenomenon when it comes to pop culture: wanting something too much often gives way to backlash, and the inability to enjoy the thing once you have it. (And, lest anyone believe that Star Wars is immune from backlash: Jar Jar Binks.) The research firm Gartner has dubbed it the Hype Cycle, a theory that shows that technologies experience a “peak of inflated expectations” followed by a “trough of disillusionment.” The journal n+1 has declared that the way to deal with cultural Hype Cycles, the overwhelming and ever-more-present nature of buzz, is to be too cool to care.

Episode VII doesn’t come out until December of 2015, and that’s plenty of time to reach Star Wars overload — or, perhaps worse, to feel like the movie itself is merely part of a marketing machine. When I pitched this story, my editor compared the constant flow of news to being fed a meal ingredient by ingredient, which feels right but worrisome: Yoda forbid the movie feels like half-digested mush, with no way to admire the finished product — nutritious though it may be.

When I saw A New Hope as a kid, it was with fresh eyes, not knowing a Carrie Fisher from a Calrissian, and the experience was one of not just joy, but also surprise. I later sought out information about how it was made because I loved the movie; I didn’t love the movie because I already knew what went into it. There’s no way to recapture that freshness for Episode VII — not with six movies coming before, not with my being an adult, not with the Internet existing. And there’s no reason to be super secretive about things like the casting of minor characters, since that’s — in itself — a form of buzz-creation.

But hundreds of movies a year get made without the world having to study each new development. Extreme fans will find the information on their own and be able to sustain multiple years of regular Star Wars thoughts without wanting to think about something else (I thought about Buffy the Vampire Slayer every single day for multiple years without hitting the backlash stage, so I know it’s theoretically possible), but more casual consumers and mid-level fans are better off without it.

Years from now, when they’re super famous, if Crystal Clarke or Pip Andersen hurts an ankle filming Episode XVII, that will be worth reporting. But for now, let’s leave them alone so they can do their jobs. The world will still be interested in a year and a half.

TIME movies

Star Wars: Episode VII Adds Two Cast Members

The announcement comes ahead of a two-week production hiatus to accommodate Harrison Ford's leg injury

The production of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII announced Sunday that it has added two more to its cast ahead of its two-week break to accommodate Harrison Ford’s leg injury: American actress Crystal Clarke and parkour pro Pip Andersen.

The two came to Lucasfilm and Disney through a massive open call that spanned 11 cities across the U.S. and the U.K. and saw more than 37,000 people attend. An additional 30,000 people submitted applications online.

Clarke, studying in Glasgow, is starring in the upcoming feature film The Moon and the Sun. Andersen showed off his parkour skills in a recent Sony ad for Spider-Man.

“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition,” Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film.”

The film is currently shooting in London’s Pinewood Studios after finishing up work on location in Abu Dhabi in May. In August, the production will take a two-week break as Harrison Ford recovers from a leg injury sustained during filming, though a statement says the film is still on schedule to complete filming in the fall and hit theaters Dec. 18, 2015.

TIME movies

Star Wars Creator George Lucas Has Chosen Chicago for His Museum

Lucas Museum-Chicago
This 2013 file photo shows an aerial view at night of the downtown Chicago skyline. Star Wars creator George Lucas has selected Chicago to build his museum of art and movie memorabilia Kiichiro Sato—AP

Both San Francisco and Los Angeles campaigned to host the movie-memorabilia and art museum, but "aggressive" lobbying by Chicago won Lucas over

After sort of retiring from Hollywood in 2012, director George Lucas has announced that he will open a museum in Chicago showcasing both his 40-year career as a filmmaker and the extensive art collection he amassed along the way.

Some have criticized the museum as a monument to hubris, but perhaps he’s earned it. Few dispute that Lucas has established himself as one of the successful and influential figures in the history of American cinema: this is the man, after all, who gave us Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is slated to open in 2018 next to Soldier Field. Lucas will put down at least $700 million to finance its construction. In addition to paraphernalia from the sets of Lucas’ films, the museum will house his immense collection of American art by painters Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and others.

He said in a statement that choosing the planned museum’s location proved a “difficult decision,” and only came after fierce bidding between Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The latter was his first choice — he grew up across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in the sleepy town of Modesto — but he turned his attention elsewhere when he couldn’t nab a desired location on the city’s waterfront.

A social media campaign led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to bring the museum to the crucible of American cinema apparently failed to compete with Chicago’s lobbying effort, which the Chicago Tribune described as “aggressive.” (Personal factors may have directed Lucas’ choice as well — Mellody Hobson, whom he married last summer, grew up in the city.)

“This is a milestone for the city, but it is just one milestone on a journey as we build this new museum,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when announcing the decision.

Chicago welcomed a record 46.37 million tourists in 2012.

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