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‘Force’ awakens with new animated ‘Star Wars Resistance’

By Rick Bentley • Oct 9, 2018 at 6:00 PM

LOS ANGELES — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” picks up more than 30 years after events in “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi.” A lot can happen in three decades. That’s where the new animated series “Star Wars Resistance” will fill in some of the gaps. The production, which debuted Sunday on Disney Channel, takes place just before the events of “The Force Awakens.”

Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono (voiced by Christopher Sean) is a young pilot recruited by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to work for the Resistance on a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. Poe and BB-8 take newly-appointed spy Kaz to the Colossus, a massive aircraft refueling platform on an outer rim water planet, home to aliens, droids and creatures.

Sean is new to voice acting, having worked on live-action projects such as “Hawaii Five-0,” “Days of Our Lives” and “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” But, Sean has been a fan of animation all his life, particularly anime, and of the “Star Wars” franchise.

“To find the way to play Kaz, I took in Han Solo’s charisma, Poe Dameron’s instincts and my father being military, I take in from him respect,” Sean says. “Of course I take in my silliness and my clumsiness.”

As for where “Resistance” fits in the “Star Wars” universe, Sean doesn’t see it as the bridge between “Return of the Jedi” and “Force Awakens.” His take is the universe is massively big. The events of “Resistance” are just a piece of a lot of stories to be told.

The team behind “Star Wars: Resistance” are veterans of previous “Star Wars” projects. The series was created by Lucasfilm Animation veteran Dave Filoni, the man behind “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels.” Executive producers include Athena Portillo (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) Justin Ridge (“Star Wars Rebels”) and Brandon Auman.

Portillo says having so many people involved who have been involved with other “Star Wars” projects makes it easier to stay within the parameters of the mythology. Ridge has worked with Filoni so much he can hear the series creator’s voice in his head as the episodes are being made, and that’s how the stories stay on the right track.

One common element of the “Star Wars” franchise is the hot shot pilot, and in this case that would be Hype Fazon (Donald Faison). Getting to be part of the “Star Wars” universe has been a lifelong wish for Faison, but when he heard the character he would be voicing was named Fazon, his “Star Wars” dreams had come true.

“The character was created for me, so this is the best day of my life,” Faison says. “I have always wanted to be in ‘Star Wars’ as an actor, but now my name is in ‘Star Wars.’ And, it will always be in ‘Star Wars’ and that makes me feel great.”

What ends up being a bonus for Faison, who’s best known for his role as Dr. Turk on “Scrubs,” is he’s playing one of the top pilots in the galaxy. His favorite characters from the feature films had always been Han Solo and Lando Calrissian because they didn’t have any special powers except being great fliers.

“I always wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid. I wanted to fly the Millennium Falcon. I couldn’t do that in real life so the only way I could do that was to become an actor,” Faison says.

Another element is the cast of unusual creatures and characters. Jim Rash (“Community”) and Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) speak for Flix and Orka, a pair of odd merchants.

Moynihan has a long list of acting credits including voice work on “DuckTales,” but he threw himself into the voice work for “Resistance” because he knows how important every moment presented in the franchise is in regards to the mythology. One slip and the fans will let him know.

But, Moynihan comes to the animated series with a strong foundation to play Orka. He points out his character is the same species as the batlike creature from the Cantina scene in “New Hope.”

“I am just a little heavier and have a beard,” Moynihan says of his character. He smiles and adds, “I am that in real life too.”

Moynihan mainly speaks for Orca but also voices some of the lesser characters. It doesn’t matter to him if it is a monologue or one line, Moynihan treats each word with reverence because as a fan he knows one line from a character could one day be “12 books and a movie.”

The voice cast also includes Suzie McGrath (“East Enders”) as Tam Ryvora, Scott Lawrence (“Legion”) as Jarek Yeager, Myrna Velasco (“Elena of Avalor”) as Torra Doza and Josh Brener (“Silicon Valley”) as Neeku Vozo.

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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