There’s no question Star Wars Rebels greatness comes from the sum of its parts. There isn’t a lead character per se and all the Ghost Team members have each seen wonderful character growth. But it’d be tough to argue the fact that the story of Ezra Bridger in some ways hasn’t guided the direction of the show for three and a half years now.
Of course age has something to do with that. When the crew met Ezra on Lothal he was young, naïve and full of vigor. The years have impressed upon him a maturity and knowledge that has led to some of the shows strongest arcs. His character has provided opportunities for the older ones to assume the roles of teacher, mentor and sage none more so than his surrogate parents Jedi master Kanan Jarrus and General Hera Syndulla.
Where Ezra’s story ends up by the series’ conclusion is up to Dave Filoni of course but with no other canon materials to go by we’re left with nothing but theories and speculation.
The voice of Ezra is provided by Taylor Gray, a 24-year-old American actor who has been in the business now 10 years. A rare occurrence in animation, Taylor or Ezra rather, resemble each other in many ways physically and would be a shoe in if there was a live action opportunity down the road. Additionally, his voice in person is as it sounds on Rebels which makes for a fun interview, at times you feel like you’re talking to Ezra Bridger himself.
We recently spoke with Taylor about just that and how the show has given him friends for life. Enjoy!
Hi Taylor. I know you must be very busy so thanks so much for doing this.
No, thank you. Thanks for accommodating. No problem.
First, congratulations. The show is coming to an end and I’m a big fan of the show. It’s been a great 3.5 years and we’re hitting the home stretch here. It’s been a great series and you’re a big part of the success and I’m sure it’s been quite a ride.
Thanks so much for the kind words. It’s been a blast to be a part of and I’m glad everyone has enjoyed it so much because it’s been such an enjoyable process for all of us. I’m glad the story is coming to an end in a very cool way and I hope everyone enjoys it.
Saw you in Toronto in September, and Dave Filoni at the time had said only 2 or 3 three people have seen the end. You’ve obviously done your voice recordings for the season finale, but have you seen the finished product?
Yeah, I did all my stuff but he (Filoni) only gave me my lines. I don’t even know what pages they’re on. It was the most hush-hush, like under the cover kind of thing. I don’t know exactly where my dialogue fell in that last episode. So, Dave might be the only person who knows everything in the series finale, I think he is actually.
Is it hard for you to record it that way, from an emotional point of view?
At first it was, we grappled with it a bit at the beginning but now that’s just the process. Dave kinda loves that and he’ll have animators even edit false endings just to see if anyone says anything, what gets out, which I find very funny.
Performance wise he always gives you enough information. He makes sure you know the back story and what precedes that line, everything around that scene that you’re working. But he was very secretive with the finale so I’m very excited as well, as a fan myself, to see how it all ties together.
As someone who actively looks for any information I can get, credit to Dave and everyone because it’s quiet out there. In the end that’s a good thing for everyone I think.
Yeah, it’s all good fun. Sometimes things slip and that’s also fun as well but you just don’t want to spoil the whole thing and he’s done a good job at that. No one really knows how it all ties together so I think it will be a genuine surprise for everyone and that’s really cool.
When did you finish up your recording session?
I’m not sure of the exact last day because we’ve just done some pickups a few weeks ago. We had to go back and edit a few lines here and there that were sprinkled throughout the last few episodes.
Okay, so not that long ago then. It’s cool talking to you because it’s clear they don’t modulate or alter your voice at all, it’s basically dry. It’s like I’m talking to Ezra Bridger in a way.
Yeah, the thing was they dug my take on the role and playing it as a kid. I pitched up the voice a little bit in the first season and then as he’s grown and matured and cut his hair, gotten a little stronger as well which is funny in animation, he’s grown up. We’ve grown with Ezra which has been really cool and we’ve seen that whole maturation process. So, his voice has matured, I mean Ezra talks right here, “Spectre 6 to Ghost”…
That’s cool, you talk to so many people and their voices have been changed so there’s a bit of detachment there. Listening to Freddie (Prinze Jr.) on a podcast recently, he mentioned Ezra is the star of the show, he’s the center. It’s starts and ends with your character. You’ve been playing this character, I imagine it’s personal to you, his outcome. Do you feel he’s had a good final moment in the show?
Yeah, I feel it’s (the story) done Ezra justice. Like Freddie said, we were all briefed at the very beginning of the series even before we did an episode Dave gave us a basic rundown of the show. Ezra is the central point of the show, he is the eyes and lens that we see this part of the Star Wars universe through. He’s a great character to follow as well because he has his ups and downs, exploring the dark side, becoming a Jedi and also, he’s endlessly curious. That’s made for great story telling because he’s been able to dive into all these different settings and situations and as he’s grown he’s figured out who he is within the force and what the force is within him.
Which I think transcends Rebels and goes into life in general whether we call it the force or not in our own life. It’s us trying to be the best versions of ourselves and find that center and find that inner peace. I think the end of the series does a really good job of tying together what was opened at the beginning of the series. Who knows what the future is for the entire crew of the Ghost.
That’s in interesting point there. With other things around now like Forces of Destiny and Rogue One we know a lot about the outcomes of certain characters. But currently there’s no other canon material about Ezra.
Yeah, hopefully that comes, who knows. I need to see how the show ends first!
Right. We know like Hera for instance is still around during Endor thanks to Forces of Destiny and some other characters, we’ve got novels and comics to go by. But for Ezra, I’m wondering, since there’s isn’t anything out there, did you have any input into his outcome with Dave or did he just tell you what was happening.
They kinda told me what was happening as far as the storytelling goes. From Episode to episode when we’re recording the dialogue we’ll tinker with a bit, Dave would say, “you guys are the characters, you know the characters best”. If it wasn’t how we thought they would voice something, we would change-up the words here and there. Story wise they are pretty set on that; the whole story group goes over this for hours and they’ve come up with great stories. For the whole fourth season it was like this is where It’s going, let’s all do it together.
Right. It definitely is hinting at Ezra ending up on Lothal and it seems like the logical place for him. Whether he’s alone or not we’ll have to wait and see. At the same time, it’d be great to see him get out on his own and see the universe a bit and like you said maybe in the future get an Ezra novel or show, or show up in a movie. He is growing up and it’d be great to see an adult Ezra out in the wild with his full set of skills.
It’d be so much fun. Anytime you get a cool new Jedi and you can implement that into a story and have him for any future stories would be very cool.
We’ve been hearing about the Loth-Wolves for some time now because of Dave Filoni’s love of all things wolf. Was he geared up for those episodes, like “Flight of the Defender” because it was the first appearance of the wolf and its strong connection to your character? Was he extra giddy those days?
Oh, very much so. That was the thing going into the fourth season that he told us, “look guys, I have a huge idea, I really think that it’s something special, if we can do it right it’ll be awesome, if we do it wrong it will be very weird.” I think it’s gone over well so far and he was very careful with his choice of words so that we understood what was going on in the story in relation to the wolves. So I’m very excited to see that storyline play out as well.
Yeah, Freddie said something similar where it’s going to get a lot weirder but it’s all going to make sense and echoed how important it all is to the overall storyline. So, it’s all coming to an end and you’re a fairly young guy still and you’ve seen so much in 4 years. Can you describe what it’s been like being a part of this whole thing which is basically a religion at this point?
It is a religion, that’s a good way to describe it. It has a following, there are leaders that are telling stories and people have faith in it. It parallels life as we go about it. It’s a huge community. It’s one of the most loyal fan bases in all of pop culture similar to the way the Beatles are a pillar in music, Star Wars has been that for cinema and film. To be a part of it, it’s so enormous and you see so much that at times you feel like you’re drowning in it. It’s been unbelievably cool and everyone is so accepting and you do feel like you’re part of this larger family. It’s taken me all over the world and met so many cool people.
Honestly, I was very nervous coming into it because it is Star Wars, and even though we’re just little pebbles in a huge universe, I know that people will dissect it so carefully and you just want to do your character justice and the whole universe justice. When they bring in Lando Calrissian or a young Princess Leia your blown away. I mean, the first time Darth Vader speaks to you that’s insane your kinda taken out of the show for a second and you’re like just “Taylor” in the room and it’s insane.
It’s been such a fun process, talking to fans and hearing the speculation I mean I’m a fan myself. It’s been super fun to hear the different theories about what’s going on and the nicest part is your now part of this franchise forever so it’s very cool and I’m looking forward to all the Star Wars to come as well.
Yeah, that’s right. This is “forever” now right? You could potentially live off attending Comic Con and Celebrations the rest of your life. You could be an old Taylor Gray and show up to a Con anywhere in the world and people would be happy to see you.
(laughs) I don’t about that totally, I mean people are out there on the circuit. It is so fun because when your recording your just in a black box really with the rest of the cast and Dave and the creators and your saying these lines and putting all your emotion into it. You really believe that you’re in the cockpit of the Ghost or walking across Tatooine and then you finish the recording and it’s all gone, you wonder if anyone see’s it, there’s no connection to anyone else.
So going to a convention and meeting the fans is a real eye opener because your reminded that people are watching and enjoying the show. It’s not like theatre where there’s immediate approval or whatever, there’s no one there to say, “oh yeah, were checking it out and this is what we think” so it’s fun going out and meeting fans because you get to hear their sentiments about the show.
Absolutely, I’m sure the reaction at these events is mostly entirely positive than say Twitter which can be a dark hole sometimes. So, speaking of Star Wars family, maybe just talk about your fellow actors, Vanessa, Freddie, etc…and how close you guys have become?
Yeah, we’ve been working on the show together for over four years now. When I started playing Ezra I wasn’t even old enough to legally drink so I’ve really grown up with them in certain senses. I’m very much so still learning and growing as we all are but I can very much relate certain seasons of the show to times in my own life. I would be going through something and would I think of Ezra going through similar situations and the lessons he learned. Its cool when someone becomes a Jedi I think it parallels our lives and I’ve seen how that has shown up in my own life.
Just like that, our relationships are the same way and they transcend the show and we’re all really good friends. I think we’re about to take a trip up to Skywalker Ranch next month which will be super fun and any chance we get to hang out is amazing. We have dinners as often as possible and we’re doing a gaming a session with Freddie (Prinze Jr.) and Sam (Witwer), I think the whole cast will be there.
Everyone is so busy but we’ll always be in each other’s lives in some way and I’m sure we’ll be on the Con circuit together. We’ve talked about doing a thing as a whole group of Rebels just hitting a couple of conventions.
Is Freddie able to turn off the “Jedi Master” mentor/role when you guys hang out? He’s been in the business a long time now.
Freddie is a great actor and understands that when you take parts of the show and put it into real life it just helps inform the acting. Early on in the show he kind of took me under his wing and was kind of like, “I am the master, you will learn from me” and he did, he taught me a lot of really cool lessons. And then as Ezra got stronger to the show he kind of backed off a bit and let me find my own way through this. He’s just been in this industry for a long time and while I’m much younger I’m trying to go through a similar course.
It’s cool, he’s been awesome. He really is a master through and through of what he does, he’s such a cool guy. So yeah, he’s able to turn it off when we hang out and he’s a great cook as well so that’s a good combo there.
Is there anything you can tell us about the second half of the season without getting into too much trouble? Are we going to see any thing between Ezra and Sabine? Or anything at all you can reveal?
That we will have to wait and see! There are a certain things I know I’m not allowed to say. We will get more of the wolves and we’re gonna see, it’s all been opened up during the first half. We’re getting a lot more of Lothal, every story line that’s been opened up almost all of them come to a close in some sort of way.
We hit Mandalore right off the top, are we getting back to Mandalore at all or seeing Sabine’s family again?
Ooooh, I don’t know! Maybe!
Okay, I won’t push you any further. Listen Taylor, thanks so much for your time. We’re all sad that it’s coming to an end, the show has a ton of fans as you know. Maybe on the live show? You are one of the rare instances where you and your character look similar so maybe a live action Ezra?
Yeah, this one totally does! We’ve been so busy with Rebels coming to an end I’ve heard nothing on that end. If Ezra’s future serves a purpose in a live action setting that would be so cool to take it from that (Rebels) to the screen.
Well good luck with your future Taylor and take care. Cheers.
Thank you very much and I hope you enjoy the rest of the season. Have a good one.
Well, there you have it. Taylor couldn’t have been nicer and was very generous with his time. We talked about all sorts of things non-Star Wars related as well and he is very busy with a lot of projects coming out.
Till next time…MTFBWY.