Monday, March 24, 2014

Kane, Mayhew Talk Episode VII and Rebels at Star Wars Panel

By: Lillian Skye

Star Wars fans flocked to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for Megacon 2014--a convention that celebrates anime, comic books, and sci-fi. A panel that took place on Sunday, March 23rd, centered around a Q&A with Star Wars: The Clone War's Tom Kane and Peter Mayhew, the actor behind the mighty Chewbacca.

Before the panel started, Megacon volunteers had to situate fans into the crowded room, announcing that the fire marshal had threatened to close the convention the day before due to the fire hazard of having a large amount of people lining the walls and blocking the room's exits. Fans were seated along the walls in the side, back, and front of the room, and a few were even sitting off in the front close to the table with Kane and Mayhew.

When everyone was finally seated, Tom Kane strode in followed by Peter Mayhew, who was being pushed behind in a wheelchair. As Tom Kane stepped up onto the platform and took a seat at the table, a volunteer helped Mayhew to stand and ascend the stairs. The stairs appeared to be a struggle, but Mayhew confidently walked to his seat utilizing his blue lightsaber cane, and when he finally sunk into his chair  he rose the lightsaber cane above his head very tusken raider-like as the panel cheered.

Tom Kane kicked off the panel by welcoming audience member's questions, calling out fans in the crowd to speak up. Several of the first few questions were directed at Mayhew, and one asked how he came up with Chewbacca's noticeable head tilt. Peter Mayhew said that the tilt was inspired by having to duck his head when walking through doorways. More questions about his Original Trilogy experience followed, and Peter discussed how hot the Chewie costume was, and even went into detail on how the costume he wore in Revenge of the Sith was made of different fur and felt differently than the one he wore in Empire. 

Mayhew has proven to not only be a true Star Wars fan, but a knowledgeable one at that. Fan asked Mayhew about what he thought of the death of Chewie in the Expanded Universe novels, and Mayhew noted that when the book was going to print that publisher who called him said "EU books do not have a bearing on the movies." In fact, one "Chewbacca Dead" report that was supposed to discuss the death of the Wookiee in the novels, falsely printed the headline "Peter Mayhew Dead," to the shock of his family and friends. Peter also added that once a heartbroken younger fan approached him, concerned about Chewbacca. Mayhew told the boy "I'm here and as far as I'm concerned I ain't dead yet," and said that the boy walked away beaming.

Mayhew is even a fan of the Star Wars Holiday Special, and doesn't know why it was banned. "It paid mortgages." An unusual fact about the movie, he said, was that Chewie's father-in-law in the film was played by an 18 year old student, his wife was played by a man, and his son was played by a woman. Who knew?

One fan even dared to bring up Episode VII, questioning the 69 year old actor about his involvement. "Have you read about it on the internet?" The crowd chuckled, to which Peter concluded by saying that he did not "know anything about it."

Tom Kane spoke up on the topic, adding that Lucasfilm is one of the most secret productive companies in Hollywood. Kane noted that when Mayhew says he doesn't no anything about Episode VII, that he really doesn't know. He said that he recently spoke to Mark Hamill and asked when they were going to begin filming VII, and Kane added that Mark said that they don't tell him anything. The discussion continued when Peter said that it took them 2 1/2 years to film, work on, and eventually release  Episode V, and wondered "how the hell" they're going to complete the latest installment in only 18 months.

When a fan asked Tom Kane who his favorite character to voice in the Clone Wars (other than Yoda), was Kane was ready:  "They didn't use him much, they pretty much wrote him out of the show, but I liked Yularen." Kane noted how Yularen was he was a character that was in Star Wars "for twenty seconds" (he can be seen during the scene when Vader chokes Motti). 

"It was kind of fun to sort of imagine the background story. Here's this guy who in the Clone Wars universe was clearly a "good guy," and a man of honor who somehow ends up on the bridge of the Death Star in a white uniform. We always kind of joked, Dave Filoni and I like "Maybe maybe he was really working for the Rebels. How did they get those plans? Hmmm....maybe Admiral Yularen?" So we wonder how did he go from that to that?"

Kane even discussed voice acting with the audience, leaning towards the mic as he demonstrated the voices of Yoda and Professor Utonium (from Power Puff Girls) for the crowd. He delved into Star Wars Rebels, and said that although voice acting has changed over the years, at the end of the day it's really just "100 or so" voice actors in the industry that you're hearing over and over again doing a lot of different voices for various projects. Kane said that if he was invited back for Rebels he'd love to provide a voice, but that fans are making a voice actors' job harder since they're getting better at picking them out. He said if anyone will return it Rebels from The Clone Wars, that it would be Dee lending his voice to a monster or alien. He even said there's a possibility JAT could join the series since Obi-Wan is out there somewhere. If the Clone Wars actors did return, he added, they would be voicing minor characters since Rebels is an entirely differnt show than Clone Wars.

When the panel ended, Kane stood up as Peter Mayhew, a staggering seven 7'2", rose to his feet and almost dwarfed the very tall voice behind the miniature Jedi Master. It was touching to see the actors who portray Chewie and Yoda, fan favorites, leaving the room together.

Yet, I still can't help but wonder if Tom Kane channeled his inner Frank Oz and uttered "Goodbye Chewbacca, miss you I will" to Mayhew at the end of the Con.


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