SW: It was amazing. As an actor, I'd mulled over for years how I'd approach playing a Star Wars character, but I never thought I'd have an opportunity to put those ideas to use. It was a dream come true.
SW: My pal David Collins who worked at Lucasarts at the time called me up one night and said, 'Hey, I need you to send in your materials. Headshot, resume and reel.'
SW: We set out to deliver an experience that feels like the classic trilogy. We set out to tell a story about a photo-negative of Luke Skywalker, which is how I came to think of Starkiller. I think it's interesting to take Luke Skywalker and put him into a 21st century environment. In the 70s we had a naive but well-meaning farm boy who aspired to be something greater who goes on this hero's journey. In Starkiller we made it a bit more relevant to today in that Starkiller has to shed so much darkness before he can even begin to be his own man, his own Luke Skywalker. I think people related to that.
I mean, let's be honest. As Americans, we feel like we're victimizing someone somewhere if we carelessly throw a Coke bottle in the garbage instead of the recycling...and in some ways, that's true. We also have this incredible media machine. The 70’s were definitely a time of cynicism, and corruption certainly isn't a new concept, but I don't know if they had such an overwhelming white-noise generated by an increasingly obtrusive media machine. We don't know who to listen to, who our friends are, or what we should be doing moment to moment. Well, that's Starkiller. An evil empire hangs over his head and manipulates him into victimizing others. He's learned not to trust. He's a bit lost, but at the center of all that is a good kid who has the potential to be Luke Skywalker.
SW: I love being recognized in the street for that character. It happens often, and I'm very appreciative that people responded to him. I love that he shows up in the media like he did in the film Win Win. I never thought it would help my career the way it has.
SW: It's dangerous to expect things like that. As I said, I lose sleep over Star Wars projects. I'm damned happy for the positive feedback, though.
SW: I cannot comment on anything that hasn't been announced. But hey, go ahead and make noise about it! I dare you.
SW: I've said it before, I'll say it again. I have theater training. I studied the hell out of Shakespeare at drama school...but all I ever really wanted was an action figure with a damned lightsaber. Didn't think it'd be red though! Oops!
SW: I don't generally get nervous around well-known people any more. Having said that, yeah...I was nervous. However, he was great. Extremely gracious. We talked about the 1940s pace of the dialogue of the movies and how I tried to emulate that for the game. He was kind enough to sign my Force Unleashed poster. It was extremely wonderful of him to allow us to play in his sandbox.
SW: Wonderful...and terrifying! Dave Filoni explained I'd be playing the Dark Side of the Force! No pressure!
SW: I love Dave. He and his entire team have been ridiculously good to me. If someone told me when I was 15 that I'd have an open door to Skywalker Ranch, I'd punch them in the face. Dave and team have really brought me deeper into the Lucasfilm fold.
As for [Dave] being the right man for the job or not...Okay, look. I know more about Star Wars than most. I'm gonna out myself and say that I played the West End Games Star Wars RPG for years. Those sourcebooks are the founding backbone of the Expanded Universe and were the first encyclopedic-type volumes on info in the Star Wars universe. Lemme go geek on you...I was reading about Ryloth and Sienar Fleet Systems in 1987. Now that we got that out of the way, Dave Filoni is the ONLY man for this job. He knows his Star Wars. He knows storytelling. He knows filmmaking. He's exceptionally talented, motivated, and creative.
SW: I was honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to such a provocative piece. I mean, this wasn't just laser swords and ray guns here. This was Joseph Campbell stuff. As for my thoughts on The Clone Wars, I'm a huge fan. Another bonus.
SW: Well, early on I was trying to find the voice of the character. I asked Dave, "Hey man, are you concerned that this guy is gonna sound too much like Starkiller?" Dave responds, "Nah, I mean...well, Starkiller had a connection to the Dark Side of the Force, and your character IS the Dark Side, so if we hear a piece of him in there, that's fine." So that got me thinking. If he's the dark side, and we can hear Starkiller in there, then why not Darth Maul, why not Palpatine, why not Darth Vader?
So the next time I came in, I started playing with that. Putting little moments in there where the voice would change very slightly in the direction of some of those characters. Filoni picked up on it. I asked, "Too much?" He said, "Not enough!" So we had fun with it.
SW: Well, I was a huge fan before The Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars. I didn't think I could become a bigger fan. However, the Vader replica helmet on the shelf behind me has proven me wrong.
SW: Luke Skywalker. He is the eyes through which we see the movies. He also has the most interesting character growth of any Star Wars character. He's our hero and Mark Hamill nailed it so completely that we've been trying to recapture Luke in films since then. Frodo, Harry Potter, etc. and we've never quite gotten it as right. We owe the guy. The films don't work without him.
SW: Yep. Sorry dude, can't say more. It's that fourth character I mentioned.
SW: Words of wisdom...um...crush your enemies, see them driven before you...or something. Yeah, scratch that. Oh...please go to this link and donate. http://skygunbros-custom-creatures.com/leah_donation We gotta stick together.
We'd like to once again thank Sam for giving us an awesome interview and sharing all these great details about his Star Wars experience! Be sure to listen for him coming up in Season 4 in The Clone Wars when he'll be voicing the one and only Darth Maul!
Interview by Mike Martinez.