The “Star Wars” franchise is known for its colorful characters: from green Yoda to red Darth Maul.
But bringing blue-hued Grand Admiral Thrawn to live-action was a challenge, “Ahsoka” showrunner Dave Filoni told TheWrap at Star Wars Celebration on Saturday.
“Blue is a tricky one,” Filoni admitted. “And there are a lot of blue characters out there now. Cad Bane was a much-debated blue.”
Filoni and his creative team previously brought Thrawn to the small screen in the animated “Star Wars Rebels” — where his skin color could be tweaked with just a click on a digital palette. Getting the color right in real life proved a far greater challenge.
“We went round and round on the blue!” Filoni admitted. “And the green [for Hera]. And the orange [for Ahsoka]!”
“Why did I do all these things?” he asked rhetorically, laughing. “I could’ve made my life so much simpler!”
“If the blue is very strong, it almost starts to lean too far back into animation,” Filoni explained. “So you have to find a blue that is complex, that has multiple layers to it, that has transparencies and a sense of blood and skin.”
Eventually, after much experimentation with Thrawn actor Lars Mikkelsen, the crew eventually found the correct blue. While fans worldwide got a glimpse of Thrawn’s navy neck in the trailer, attendees at Celebration were treated to a full reveal of his face.
But Filoni says the blue skin is just one physical trait and that Mikkelsen brings so much more to the role.
“The way he stands, the way he carries himself — he’s an admiral!” Filoni explained. And then, of course, there’s the voice.”I knew in Rebels when I heard him, ‘This is the guy.'”
“[Lars] pulls off the blue, Mary [Elizabeth Winstead] pulls off the green and they’re troopers,” he added. “When you make a decision to do a show like this and characters like this, [they’re] in the make-up chair 2-3 hours every day. That means they get there so much earlier than everybody else so they can make call time. It’s a commitment and it makes their life much more difficult and not a word of complaint. They’re all very into it and doing it and living it and I’m very grateful for that.”
Mikkelsen didn’t mind.
“It was fine,” the Danish actor told TheWrap of the make-up testing and application process. “I’ll even say in those 2 and 3 hours in the morning, you get sewn in. You see the character appear in the mirror.”
When asked if he was concerned about the blue getting on Thrawn’s very white dress uniform, Mikkelsen gave the most Grand Admiral reply.
“Oh yeah, that’s constantly a thing,” he replied. “But you have people tending that.”
“Ahsoka” premieres August 22 on Disney+.
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