Ahsoka: Why Lothal's Governor Looks So Familiar

While "Star Wars Rebels" fans will no doubt spot some familiar faces in the debut season of "Ahsoka," there's one particular cameo in Episode 1 that any self-respecting film and TV fan cannot miss. Singing the praises of impending Padawan Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) is the governor of Lothal, Ryder Azadi, played by legendary actor Clancy Brown, who has become more prominent as a voice artist in recent years.

From Bikini Bottom to Metropolis, Clancy Brown has breathed life into some of history's most iconic animated characters. However, that's not to say his time in front of the camera was just as memorable. Wielding a massive on-screen presence, Brown is the kind of talent that can play the stoic advisor as much as he can nail being the antagonist genuinely worth fearing. In one of his earliest roles, Brown made a name for himself as a foe that seemed almost unstoppable, running on excessive amounts of leather and a killer Queen soundtrack. Guess those are just the perks of being immortal, right?

There could be only one Kurgan in Highlander, and it was Clancy Brown

1986 was a career-defining year for Clancy Brown when he starred opposite Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery in the sword-swinging cult-classic, "Highlander." In a tale spanning centuries, chronicling the journey of the immortal Connor McLeod (Lambert) through time, Brown was the hulking anarchist aiming for his head. No matter what era he was in, Brown's The Kurgan was a killer foil to face off with our hero, but more importantly, was enjoyable to watch. Snarling at nuns in churches and careening through New York streets, Brown made his mark and earned a rare accolade with one of his co-stars.

During its back-and-forth storytelling, it's revealed that the Kurgan kills McLeod's mentor, played by Connery, making him one of the few actors to ever take the legendary star out on screen. "Ah, killing Sean, that was quite an honor," he recalled while speaking to The Skinny in Edinburgh for the film's 30th anniversary. "I think at that point, only one other person had killed him on screen." Praising his screen partner for the sequence, he added, "He's a formidable, physical guy, very coordinated, and knew his way around a stunt. What was so impressive is that Sean didn't seem to have to work that hard at it." In hindsight, neither did Brown.

He kept an eye on Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption

"The Shawshank Redemption" is one of the greatest films ever made, and Clancy Brown helped it be just that. Among the many screws grinding down on the wrongfully accused Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), chief among them is prison guard Captain Hadley, who is quicker to swing a truncheon at one of the inmates of Shawshank prison than reason with them. Considering this, it's amazing that Robbins' super-cool incarcerated hero was able to pacify the thuggish brute, even when he was dangling him off a roof. Incredibly, Brown revealed to Yahoo! that he had other things to attend to around that filming day.

"That was the day before I got married, actually, in real life," Brown recalled. "I had to hop on a plane or hop in a car and drive down to Chicago and say my wedding vows the next day. So I was a little preoccupied during that scene, and it was a long day, I remember because they had a lot of rigging to do to make sure that Tim didn't fall over and die." They even finished the scene and had a warm bottle of suds to celebrate. "You're not allowed to do that stuff anymore, but I think the prop guys brought up real beer after we wrapped, and we all shared a cold one." Cheers to that.

Clancy Brown played a soldier named Zim in Starship Troopers

In retrospect, just as Michael Ironside was an essential star to throw into Paul Verhoeven's beloved bug hunt, "Starship Troopers," so too was Clancy Brown as a no-nonsense training officer, Zim. Breaking in the cadets that were aiming to do their part against the inhabitants of Klendathu, Zim later returned for the film's finale and helped save the day, turn the tide, and leave the bugs running scared in Verhoeven's anti-war, pro-war movie.

Interestingly, the role of Zim in "Starship Troopers" was one that Brown was determined to land as soon as he heard about it.In a breakdown of his roles with AV Club, Brown recalled, "As soon as I saw they were doing 'Starship Troopers' — I mean, that's classic sci-fi canon, man. You've got to do it. No matter how good it is, no matter how c——y it is, you've got to do it." 

Bugs or not, though, Brown spoke like he owed his inner nerd something when taking the role, even despite the film's disappointing reception. Thankfully, fandom has kept the franchise alive, with "Starship Troopers" finding a second life in animated form. Still, Brown was just glad to be there from the drop. "I'd do anything that's classic sci-fi canon," the actor said. "I actually really like that movie. I liked it very much from the beginning. I was shocked that it did no business."

Clancy Brown helped build Frank Castle in The Punisher

When Netflix handled its hard-edged corner of the MCU, it was littered with an impressive collection of talent. This esteemed lineup included Clancy Brown, as he played a brief, but brilliantly picked part in "Daredevil." Taking the stand for the trial against Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), Brown played The Punisher's former commanding officer, Colonel Ray Schoonover, who turned out to be a secret drug lord, The Blacksmith. Eventually, he made the order to kill Frank and his family, which became a botched job he'd live to regret. 

Clancy Brown relished being part of the world that was being built at the time. Speaking to Syfy (via ComicBook.com), Brown said, "I've always been a fan, it was always kind of forbidden when I was a kid." At this point, comic book worlds were thriving, and even while the pot was boiling over, Brown saw potential in the direction "Daredevil" and "The Punisher" were headed. "Something like Punisher [is a live-action character] that kind of has to be solved, but I think they're doing a good job now of both 'Daredevil' and 'Punisher.' They hadn't really been done well until Netflix did them." Until Netflix had done them, huh? Well, no pressure Disney+.

Clancy Brown already visited the Star Wars universe as Burg in The Mandalorian

Incredibly, "Ahsoka" isn't the first time Clancy Brown has turned up in the galaxy far, far away. Aside from voicing some characters in "Star Wars: Clone Wars," "Star Wars: Rebels" and most recently, the anthology series, "Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi," Brown also made an appearance in the first season of "The Mandalorian," as a totally different species. In Season 1, Chapter 6, he stepped into the shoes of the angry Devaronian, Burg, operating as the muscle for a prisoner rescue mission. The episode ended with Din Djarin getting the drop on his colleagues for the job and leaving them behind to get the bounty for himself. As a result, it seemingly left Burg to make a crimson-colored comeback with horns included. The only question is if Burg would break out for a comeback.

It would make for an interesting reappearance now that Brown is playing two characters in the same space and time. The events of "Ahsoka" are around the same period as Din Djarin's antics from "The Mandalorian," but according to the star himself, a reunion with Burg doesn't look likely. When asked by The People's Movies if the devilish dude would be back for seconds following the release of the episode, Brown simply replied, "Nobody has talked to me, so probably not." 

Of course, that was then and now he's back in one role, there's no reason he could have the horns reapplied for another, right?

He was on the clock in John Wick: Chapter 4 as The Harbinger

As if Clancy Brown didn't have enough franchises covered, 2023 saw him step into the world of "John Wick: Chapter 4," in a small but perfectly molded role for the legendary actor. The messenger you wouldn't dare shoot, Brown played The Harbinger, who rocked up at the door of The Continental to break the bad news that John Wick was on the clock and even brought an unnecessarily large hourglass to prove it. While only making brief bookend appearances in the film, Brown verified every internet rumor regarding Keanu Reeves being as cool as you'd imagine.

Speaking to Collider before the passing of Lance Reddick, Brown revealed that he was in attendance for the last day of filming for the franchise's beloved concierge while chiming in with his own thoughts on the man behind Mr. Wick. "I was there for Lance's last evening, which was good. It was good because I really wanted to meet Lance and all the reporting about what Keanu is is absolutely true, absolutely right," he assured. "Keanu made it a point to come and celebrate Lance a bit in that last moment, which was really nice. Good guy. He's a good guy, that Mr. Reeves." Hear that, kids? The legends are true.