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What it's like to be a Star Wars voice actor - Exclusive

By this point, Dee Bradley Baker has played more Star Wars characters than anyone else. See, over on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is currently airing its seventh and final season on Disney+, he plays the clones. All of the clones. It doesn't stop there, either. As the de facto voice of the Republic's clone army, Baker has also lent his talents to The Clone Wars' sequel series, Star Wars Rebels, video games like Jedi: Fallen Order, and plenty of other Star Wars tie-ins, in which he also plays characters like the bounty hunter Bossk and the Ewok Wicket.

That's a lot of Star Wars, but for Baker, being part of the sprawling Star Wars universe marks the fulfillment of a childhood dream. "There's nothing else that I love like I loved Star Wars, except maybe Planet of The Apes, when I was a kid," Baker tells Looper. "I watched it all summer long, the second summer that it was re-released. And so, this is a universe that I dreamed of being a part of the creation of."

Baker has literally hundreds of credits to his name, but he says his love of Star Wars makes his Clone Wars work particularly special. "I was going to send George Lucas, when I was a kid, some drawings that I had of aliens and creatures because I wanted to make aliens and creatures," Baker remembers, "and I was too afraid to send it to him. And now, here I am in the middle of Star Wars, being a part of all these great, fun shows."

The actor really gets to flex his creative muscles on The Clone Wars, too. While the clones are loosely based on Temuera Morrison, who played the clones' genetic template, Jango Fett, in Episode II, Baker isn't doing an impression. "Our goal was not one of fidelity to the prequels. That was clearly the reference point and the starting point. But where it took us became its own thing," Baker explains.

That's true of the clones, and it's true of the other characters, too. "I think James [Arnold Taylor]'s Obi-Wan became his Obi-Wan. It started closer to the reference but it was his thing," Baker says. The Clone Wars' Anakin, who is voiced by Matt Latner, is even further from the source material. "Matt... took the character and the voice in a very different direction," Baker says. "At first, they weren't sure if that was going to read okay or if that was going to be jarring. I think it worked beautifully."

For Dee Bradley Baker, it's all clones, all the time

Of course, Baker faces a number of challenges that his Clone Wars co-stars don't. For one, while the clones look and sound the same, they have different personalities. Baker must ensure that each clone is unique and easily identifiable without deviating too far from the template. In addition, many scenes in The Clone Wars feature multiple clones, meaning Baker is often his own scene partner. Sometimes, he's the only actor in an episode.

"It's really interesting and really fun and actually scary," Baker says, before noting that all of his work starts with the script. "The script will usually lean a character one way or another. And then I map that out with [executive producer] Dave Filoni or whoever is in the booth so that we have a tone of authority or of age or of swagger or whatever you want to pin on that clone."

From there, Baker breaks the clones down into one or two adjectives — or, occasionally, just a symbol — and gets to work. To Baker, it's not hard to keep all of the clones straight. "They feel like different people to me," he explains. "Because you have those specific modes defined within you, you can jump from character to character like you're jumping from rock to rock in a stream."

As an actor, Baker prefers when the rest of his castmates are in the booth, but he does enjoy the unique challenge of bringing the all-clones episodes to life. "It's like playing Dungeons and Dragons by yourself," Baker says. Early on in the process, Baker says he would record each clone's lines separately, but these days he just reads the script straight through. "To do an entire 22-minute episode that's just like 90 percent me talking to myself, there's just nothing like that. It's very odd."

Naturally, when it comes to the clones, Baker has a few favorites. "I love Rex because he endured it and he made it all the way to Endor," Baker says, "but I also really love Cut Lawquane because he's a dad.... I really like 99, he's a unique, heroic one. I like Fives just because it's such a tragic and heartbreaking story."

Even for an actor known for playing creatures and animals, bringing the clones to life is a weird gig, but Baker enjoys it regardless. "I don't think I'll ever see anything like that again in my life, in my career," he says. "I mean, there's nothing to compare it to."

Why The Clone Wars' final season is so special

Baker's talents were on full display in The Clone Wars' Bad Batch storyline, which opened the show's seventh and final season. The four-episode arc introduced viewers to Clone Force 99, a four-man squad with genetic mutations that give each member of the team special skills and unique personalities. It's a great showcase for Baker, but it's special for another reason, too.

See, the Bad Batch plot line was originally conceived during The Clone Wars' first run, which lasted from 2008 to 2012. That was before George Lucas sold Star Wars and Lucasfilm to Disney. During that time, Lucas was intimately involved with The Clone Wars, and he actually created the Bad Batch himself.

"There's something special about the Bad Batch arc for me, because this is the end of George Lucas' direct, hands-on influence with the creation that he started back in the '70s," Baker says. "It was the end of an era, the end of a guy who is both the creator and the owner of the creative engine. That just doesn't exist. There's nothing like that."

Getting to be a part of Lucas' final Star Wars story is a big deal for a lifelong fan like Baker, although he probably won't get a chance to tell Lucas himself. Despite all of the time he's spent in the Star Wars universe, Baker has yet to have a real conversation with the man. "He said hello to me, I think, twice and that was it," Baker says, laughing. "Can you imagine? I've been in so much of his universe, but I've just been able to say hello a couple of times and that's it."

New episodes of The Clone Wars' seventh season drop every Friday on Disney+.