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Voice Of Anakin On What It's Really Like Working With George Lucas - Exclusive

When Matt Lanter took on the voice role of Anakin Skywalker for Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2008, he embraced the legacy of a decades-old character who forever changed the course of film history. That's a lot of pressure, but Lanter was up for the task.

While Hayden Christensen was fresh off of his stint as Anakin in the prequels, the animated Clone Wars movie and subsequent TV series allowed fans to look deeper into the Jedi-turned-Sith Lord. Like Christensen, Lanter got the best of both worlds during his time as Anakin, following the rebellious Jedi's descent to the Dark Side and his tumultuous transformation into Darth Vader.

Lanter started his Star Wars journey with George Lucas at the helm of the franchise, staying with the series through Disney's acquisition and later dipping his toes into the live-action waters of The Mandalorian. Looper spoke to Matt Lanter during an exclusive interview about his work in the remarkable new indie film, Chasing the Rain. We took the opportunity to have the actor dish on all things Clone Wars, what it was like working with George Lucas, and whether he'd be game to play a live-action Anakin someday.

The man, the myth, the Star Wars legend

It's been a minute since Lanter worked with George Lucas during the original Clone Wars run before Disney bought Lucasfilm, but the actor only has nice things to say about his former boss. "George is an awesome guy. Super creative, very soft-spoken, and shy."

Of course, someone as iconic as Lucas needs a workspace befitting a Jedi. After the initial success of Star Wars, the filmmaker created Skywalker Ranch near San Francisco to serve that purpose. The ranch features gems like the man-made "Ewok Lake," a barn secluded enough to make Luke Skywalker jealous, and a full-blown fitness center, in addition to its Skywalker Sound facility and other technical perks.

Lanter reveals that he had his own experience at the sequestered ranch. "I did go up to Skywalker Ranch before I started recording and I walked into [Lucas'] office, and he was sitting there, and he goes, 'Anakin.' I'm like, 'Whoa, that's great.'"

The actor is the first to admit that he wasn't always the major Star Wars buff he is today. "Truthfully, I wasn't as huge of a fan of Star Wars at that time as I am now," he says. "So it would have been exceptionally intimidating to be sitting in front of him [now]. But at the time, it really wasn't." Of course, Lanter knew the significance of the moment. "I mean, at the time it was just, I was like, 'Okay, yeah. I mean, obviously, I know who you are.' It was great, but I wasn't nervous. And it was just, it was great."

Lucas was as deeply involved with the story as fans have come to expect. "All of our stories came through Dave [Filoni] and through George," Lanter explains. "George was in there giving notes, coming up with new story ideas. So what's really unique — and maybe people don't really realize — is we were the last Star Wars project to really be from George alone. So kind of a cool thing." And what a way for Lucas to send off the franchise he spent decades finely crafting.

From animation to live-action

We're starting to see all kinds of live-action projects pop up on Disney+, from The Mandalorian to the upcoming Ahsoka and Obi-Wan Kenobi series. While Christensen is reprising the role of Anakin for Obi-Wan Kenobi, fans would love to see Lanter play Anakin in some capacity on Ahsoka. We asked Lanter if he'd be game to play a live-action Anakin, and we weren't disappointed.

"I mean, yeah. To play Anakin live-action would be a dream come true. I think Hayden Christensen has that locked down — and he should. And I mean, he's Anakin on-screen," Lanter adds. 

But hey, if Star Wars has taught us anything, it's to keep hoping. And while fans have yet (if ever) to see Lanter play a live-action Anakin, he did have a cameo in the debut season of The Mandalorian as a New Republic Soldier. As he went on to tell us, there's just something about being able to interact with (and break) a set that makes it that much more special.

Breaking sets and taking names

"The Mandalorian was great," Lanter says. "Dave [Filoni] called me up and just said, 'Is this something you'd want to do?' And I said, 'Are you kidding me?!' Like, 'Get down there and unlock the set for me so I can go play,'" he jokes. "And no, it was great. I mean, it was a really, really unique experience. Not that many people get to be on a Star Wars live-action set, and so to be on the set was... I was like a kid in a candy store being a fan of Star Wars." That's really the dream, isn't it?

Things weren't all smooth sailing for the actor, though. "I had the scene where I — spoiler alert — I died, and I had to fling myself back on the control panels and you know, the Star Wars ships, there's like thousands of lit-up buttons," he recalls. 

"And I did it [in] like one take, and the set builder came up, and he was like, 'Hey man, you're going to have to not touch that stuff.' And I'm like, 'What do you mean? I'm supposed to be thrown into the control panel in a deathly way. I've just had a knife piercing my heart!' And he was like, 'Yeah, don't do it.' Because I was just a guest in there for two or three days, I wasn't a series regular. So these guys were like, 'Listen, I don't know you. Don't destroy my set.' And I did [destroy it]. I cracked one of the whole control panel things." 

Cue an overly dramatic Skywalker-style "Nooooooooo!" 

Star Wars fans enamored with Anakin's emotional struggle between light and darkness will love Lanter's touching new film, Chasing the Rain. Like Anakin, the character of Eric faces setbacks that could define him if he doesn't rise above them. Fans can see if Eric allows fear to lead him to the Dark Side by watching the film, available now on VOD. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the entire animated series are available to stream on Disney+.