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Matt Lanter Dishes On Jupiter's Legacy And His Time Playing Anakin Skywalker - Exclusive Interview

Minor spoilers for "Jupiter's Legacy" follow.

Fans heard Matt Lanter voice "Star Wars" villain Anakin Skywalker for seven seasons of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." But now, we finally get to see Lanter play a live-action supervillain in Netflix's "Jupiter's Legacy." While he has a slew of Hollywood credits to his name — ranging from the short-lived but beloved Eric Kripke series "Timeless" to "The Mandalorian" and the indie film "Chasing the Rain" — fans are more than ready to see Lanter suit up as a villain.

Mark Millar's "Jupiter's Legacy" offered the perfect opportunity for Lanter to dust off his villainous voice and deep-dive into a new world filled with a rich mythology that spans almost a hundred years. Fans of "Timeless" will love the multigenerational flashback sequences, while "Clone Wars" fans will dig the similarities between Lanter's character George Hutchence/Skyfox and Anakin Skywalker. While Season 1 offers a taste of these characters and their backstories, Lanter has some ideas on where the show could head in a possible Season 2.

Looper spoke to Matt Lanter during an exclusive interview where he touched on everything from playing Skyfox on "Jupiter's Legacy" to what it was like saying goodbye to Anakin on "Clone Wars," what "Star Wars" series he'd love to be a part of, and how "Star Wars" could possibly create an animated Darth Vader series without James Earl Jones. And of course, he also talked about his dog Ahsoka — and if she lives up to her namesake.

A new age of superheroes

We've seen so many iterations of superhero shows and films, but this series is such a refreshing change from what's out there. I almost feel like it's sort of a mashup between "The Boys" and "Justice League." How do you think the series fits in with the superhero landscape, and what will superhero fans get from this show that maybe they're missing from others?

Yeah, well, I think what they'll get from this that's not there with others is just a massive scope and scale of this multi-generational ... I mean, we're literally talking about a story that's covering a span of over a hundred years. And right from the start, we see that. We're dealing with characters that we initially meet in 1929, then cut to 2021. So that's unique. Another thing that's unique is that we deal with, of course, Jupiter's legacy. We're dealing with the story of what do kids do if their dad is Superman, and how do they live up to that? I think that's different from what we've seen before.

The snark is strong with these Supers

As far as "The Boys," truthfully, I've not seen much of "The Boys," and I really want to. Of course, my guy Eric Kripke is one of the creators or producers. But I have seen a little bit of it, and I do know that it's very kind of snarky in tone. It's a totally different tone. It's really a totally different show altogether, I think. I think people might just lump them in the same category because some of the characters wear costumes and capes. It's a very, very different show. So definitely room for both.

And the other thing that makes this unique is that people that might not be familiar with Millarworld or the comics that Mark Millar has created, there's a whole new universe out here. I'm really excited about that. As a fan of these types of things, as a fan of the "Star Wars" universe, as a fan of "Harry Potter" and the world that's been created there, I'm a fan of escaping into this new unlimited potential world that we can escape into. So I'm excited for that as a fan. And I hope people will be able to do the same, and I think they will because we've got some really, really great, really cool characters and really great story that Mark Millar has established in the comics since 2013, actually.

Channeling your inner Batman

Definitely. So what drew you to this series, and what interested you most about your character?

Well, first, I mean, I think the obvious that I can say is it's a Netflix original, superhero, epic drama, massive scale. I mean, I'm talking massive production scale. And in the story. And the team behind it. I knew Mark Millar's stuff. I knew "Wanted" with Angelina Jolie, I know the "Kingsman" franchise, I know the "Kick-Ass" franchise. So the team behind it, Mark Millar, Steven Knight, Netflix, that's a team you want to be working with. So that was the initial thing. And then obviously the chance to be an actor and get to wear a superhero suit. I mean, that's cool too. But then diving in a little deep, you just realize how rich that this universe is with characters. And then for my character, George Hutchence, how complex he is. And the other characters too.

But I really particularly loved George. He's very Batman, Bruce Wayne-esque. He's this kind of rich playboy guy. There are a lot of layers to him, though. He's missing out on his relationship with his parents, who've passed away. You can tell he's got some things missing in his heart. He's got some hangups there. He didn't really grow up in the way that he'd planned or he'd wanted. So I think it makes him a loyal friend to Sheldon. I think he's got plenty of money. He gets the girls, gets invited to the parties, all that sort of stuff. But maybe when it comes to matters of the heart, life is a little more complicated for him.

A superhero story for the ages

I was getting some real "Timeless" vibes with all those incredible flashback sequences. And you've also dabbled in playing a villain before with Anakin's final arc as Vader in "Clone Wars." What will fans of your previous series enjoy most about this show, and what are the biggest similarities or differences? And did any of those previous characters sort of inform how you approached this role?

So you mentioned "Timeless" and "Star Wars." I think "Timeless" fans would really like this because "Timeless" was kind of that same epic kind of scope and scale, worldwide, historical. And in that same regard, it kind of feels epic like that. It's just a huge scale. And stakes are high. The world is affected by these characters' decisions. I think "Star Wars" fans will love it also because of the things I had mentioned earlier. There's an opportunity to ... Hey, look, I love Marvel, and I love the DC characters, but we've known them now for a long, long time. We know who Batman is. We know who Spider-Man is. There's not a lot of new things.

Yeah, definitely.

Fandom as an escape

And this is an opportunity for a brand new world. And so I think that as a fan of "Star Wars," I can appreciate and understand the potential for escapism into and discovery of a new world. I'm really excited for that. So I think they'll relate to that degree. And then you kind of asked specifically about the characters. Yeah, I think ... I always say I think there's a piece of me in all my characters I play, and I think there's a piece of the character that sticks with me. I think that's just sort of how it goes by default, the way for actors.

There are definitely a lot of similarities between Anakin and George. George is kind of labeled as the world's greatest supervillain. I think any good villain has justification and legit justification as far as they see. Even Anakin, I mean, aside from killing little kids, was justified in what he was doing. He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought everyone else around him was corrupt. I think that most of us, as humans, want to be good. We want to do the right thing. We want to be the stand-up person. And I think both of these guys, both of these characters, and Wyatt too, from "Timeless," they do some questionable things, but I think the heart ultimately is there. I think in George's case in "Jupiter's Legacy," I think he might get labeled by the outside world. He gets labeled. I don't know that he necessarily thinks of himself as a villain.

The Code: Savior or downfall?

It's interesting that you brought that up about Anakin because I was just thinking, there are a lot of similarities between the Jedi Council and sort of what they're doing in "Jupiter's Legacy."

In the Code.

With sort of forcing people into that villainous path by having these strict rules that are unwavering.

Yeah, absolutely. You're totally right. That's a great example. You know, the Jedi Council seems antiquated and just doesn't apply in every situation anymore. And the Jedi Council is so black and white. And I think Anakin realized that things aren't black and white. In fact, there are shades of gray, and that's exactly what's going on in "Jupiter's Legacy."

Sheldon Sampson, played by Josh Duhamel, really sees the Code, that is, the truth, the way, and the light. It is black, or it is white — good or evil. And I think George Hutchence sees shades of gray. I think he sees the opportunity for middle ground. And that just doesn't sit well with Sheldon. And I think then, obviously, if you're a fan of the comics at all, you know there are other outside forces, Walter, Sampson, and Brainwave, he's kind of manipulating things also to paint George in a specific picture. But look, that's all seasons to come, hopefully when we talk about George's fall from grace. He defects from the Union and becomes the world's greatest supervillain. That's in due time. Hopefully we'll get to see it.

Becoming a "supervillain"

Definitely. So your character has a really cool progression in the series, and his motivations are fairly ambiguous up to now. So if we get a Season 2, what areas of Skyfox's history and character would you most like to see develop?

So, right now, it is a big mystery as to ... He's got a kid named Hutch. And I would love to see more of ... Well, firstly, we don't really know where George is present-day in our first season. He's somewhere. But he's kind of in hiding or seclusion or something. So I would love to discover where he is. What is he doing? Why is he in hiding?

I would also love to know why he doesn't have communication with his kid. There's got to be a reason. He just kind of left him high and dry, but I wonder if there's a reason. I don't know. Maybe George didn't want to subject his kid to the same pressures that Sheldon Sampson has subjected his kids to now, and now they can't live up to that. Maybe George was smart enough to know, "Hey, he can never live up to the original superheroes." I don't know. Those are all great questions. And hopefully, we'll get to explore those next season.

A Super cast

Now that we've seen you play a live-action villain, is there a DC or Marvel villain that you'd like to play at some point?

[Laughs] You know what, I don't know. I'm always open to playing fun roles or ... Yeah. I mean, I don't want to say something because it's going to be all over the internet like "Matt Lanter wants to play Spider-Man!" I mean, yeah, if there's an opportunity, then I would love to explore any opportunity that might come, for sure. Yeah.

What was it like working with the "Jupiter's Legacy" cast?

Josh Duhamel's great. Wonderful dude. You would never know he's a movie star. He's just a normal, down-to-earth guy. I love that he, and I play best friends in the show. He's an easy guy to be a best friend with. We have just a stellar cast. Leslie Bibb, Ben Daniels. I mean, we've got so many people. We've got a young cast too that play our sons and daughters. And some of these guys are great and really give stellar performances. I'm just so proud of everybody.

But we've got a good group. We've got a good team, from the cast to Lizz Wolf and the costume department who make the super suits into their own characters, our production team, our producers, of course, all of our amazing directors and Mark Millar there at the top who created the whole thing. We have a really, really solid team. I know it sounds like a cop-out answer in a way, but we just really do, man. I'm so excited to possibly go back for Season 2 and just work with all these people again.

Super suits are not made for comfort

What was the biggest challenge you faced while filming the series, and what have you taken away from the experience?

Biggest challenge while filming. Okay. I'll give you two answers. One is, I didn't have to worry about it too much, but hopefully, I will have the opportunity next season — and that is playing the same character a hundred years apart that are probably very, very different characters, but at the same time still making it feel the same character. I think for George, we're going to see a massive arc from who we start to see him as into the present day, very different. Hopefully, we'll see that. And then ... I don't even remember what my second answer was going to be. What was your question again? [Laughs]

It was the biggest challenges and then what you've taken away from the series.

Okay. And then I was going to say, in a physical sense, the super suits look awesome, but they don't feel awesome. So I'm sure ... You're nodding your head. You've probably heard that before. They are definitely built to look freaking amazing, but they're not the most comfortable things. We've got layers of suits and fake muscles and all kinds of stuff. It feels like you're wearing about three wetsuits at one time. It's difficult to move. They're very tight, very hot, and very difficult to fight in and do stunts. So those are some of the challenges.

Along with that, though, you look at yourself for the first time, and it's cool. I mean, it's everything, we dream of being superheroes, and you feel just powerful. And then about 15 minutes go by, and you feel like you can't breathe. So that's the realistic part. But yeah, the suits really are really cool, and they really do play kind of their own character in a way. And especially fans of the comics are going to love them. I think Lizz Wolf did an amazing job of adapting them from page to screen, staying true to what they were in the comics, but just taking them to a whole new level.

The Gatsby of superheroes

From your perspective, what do you think Skyfox's motivations are?

What are some of his motivations? Well, I think when we meet him here in Season 1, he is heavily motivated by his relationship and his connection with the Sampsons and particularly Sheldon Sampson. That's kind of his only connection to family, things that are real. George is a guy that seems to have everything: all the money, all the ladies, everything he wants, all the parties. But I think when it comes to solid connection, human connection, I think that he lacks that.

And so I think that's why he holds that relationship with Sheldon so high. I think some of his motivations are being a loyal friend. I think it's just important to him. He just values that. Other than that, motivated to have fun [laughs]. He's motivated to party, motivated to have a drink and a smoke. And then, as far as present-day George, we don't really get to see much of him here in Season 1. So that's a question I can better answer in Season 2. Where is he, and what's most motivating him to stay hidden? I'm not sure yet.

Looking to Season 2

Is there anyone you'd like to see him have a few more scenes with next season? Hopefully, fingers crossed.

I love my scenes with Ben Daniels. He's such an excellent actor that anytime I get a chance to get on a set and play with him, it's just a gift for an actor. I love having the scenes with Josh Duhamel, too. I think that if you know the story where George eventually ends up defecting from the Union of Justice, there's that fall from grace — that split — I think the more scenes that Josh and I have as Sheldon and George strengthens that bond and that relationship and that loyalty to each other. And I think that's going to just make that fall from grace much stronger and much harder to watch, and much more powerful emotionally.

And then I've got to also say, I hope to have some scenes with Ian Quinlan who plays Hutch, my son in the show. I mean, he's such a talented actor. I didn't get to work with him. We really hadn't seen him, what he could do. I just think he was so entertaining to watch onscreen and so charismatic, and I think that George is kind of that same way. He's a kind of a charismatic guy. So I mean, it's my hope that when they're onscreen together, that it would be just really fun to watch. But I would love to explore that relationship with his son.

The future of Anakin Skywalker

So switching gears a bit, we know that Hayden Christensen has live-action Anakin in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" on lock, but "Clone Wars" originated the character Ahsoka on screen, so is there any chance we might get to see or hear you in the new "Ahsoka" live-action show or in "The Bad Batch"?

That's definitely a question for the Lucasfilm people. Not me. I try to answer something like that, and I'll get in trouble. [Laughs] I'll leave it to them. Ask Dave Filoni or somebody over there at Disney or Lucasfilm or something like that. I mean, I don't even think I need to say it. I mean, it'd be amazing to reprise Anakin as live-action, especially in the "Ahsoka" show. But I'm also, I kind of understand my place in the "Star Wars" universe, and I'm not jumping ship with animated Anakin because I love that guy. So yeah, you'd have to ask them. I mean, I don't know. Yeah.

We take those questions, and we're like, "We know we're not going to get an answer for this, but we have to try anyway."

Yeah, truthfully, I don't have an answer for you, honestly. And that's the honest answer — I don't have an answer for you. I mean, would I love it to happen? Yeah. It'd be so amazing to be able to reprise that live-action, but I'm not going to worry about that. I'm doing other things right now.

Becoming Vader

Sure. In a perfect world, is there a "Star Wars" project you'd really love to tackle as Anakin or someone else?

Well, I mean, really, I think that you sort of said it, there's a live-action "Ahsoka" show that seems like a really fitting place. But yeah.

I love the soft, slow-burn buildup of the final few minutes of "Clone Wars" that directly sort of contrasts the high energy of Anakin's "Revenge of the Sith" ending. What was it like filming that final "Clone Wars" scene when you actually embody Vader? And what was really required for you in that scene since it was mostly breathing?

I mean, what was required from me, obviously the technicality was not much. [Laughs] But I guess just in emotional presence in what was going on with the character at the time. People ask me all the time, "What do you like better? Do you like acting, or do you like voice acting?" And I'm like, "Voice acting is acting, I mean, at its core, it's acting." You have to bring an emotional presence to these characters and sometimes even more, even stronger, to be able to emote that with just your voice and not have your facial expression. So just the presence, being there with ... I mean, I obviously understood the significance at that moment, what that meant to Ahsoka, what it means to everybody, all those characters, what it means to Anakin, what it means to Obi-Wan. So it was a really special moment and pretty cool that I was able to be a part of that as well. And kind of shepherd that Anakin into Vader.

Goodbye for now, not forever

Right. What was sort of going through your head as you were saying goodbye to that character that you had spent so many years playing?

Yeah, it is sad. But I will say that we're always doing "Star Wars" projects. We're always doing games and shows and movies or whatever it is. I'd never really put Anakin down. I mean, we're constantly doing things, right? So it's not like I'm never voicing Anakin again. That character is living with me all the time now. And in the fandom too, people want to talk about "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," and they want to talk about Anakin all the time. Like for example, right now, the show ended, but we're talking about it.

And so I never quite put him down, and I actually love that. So though we might not be creating new episodes currently, I still feel a part of him. There's sadness in a way that I'm not there with my other co-stars, and we're not creating new "Star Wars" episodes of "The Clone Wars" for everybody. But he's still there. It's not like I've said goodbye forever. It's kind of like going to college. You're still the same person. You're just, you're graduating, and you're moving on to a new phase in your life, you know?

Princess Leia to Cad Bane

There are so many stories left to tell in the "Star Wars" universe. Which "Star Wars" characters would you love to see get their own series, either animated or live-action? Personally, I would love to see a Billie Lourd-voiced Princess Leia in Alderaan series. That's my dream.

Oh, cool. Yeah, that'd be amazing.

If we can make that happen? Laughs.

That'd be really neat. I don't see why it couldn't happen. I mean, at the very least, maybe in some sort of animation, I don't know. That's a great question. I mean, obviously, I want to see more Anakin. But beyond that, I think it'd really be cool to see a live-action Cad Bane.

Oooh, okay!

I love him. He's such a cool, gun-slinging, odd kind of character, but Cory Burton, who voices him, is incredible. I think that'd be cool to see onscreen. Yeah. I think that'd be my answer right now.

The galaxy is a little ruff

What made you decide to name your dog after Ahsoka? And is she anything like her namesake? I have to ask.

So my wife and I got the dog, and it was my wife's idea to have a small white Maltipoo puppy. Not the most masculine of dogs. So my input was the name, and we were right in the middle of "Star Wars," and I thought it was cool. She's going to be my new dog. She's going to be my little sidekick, you know? So that's why I thought that'd be cool to name her Ahsoka. She's my little sidekick. But very much like Ahsoka, she has definitely grown into her own personality. She's not my little sidekick. She's her own dog. She does whatever she wants to do, a little bit like Ahsoka in real life.

It's so funny because my mom got a dog a couple of years ago, and I asked to name the middle name. And she was like, "Are you going to name it something stupid after 'Star Wars'?" And I was like, "I am now." 


So his middle name is Wicket. And we dress him as an Ewok every year.


And she's sort of embraced it now, which I love.

I love that. That's so cool.

Maybe Vader someday later

I already know the answer to this, but would you be down to voice an animated Vader series if given the chance?

Oh gosh, are you kidding? Yeah. It'd be great. But I don't know what they would do. I mean, when we did ... There was a scene where Anakin's mask, or I should say Vader's mask, was ripped away, half, and we saw Anakin. And they layered my voice with James Earl Jones. So how do you move away from James Earl Jones?

I don't know, because that voice is so iconic with that character. So I'm not sure exactly what they would do or how they would do it. Gosh, it'd be a pain in the butt to do that for the entire series. But it would be cool if you heard James Earl Jones, but you also in moments, where they could tweak and play with things, where you could hear a little bit more of Anakin in moments. It would really bring a really deep human aspect to him, a depth to them that I think people might really appreciate, actually. Because I just think connecting Vader and Anakin a little bit more would be really, really neat.

Definitely. They aren't two separate characters. We think of them as two separate characters, but they are...

That's a really fun, nerdy "Star Wars" question that different people probably have different opinions on. Are they two characters? Is Anakin completely gone? And also, at what point, which I've been asked and have really contemplated myself, at what point is Anakin gone? So that would be a really fun kind of nerdy question to ask.

I feel like if he were totally gone, we wouldn't have been able to get him back.

That's what I think!

Luke wouldn't have been able to pull those heartstrings and make him turn back.

That's what I think. Yeah. I think you're right. I mean, he's obviously lost, but I think deep down, it's still there. Right. You're totally right. Or else there wouldn't be that redemption in the end. So it's in there somewhere.

The Jedi mindset

How has voicing Anakin enriched or changed your life as a person and then as an actor as well?

Well, I think "Star Wars" is about good and evil, and right and wrong, and light and darkness. And those are very basic human themes that all of us deal with on a daily basis. And so I do think I approach things sometimes, not necessarily with a Jedi mindset, but I think that it's sort of opened my eyes to that in a way, where you approach things from a good side, dark side. I think you sort of approach things from the temptation of the dark side is real, and once you kind of go there, it's really hard to come back. 

It's really hard to recover. It looks really appetizing, the dark side, but is there fulfillment in the dark side? That's the question. And those are things you can apply to all kinds of stuff in life. So yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think that's why "Star Wars" is so successful. I think people see that. People see that they're basic human stories. George Lucas has just taken them and spun them into a creative way of storytelling, but at its core, they're things that we all deal with as humans.

Just binge it

Definitely. Is there anything else about the show or any upcoming projects or anything that you want to talk about?

I think people should definitely tune in to "Jupiter's Legacy". It's a super binge-able show.

Oh, for sure.

It's eight episodes, but it goes quickly because you're having so much fun. We split our time in 1929 and the present day. So we're weaving in and out, so you never feel like you're stalled out or stale. The show just moves. It's fun, it's exciting. Lose yourself in a new universe and get to know these characters because I promise you they're going to be around for a while. I think five years from now, everyone's going to know that it's Millarworld, it's DC, and it's Marvel. So get to know these characters now, be the first on the train and have fun with it, man.

Do you have anything else upcoming that you want to tease?

Yeah, I mean, I've got a few, nothing that I can really tease. I've got some things. I'm supposed to be shooting a movie in Atlanta here pretty soon. Nothing really to talk about at this point, but I've got that. And then, like I said earlier, there are always Anakin things happening, there are always video games and specials and all kinds of stuff. So I'm keeping busy. Just keep looking out.

Everybody tune in. Go see the show today.

All eight episodes of "Jupiter's Legacy" are available to stream on Netflix.