Most actors have their own amusing anecdotes about the various audition processes they’ve gone through during the course of their acting careers and Ahsoka Tano voice actress Ashley Eckstein is certainly no exception.
During a recent Q&A at Emerald City Comicon 2016, Eckstein and fellow panellist Anne Convery (wife of Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels supervising director Dave Filoni) reminisced about the audition process for Anakin Skywalker’s snippy young Padawan and pointed out how close Eckstein actually came to missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become part of the Star Wars universe.
Convery: So, Dave (Filoni) comes home after auditioning all these people and says (mimicking Dave) “I think we found her”. “Well, what’s she like?” (Mimicking Dave) “Well, first of all, she’s possibly the most genuine, kindest person I’ve ever talked to”. And he wanted to bring that to Ahsoka’s character. (Mimicking Dave) “And also… she’s real snippy”.
Eckstein: *laughs* Well, you’re talking about the accent.
Convery: *laughs* The accent. I’m talking about the accent.
Eckstein: So, first of all, the character of Ahsoka was so top secret, um, I went into the audition thinking I was auditioning for Padmé. And, um, I’m usually pretty positive and optimistic but I almost didn’t go to the audition. I actually called my agent from the parking lot. I’d actually had five auditions that day. It was the last of five auditions, they were running an hour late, and they needed a voice match for Natalie Portman. And I kept on trying and trying and I just didn’t sound like Natalie Portman. And so I called my agent and said “Look, I’m just not right for this. You know, they’re running an hour behind. I just don’t think I should do the audition”.
And my agent said “You know what? You never know what could happen”. He said “Just wait and go in there”. And I’m so glad I did because I said my first line as Padmé and Dave cut me off. And he was, like, (mimicking Dave) “No, you don’t sound like Padmé. You sound too young.” He said “But… there’s this 14-year-old girl” and they weren’t even advertising for this part. And he’s like “But we want you to read for this character”. Um, and they ask me to do it in an Icelandic accent.
Convery: Can you imagine?
Eckstein: And I can’t. I can’t even do an Icelandic accent to this day. I was so bad at it. But somehow, somehow I got a call-back. They called my agent and they said “You know, we just really need her to practice her Icelandic accent”.
And so I went… I found, like, the top dialect coach in all of LA and spent, like, 4 hours at his house mastering an Icelandic accent. So I went back in to the call-back and I said the first couple of lines in a true Icelandic accent. And Dave stops me and he says (mimicking Dave) “No…we need you to do it more like an Icelandic accent”. And at that point, I’m just baffled and I don’t know what to do. Normally I would never talk back to the director but I didn’t know what to do. So I raised my hand and I said “I’m sorry but I am doing an Icelandic accent. And I don’t know what you want”.
Convery: And that was the moment he knew.
Eckstein: *laughs* That was the moment I got the part. So I ended up getting a call and I got the part. I was shocked and I was, like, “How? You know, my Icelandic accent was terrible”. And they said “No, they just want you to use your regular voice. I guess they liked you as you were in-between takes and not when you read the script”.
Convery: Yeah, that was a real audition.
Transcript by Team Ahsoka, based on this Emerald City Comicon 2016 Q&A video.