““Time flies,” Matt Lanter tells StarWars.com.
He’s been the voice of Anakin Skywalker for more than 10 years now. Prior to Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2008, Lanter had never done voice-over work in either animation or video games; he got his start in live-action. “I remember day one, going into the booth and auditioning for Anakin, and not even knowing it was Anakin,” Lanter says. “I remember all that pretty vividly.” Television audiences were immediately charmed by the bravado and charisma he brought to the role, and the critically acclaimed show went on to receive numerous awards and nominations over its original run, including a total of four Emmy Awards. Lanter’s Anakin will return to the small screen when the beloved series is revived on Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.
In February, the character will also join the roster of playable heroes in EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II. Since its launch in November of last year, Battlefront II’s received regular content updates pegged to events such as the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Most recently, developer DICE introduced a number of alternate clone-trooper appearances, like the 41st Elite Corps led by Master Yoda on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. The game’s Clone Wars additions are slated to continue with the introduction of the sinister General Grievous, played by sound designer Matthew Wood; James Arnold Taylor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi; and the Sith Lord Count Dooku, voiced by veteran actor Corey Burton. […]
For the 2008 Clone Wars feature, the late Christopher Lee reprised his role as Dooku one last time, while Burton played several other characters, including Ziro the Hutt. But Burton stepped into Lee’s shoes as the villainous count for the TV series. “I’ve always had a fairly easy time sounding like Mister Lee,” he says, suddenly becoming Dooku. “Because it was animated, they said to play him a little younger, a little more muscular, a little more of an action-based character, as opposed to the somber, quiet wizard. Although, throughout, he’s a very stoic, eloquent, and elegant character. He’s always gracious, always accommodating, while underneath is the ultimate evil: a manipulative monstrosity.”
“George Lucas and Dave Filoni both said, ‘Look, these characters are going to live in this world, so feel free to make them your own,’” Taylor recalls. “And so I’ve always tried to give kind of a hybrid of Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor in my version, as a nod to both of these wonderful actors that have played this character, as well. So he’s changed, but at the same time he’s stayed the same, because the sensibility of Obi-Wan Kenobi is that he’s the one true believer of the Force, and the Jedi, and the code of ethics that he has. So I keep it all in the same mindset, but the voice has changed a little here and there.” […]
One of Taylor’s favorite studio memories is a session for the 2005 Revenge of the Sith tie-in game. His director, David W. Collins, brought in a laptop containing closely guarded footage from the film: the final confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan on the volcanic planet Mustafar.
“We needed to duplicate that sequence for the game,” Taylor recalls. “And that was really the turning point for me playing the character, because Ewan McGregor does such an amazing job of giving these levels to his performance. He had this kind of rasp in his voice: ‘You were my brother, Anakin!’ And recreating those scenes was really emotional and fun, but it was also, I think, what locked everybody’s minds into the sense that, ‘Okay, we have our actor here that can portray Obi-Wan anytime we’re using him in a video game or animation.’ So it was really special to me.” […]
Battlefront II’s Clone Wars season is a fun way for fans to celebrate the return of the series, but for the actors it’s also an opportunity to get back into the spirit of their characters. On the way to his recording sessions, Taylor prepares by listening to audio tracks with all of Ewan McGregor’s lines from the prequel trilogy cut together, and he says we can expect plenty of familiar moments from both The Clone Wars and the live-action films when Obi-Wan arrives as a playable hero. (“Hello there,” indeed.)”
“You know, we all stay in touch, but we’re all Star Wars fans, too,” says Taylor. “So we wanted to see this story come to its conclusion in a way that I think really could please everybody, and I’m so grateful for Disney and Lucasfilm making that possible.” In the meantime, Grievous comes to Battlefront II later this month. We can expect Obi-Wan Kenobi in November, with Dooku and Anakin following suit in January and February, respectively.
“It is such a cool thing,” Taylor says.”