Warning: spoilers ahead for Ahsoka.
The first season of Ahsoka wowed Star Wars fans, with viewers devouring each of the eight episodes leading up to the conclusion.
However, one exchange stood out among spectators as maybe the most tear-jerking of all… This, of course, was the long-awaited reunion of Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) and her former Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen).
Director of photography Eric Steelberg said about the series, who collaborated with Hayden on the pivotal reunion scene at the conclusion of episode four.
As fans of the anime series Star Wars: The Clone Wars will recall, Ahsoka was Anakin’s Padawan pupil before his transformation into the terrible Darth Vader.
In Episode 4, the titular figure finds herself in the World Between Worlds, a mysterious, ethereal dimension where she is greeted lovingly by her nickname ‘Snips’ as Anakin appears behind her, despite having dead by this point in the Star Wars timeline.
While Hayden, 42, had previously reprised his role as Anakin in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series after starring in the prequel film trilogy, seeing him face to face with his old student was a unique treat for Clone Wars fans.
Speaking of the big reveal, Eric said: ‘That was a bit of a moment that was really exciting. Like how are we going to do this big reveal for the show? That was really fun to figure out.’
When asked whether it was emotional to film the interaction on set, he recalled: ‘Certainly the scenes I did with them together there was… Yeah, I would say there was emotion.
‘The crew was really excited to see Hayden because you’re bringing something from the films to the TV space, which was exciting. But beyond that, that’s a very important relationship that was established with Ahsoka in the animated series.’
Eric stressed that it would have been a ‘mistake’ if they were to make an Ahsoka series and not touch upon that relationship ‘in a meaningful way’.
‘Thankfully we didn’t make that [mistake],’ he said, before speaking about Dave Filoni, who co-created the character of Ahsoka with George Lucas, and how he weaved Anakin into the series.
‘Dave, I think he added him in just the right amount to the show, because it’s not about the relationship, but it is important to understand who she is, where she comes from, how he’s influenced her and how that translates to her relationship with Sabine,’ he stated.
‘Having him on set was great, he’s a lovely guy and a real pro and just having anybody from any of the films was really special.’
The cinematographer was in attendance at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in London, where he shed tears at the amazing response he received from his loyal fans.
‘I think all that was genuine. He seemed to really, really enjoy being back there, and doing something different and being part of a new story, continuing his story, but being a part of somebody else’s story. It’s fantastic,’ he said.
Bringing Anakin back for Ahsoka wasn’t as simple as tossing a screenplay to Hayden and Rosario and hoping for the best… There was also the World Between Worlds background to consider.
Given the emphasis on the ethereal realm in episode five, those who worked on episode four used that work as a foundation for their own installment.
‘We more or less adopted what they were going to be doing for the end of four. Then it was up to us about how we wanted to shoot the reveal and shoot the two of them,’ Eric shared.
The director of photography explained that sometimes, ‘certain things can work really well in animation’, but appear ‘kind of weird’ in live-action, so the crew worked hard to ensure that it had more depth and texture for the Ahsoka series.
‘I’m really excited with what they came up with. I think it worked really well,’ he added.
For the lighting of the World Between Worlds reunion, there was an ‘ongoing discussion’ about the light, asking questions including: ‘How do you make it moody without making it seem completely bizarre?’ and: ‘Hayden’s wearing black – how much do you need to see him against the black space?’
While it was a ‘challenging’ balance to find, they certainly managed it in the end.
When Star Wars fans talk about Ahsoka, they almost always bring up her co-creator Dave, whose notion for a character he once had in his head has now developed into a Force-wielding fighter admired by viewers in both animation and live-action.
Dave developed and created the Ahsoka series, as well as directing two of the eight episodes, so he got to stand next to someone portraying a character he created. A mind-blowingidea.
‘What I saw of Dave was just pure joy. I mean, if it’s a dream come true for me and other people like me… it’s just for him, beyond,’ Eric shared.
‘It’s really sweet to see somebody’s enjoyment of their quite literal dreams and imagination come to life.’
Ahsoka is available to watch on Disney Plus.