ENTERTAINMENT

Rosario Dawson explains how ‘Ahsoka’ was inspired by Gandalf

The upcoming Star Wars show found inspiration in another iconic fantasy franchise.

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Rosario Dawson on ‘Ahsoka’

Ahsoka Tano may be a major player in the Star Wars galaxy — but she also has a lot in common with another iconic fantasy character.

The upcoming Disney+ show Ahsoka (out Aug. 23) will see the live-action return of everyone’s favorite Togruta warrior and former Jedi Padawan, with Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Ahsoka. The show picks up after the events of Return of the Jedi — and after the events of the animated Star Wars Rebels finale, where Ahsoka, clad all in white, returned from the ethereal Force dimension known as the World Between Worlds.

In EW’s recent Ahsoka cover story, Dawson explained that she and Ahsoka series creator Dave Filoni were particularly interested in how Ahsoka has grown from young Padawan to accomplished leader — but she still has more to learn. Specifically, she and Filoni found themselves drawing parallels between Ahsoka and Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

“In the animation, you saw her go to the white, but what I loved is the idea that there was even another level to her,” Dawson explained in an interview conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike. “Dave and I talked a lot about Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the White — talking about that transition and how she’s someone very capable and excellent and looked up to as a leader, but she still has levels of development to go.”

Ahsoka and Gandalf

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, Ian McKellen as Gandalf

| Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.; Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett

In fact, Dawson added, that constant push for self-growth is part of why she connected with Ahsoka in the first place. “That push for more, that desire for more, that challenge that she pushes herself to is okay — and it’s actually remarkable and important,” the 44-year-old actress says. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve been drawn to her over the years, the fact that even with her excellence, she continues to push further.”

When the series begins, Ahsoka is essentially alone, wandering through the galaxy in search of the villain Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen, reprising his voice role from Rebels). She’ll later reunite with familiar allies like rebel general Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo).

“She seems very lone wolf, and we kind of felt that coming off of Rebels, where she works with all of these different folks, but she’s really on her own in a lot of ways,” Dawson added. “What I really liked about this [show] is that we get to flesh that out a little bit more. We get to see what that’s like for her in this position and the path she’s choosing as a sort of ronin, just this warrior on her own. And I really loved that we get to rekindle some of these relationships that she’s had from her past.”

For more from Dawson, listen to the latest episode of EW’s Star Wars podcast Dagobah Dispatch. Ahsoka will debut Aug. 23 on Disney+.

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