As covered by KenJac yesterday, the teaser for Ahsoka dropped at Star Wars Celebration, but we only got a POV shot of main villain Grand Admiral Thrawn from behind. There was no telling who could be playing him. Speculation swirled that perhaps Dave Filoni and Lucasfilm would stunt cast an A-list actor for the iconic role.
...But nope. In the end, it was an Occam's razor scenario. Lars Mikkelsen voiced Thrawn in the Rebels animated series and, like Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, is making the jump to live action.
I won't spoil the end of Rebels and a lot of the events from that show, because it's definitely worth the watch. I know, if you're a grown-ass adult you might be thinking, "PSSSSH an animated show? What are you, like, five years old?"
To which I say: No. And give it a shot, because it's truly some of the best Star Wars content ever put out in any medium. There are many reasons why Filoni has essentially been handed the keys to the galaxy alongside Jon Favreau. Rebels is a big one.
Mikkelsen's menacing, calculated vocal delivery when he played Thrawn in Rebels was such a treat. You never quite know where his allegiances ultimately align, but he's for sure part of the Empire and will be instrumental in the rise of the First Order.
In case you need a bit of backstory on why Thrawn is such a big deal, there's the video above but I'll do the broad strokes in text form.
Back before George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars to Disney, there were a whole lot of not-officially-canon materials in the form of novels and comic books that comprised what was called the "Expanded Universe", now known as "Legends" continuity. Although all those were rendered non-canon, plenty of story and character elements have been pulled from the EU/Legends — including Grand Admiral Thrawn.
As Filoni explains, the initial EU Thrawn trilogy written by Timothy Zahn blew the minds of everyone who was yearning for more Star Wars content in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace.
In this Ahsoka teaser, Rosario Dawson's titular character literally refers to Thrawn as "heir to the Empire", which is the title of Zahn's first novel. During the Disney Star Wars era, Zahn has written not one, but two canonical trilogies of books about Thrawn. However, it wasn't until Filoni came from the top rope and introduced him in Rebels that Thrawn made his proper, canonical debut.
An extended trailer was shown on Saturday that featured a full-on look at Thrawn. Unfortunately, Disney is gatekeeping that footage from the general public for now.
In addition to running the Ahsoka show, Filoni is directing a live-action movie that'll serve as the climax and conclusion of the overarching Disney+ series narrative, which kicked off with The Mandalorian. In the brief clip below, he discusses pulling from the EU/Legends, and Thrawn figures to be the primary antagonist of that film.
I've always thought The Mandalorian's Moff Gideon has been serving Thrawn the entire time. Guess we'll find out soon enough if those two are in direct communication or are allies, or if they're part of different pro-Imperial factions. Frankly Mando Season 3 has been kind of a mess so far, yet there are two episodes left, so I still have hope that Gideon's motivations and ultimate agenda will come into clearer focus.
I'm sure the Star Wars YouTube channel will have the Ahsoka panel up in full at some point later today. For now, enjoy the teaser below — and celebrate the news that Lars is back!!