Star Wars can often feel culturally ubiquitous, but sometimes even the people operating in its space find themselves inside a world they have little experience with (as they should: Star Wars thrives on the perspectives of many, and that includes people unfamiliar with it!). But for Eman Esfandi, going back and acquiring that knowledge made his Star Wars role even more fun in hindsight.
Esfandi recently discussed his initial lack of Star Wars knowhow in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Even though the actor was dead set on bringing Ezra to life—revealing he had told his agents he felt destined to portray the live-action version of the Rebels character months before Lucasfilm even began auditioning the role—the actor didn’t actually catch up with the world of Star Wars until after he’d finished filming. “I wasn’t a Star Wars person before the show. I just didn’t grow up on it,” Esfandi told THR. “But after we shot the show, I inhaled all of it for six months.” That realization made Esfandi reflect on one moment in his Ahsoka performance in particular: the scenes where Sabine Wren reunites with her friend after decades (and a whole galaxy) apart, catching him up with everything that’s happened since the climax of Star Wars Rebels saw Ezra exile himself and Thrawn away to parts unknown.
“When Sabine was filling Ezra in, I also didn’t know much about it. Once I got to know everything, it just made that scene twice as funny,” Esfandi said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was how they filled Ezra in? That’s hilarious.’”
Of course, an actor doesn’t have to be deeply familiar with all the lore to play their part well—Esfandi did a pretty stellar job bringing an older Ezra to life in Ahsoka, regardless of his familiarity with the source material in that moment. If anything, that lack of familiarity works for the character: after all, Ezra was born the day the Republic became the Galactic Empire, and he vanished off of the face of the galaxy a year before the events of A New Hope. Now that we know he was literally in a whole other galaxy, he missed out on the bulk of what Star Wars is, with no way to catch up on it. But there’s also something deeply funny, and incredibly Ezra, about the thought of him “uh huh, yeah, uh huh”-ing his way through a quick recap of events by Sabine, only to learn the full extent of what happened during the events of, well, Star Wars after the fact, and finding it utterly insane.
Because it kind of is! Especially to someone like Ezra and his own loose connections to the people who would eventually become the movers and shakers of galaxy-changing events. The idea of Ezra watching archival holo-docs about the galactic civil war after his return home and learning that it ended with Ahsoka’s old master getting redeemed by his son—and had a son in the first place—who became the face of the Rebel Alliance in his absence alongside that senator’s daughter he met once, or that Palpatine, as far as he knew, never managed to do some dark side bullshit with the World Between Worlds, is very funny to me.