Ahsoka Tano rules the Star Wars universe. Since her debut in the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka has gone on to become one of the most popular characters in the franchise. The character began as a Padawan, training under the watchful eye of Anakin Skywalker. Her journey continued throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where the character grew stronger in the force. She survived Order 66, and even went on to fight Darth Vader in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. Now Ahsoka will be starring in her own live-action Disney+ series, set to premiere this August.
Ahsoka is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars franchise, but it wasn’t always this way. In 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in theaters. The animated film contained the first episodes of the television series, introducing audiences to Ahsoka Tano for the first time. Early reactions to Ahsoka Tano weren’t kind. Some viewers didn’t like the idea of Anakin having a teenage sidekick, and others felt her presence broke the canon of the movies.
Recently Ashley Eckstein joined her Star Wars: The Clone Wars co-stars on the main stage at the 2023 C2E2 convention. The actress reflected on the early reactions to her character, and how she dealt with it. “It’s been quite the journey., it really has. From the very beginning where she was hated. And one thing to note, we were always a season ahead of what you all saw. We were well into season two by the time you all saw the first movie, so I knew how far she had come.”
“When it came out, so many people hated Ahsoka. First, I sobbed into my cheesecake,” Eckstein confessed. “But then I took a day to have a pity party. Then, I was like, no – this character is amazing. And everyone else is going to see what I see if they just give her time. And so, I asked fans for their patience. I said look, no character is perfect in the beginning, and if they were, then they’d be really boring. So please go on this journey with her.”
Eckstein’s experience is similar to what other Star Wars actors have faced. Ahmed Best, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, and Moses Ingram have all spoken about the negative comments they’ve received for their roles in the franchise. However, Eckstein added that she finds the Star Wars fandom to be one of the most positive fandoms out there, specifically citing the charity work done by fan groups such as the 501st Legion.
Eckstein’s faith in the viewers paid off, and fandom embraced Ahsoka. “I think the most important thing for me personally is to see and hear all of the stories of how Ahsoka has been changing lives, and that’s when things really changed for me, because not only did she change my life, but when you all share your stories with me about how she’s changed or saved your life, that sticks with me, and it’s changed me. And I just want to say thank you for trusting me with your stories and sharing them with me, and I will forever strive to be a real-life Ahsoka Tano however I can.”
Eckstein continues to voice Ahsoka in animated Star Wars projects, while Rosario Dawson plays the character in live action. Although Eckstein won’t be playing the character in the upcoming Disney+ series, she told attendees that she was able to visit the set, and she loves Dawson’s portrayal of the character. The force is strong with Ahsoka Tano, and she’s come a long way from her Clone Wars beginnings.