Executive producer Dave Filoni is one of the foremost experts in the Star Wars expanded universe — the books and games that filled in the blanks in between, and far beyond, George Lucas’ movies. All that backstory was later discarded to clear way for the new films, but Filoni has been gradually bringing pieces of it back on the Disney XD TV show. Image Credit: Lucas Films Ltd.
With the Season 3 trailer for Rebels revealed at Star Wars Celebration in London, he reintroduced one of the most significant characters to ever emerge from the Expanded Universe: Grand Admiral Thrawn, a sapphire-hued, red-eyed Imperial officer in a crisp white uniform, who cobbles together the remains of the Empire after the deaths of Vader and the Emperor.
Thrawn was created by author Timothy Zahn, who made him the central villain in a trilogy of books published in the early 1990s that picked up the story of Han, Luke, and Leia after the events of Return of the Jedi.
“You couldn’t have grown up a Star Wars fan without encountering Thrawn in Heir to the Empire,” Filoni said. “It was a dark time when there weren’t any more movies, and it blew our minds that there could be more.”
A member of the Chiss species, Thrawn was one of the few non-human Imperial officers — distinguished by his intellect and ruthlessness. Although his rise to power took place after Jedi, he now occupies the timeline before the original 1977 movie, since Rebels focuses on the building of the uprising that would eventually topple the Empire.
He’ll be voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads, who is coincidentally co-starring in Rogue One as Jyn Erso’s father. Filoni said he imagined their Christmas will include a lot of Star Wars talk.
Zahn appeared via pre-recorded video to thank Filoni for bringing back the character and announced that he’s busy working on a new Star Wars novel, titled — of course — Thrawn.