Watch Dee Bradley Baker voice all the Star Wars: The Bad Batch clones
Star Wars: The Bad Batch (TV Series)
Ladies and gentlemen, the hardest working man in show business! As the voice of the clones — allllllll the clones — on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Dee Bradley Baker certainly had his hand…er, mouth full on the animated series, but that is nothing compared to his next task.
On May 4th (natch), Disney+ will be launching Star Wars: The Bad Batch. A Clone Wars spin-off, Bad Batch will tell the story of Clone Force 99, an elite unit of "defective clones with desirable mutations." While the clones on Clone Wars were often at second billing status to the Jedi characters like Anakin and Ahsoka, now Baker's voice will be front and center as he not only continues to play all the regular clones (or "regs"), but now has to give life to the stars of the show: Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and the group's latest addition, Echo.
How does he do it? Check out the video above to learn Baker's secret for giving each character his unique sound while actually watching him change voices on the fly. And read on to find out the Bad Batch voice that gave him the most trouble, and which member of Clone Force 99 is his personal favorite.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You already voiced a lot of characters on The Clone Wars, you're used to that, but now it's all clones all the time. What is that like voicing so many prominent characters for each episode and making each of them sound similar yet distinct?
DEE BRADLEY BAKER: The thrill of working on this show kind of comes down to a two-fold thrill. The thrill number one is being a kid who loved Star Wars. "I've got my picture of me as a Jawa in 1977 in my Jawa costume." So to be a part of this universe is a thrill personally to the little kid in me. And secondly, just as an actor, as a voice artist, to get thrown a kind of a project like this, where the challenge is to jump between all of these different characters in the case of the Clones, who have subtle gradations between how they're characterized, to the Bad Batch being more pronounced differentiation between these guys.
And then carrying whole scenes, whole episodes. Now a whole series. I mean, it's a kind of an artistic challenge and an artistic stretch that is gratifying, and thrilling. And I don't think that I'll ever see anything like this. It's not something that a voice actor gets thrown. It's a very unusual challenge to be thrown into it. And that's the fun of it. That's the twofold gratification for me of doing this is it's both. It's fun for the little kid in me, and it's a great workout blast for the voice actor in me as well. Like no other project.
So give me your take on each of the Bad Batch members, how you see them, and what you do to show off their personality through your voice for each of them.
Yeah. Well, Hunter, it's closer to your basic Clone voice, but there's also a carefulness to how he talks. And it's also got a covered sound to it like that. And then Tech is very precise. And everything is easy breezy for Tech. Nothing is a big deal and it's all just sort of water off a duck's back, so to speak. If ducks existed in the Star Wars universe.
And Wrecker, Wrecker's just like a big kid. He's honest, he's immediate, unfiltered. And he's great fun because of it. He makes me laugh. I love Wrecker. And Crosshair, Crosshair is like a coiled snake. He's like waiting with his shooting device to pick things off one by one. And it might be you if you get in his way or he doesn't like you.
And then Echo. Echo's closer to the regular Clone voice, but there's a grumpiness to him because he's also not part of this odd group. He used to be a reg, but now he's half-human, half-machine. And he's trying to find his way in with all this group. And so he's a little bit at odds with that. With the weird decisions, they often come up with. So that's kind of my nickel version of what differentiates these Bad Batch guys.
I didn't really think about that, the way you had to sort of change Echo's voice from Clone Wars to now. Because of what he went through before, you have to alter it a little bit.
The way I think of it is this: You know when you go home for Thanksgiving and you become a different person? It's like if you set yourself in a different group of people you can become a different person yourself because of how you choose or are made to fit within that dynamic and how that's playing out.
And so, before you go home for Thanksgiving, versus when you're in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, that can be two very, very different people. And I think that might be how it worked out for Echo. He was saved at the end of Clone Wars, and he was kind of vulnerable and broken, and kind of frail. But then he found his armor and he found his footing and his ability. And then he found this new group, and he's now part of this new company. And this is his version of being a part of it.
I imagine, as a voice actor, sometimes you immediately get a voice, other times you have to work a little harder to find it. Who was the hardest one to nail and find the right voice for in this group?
Oddly, I think of these, the hardest one to nail, I think might've been Hunter. The others suggest a more pronounced deviation from the basic core Clone voice, which I kind of think of as Rex. Captain Rex. But with Hunter, there's a smokiness, and in terms of the pace, and the level of heat of his character. It's always very contained, and cool, and covered like that. And that keeps him separate from Rex, or from Echo, who's a little gruffer and a little grumpier.
It's amazing the way, on the fly, you can change the voices on the fly so naturally. So how do we record the episodes? Do you go through and record all of Hunter's lines, and say all of Wrecker's, and then Tech's, and so on? how does that work?
No, we go scene by scene, and we go straight through the scene. If Wrecker's yelling, I might do the Wrecker yelling, I might say that towards the end of the session. But otherwise, we just go scenes straight through.
You literally are jumping between voices on the fly like that?
Yeah, because they're different. The thing is, I don't feel like I'm doing this. I don't feel like it's me. I feel like these are different people who are very distinct, and I can see them, and I know them, and I just switch to being each of them. But they're different. They're not me. They're somebody else. And so, another way I look at it, it's like jumping from rock to rock on a stream. The rocks are very defined. They're very clear. And I land on that rock, and then I can just jump back and forth between them. Once I get used to, okay, there're rocks, I'm going to be safe. I know how to get my footing on these, and I can just jump back and forth between the rocks and the stream is how it feels.
Finally, who's your favorite member of the Bad Batch and why?
I like Wrecker. I like that he blows things up, and he's strong, and he's just so far from who I am. He's this big, strong, tough, unfiltered, unblocked, kind of happy-go-lucky, banging things up kind of a guy. And I wish that I were that strong, and that big and all that. But I'm not.