Lucasfilm’s Executive Creative Director Dave Filoni has recently shed more light on the upcoming antagonist in the Ahsoka series, Grand Admiral Thrawn, suggesting that the character will have a more prominent role in the Star Wars universe. Filoni’s comments, which were featured in the summer issue of Empire, indicate that Thrawn—portrayed by actor Lars Mikkelsen—will serve as a pivotal character during the New Republic era.
When asked whether he viewed Thrawn as the primary antagonist of this period, Filoni unequivocally confirmed this notion. He went on to elaborate on the distinctive characteristics and origin of Thrawn, contrasting the character with other well-known villains in the Star Wars universe, such as Darth Vader.
“Definitely, in my eyes. When Timothy Zahn wrote ‘Heir To The Empire,’ Thrawn became this very iconic villain, because he was different than anything we’d seen before,” Filoni explained. “He wasn’t another helmet-wearing, lightsaber-wielding bad guy, you know? There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like Vader, because it is so iconic.”
He further emphasized the uniqueness of Thrawn’s character, highlighting how Timothy Zahn, the author of the Thrawn trilogy, dared to venture beyond the familiar template of the Star Wars villain.
“But the boldness that Tim had was to make somebody that wasn’t like that, that didn’t have those abilities, but could fight in a different way. In the words ‘Star Wars,’ the ‘war’ part of it — him being a Grand Admiral, a leader, a military strategist, a Moriarty archetype, someone that will out-think you, out-strategize you — that really resonated. He’s a critical player in this time period. We’re fortunate to have that character, and fortunate to have Lars [Mikkelsen] playing him.”
Thrawn, the brainchild of Zahn, was introduced in the 1991 novel “Heir to the Empire” as a Grand Admiral who rose to power in the wake of the Emperor’s death. Filoni’s description suggests that Thrawn’s strength lies not in his physical prowess or mystical powers, but in his strategic acumen and leadership abilities, making him a formidable opponent in a universe that is often defined by epic lightsaber battles and Force abilities.
Thrawn’s unique character traits appear to offer a fresh take on the classic Star Wars villain, providing a new dimension to the conflict in the New Republic era. The fact that Lars Mikkelsen, known for his nuanced performances, will be embodying this character adds to the anticipation surrounding Thrawn’s introduction in the Ahsoka series.
The decision to portray Thrawn as the “big bad” in this era is not only a testament to the character’s popularity and significance but also speaks volumes about Lucasfilm’s intent to explore new narrative arcs and character dynamics in the Star Wars universe.
Filoni’s comments have undoubtedly heightened expectations for the upcoming Ahsoka series and the role that Thrawn will play. They also hint at the potential for Thrawn to become an even more central figure in the Star Wars universe going forward.