With the final season of Star Wars Rebelspremiering next week, I was fortunate to get the chance to have a good chat with Tiya Sircar (who I’m happy to say is just as nice and awesome as you’ve heard). While much of our discussion dealt with the final season, we also discussed her favorite aspect of the show over the years, what makes Sabine so special to fans, her hopes for the character’s future, and a bunch of other neat tidbits of information.
Below, you’ll find the transcription of our talk with my questions in bold, and her answers clearly marked:
So, when did you find out this was going to be the final season of Star Wars Rebels?
Tiya Sircar: I have known for quite some time. You know, of course, we had to keep it all very secret until Dave [Filoni] made the announcement, so that was difficult. But…we knew the entire time we were recording season four. Dave was very upfront with us.
Ah okay, so you did know before you started recording your lines for the final episodes?
TS: Yeah, Dave did us a solid and told us what we were in for before we started into season four; so we knew what was coming.
When he sat you all down to let you know, what was your initial reaction to the news?
TS: I was shell-shocked, I had no inkling whatsoever. I just kinda…I guess it was, wishful thinking, or whatever, but I thought we’d be doing Rebels indefinitely [laughs]. I would have liked to keep doing them, and keep telling the story, and doing this character.
I was definitely taken by surprised, but once Dave…You know, he kind of talked me off the ledge and walked me through it. He told me that this was not a surprise to them. This was always planned, the story that we’re telling, to be four seasons long. He told us when we needed to know, which was right before we went into recording season four.
You know, I was shocked, but I’m happy that we get to end our show on our terms, and tell the story we want to tell. That’s a luxury a lot of shows don’t get, so in that respect–even though in an ideal world we’d keep doing these forever and ever–to be able to end on our terms is such a gift.
Being that it’s the last season, and I know you probably can’t get into too many specifics, what are you looking forward to fans seeing most for your character?
TS: Well, I feel like I have known Sabine for a long, long time. I feel intimately familiar with the character, but I’m so happy that I feel like I know her so much better now in season four. Especially at the end of season three we learned so much more about her past, and going into season four you’ll sort of see what I [Sabine] had told you guys about in the last season. We actually get to see that in action. Without going into it, I feel excited that the audience is going to know her on a deeper level and really understand her even better.
She’s just a fuller person now. I always thought she was wise beyond her years; I forget that she was a teenager when we started this show. I feel like those circumstances she was put in when she crosses paths with the Darksaber kinda forced her to really mature in a real way and become the person she was always meant to be.
That, to me, is super exciting as we move forward and show you how our story ends. I feel like she’s a far more complex, fleshed out character and somehow more relatable to me now, because we get a full picture of who she is.
Like you mentioned, Sabine had a big emotional arc last season, and over the years her character has seen a significant amount of growth. Obviously fans have really responded to Sabine and show that through tons of art and cosplay…Why do you think her story resonates with people so much?
TS: I’m so glad that people like her as much as I do! I think she’s awesome and I feel it’s an honor I get to play here. The more we see that she’s not perfect, that she’s flawed, and has these struggles that everyone has…So many people can relate to this idea that she’s torn in different directions. She’s got these family obligations and family drama. I mean, who can’t relate to that?!
Now that we know more about her and seen her be vulnerable and be a “real” person, she’s not just this strong warrior who’s always got it together and has a plan. She’s got weaknesses and strengths. To me, she’s become a relatable character and hopefully someone that you want to root for and feel like you can recognize parts of you in her [character].
Going along with what I mentioned earlier about the fans, what’s the coolest Sabine related fan creation you’ve seen so far?
TS: Well, getting to see people cosplay Sabine is such a thrill and an honor for me. I feel like everyone who does the cosplay, everybody just kills it! They do the different season’s hair; I’m so impressed every time someone sends me a picture from a [convention] somewhere in the world and there’s a Sabine fully decked out. Now they have some with Darksabers on season three hair, which is my personal favorite.
It’s a huge joy for me to get to see people from all different backgrounds…I’ve seen little kids cosplay Sabine, I’ve seen adults cosplay Sabine. That to me is really gratifying. I know that Star Wars fans are the best fans in the world; the most encouraging, supportive, and enthusiastic, so getting to see people cosplay in your character is on another level.
I think Sabine being both female and a person of color has a lot to do with that as well. It’s important for younger audiences to see that and it’s something I know you’ve been very vocal about.
TS: I didn’t get to see a lot of those characters. I didn’t see superhero characters who looked like me when I was growing up, so if I can contribute to changing, in some small way, for younger people now, that’s hugely important to me. Representation is so important. Star Wars is kind of on the forefront of having tons of female protagonists (between the live-action films and animated series); I mean, there’s an Asian female lead actor in the next one and that’s so exciting. I love that Star Wars is on the forefront on making the face of what heroes look like, change.
Yeah, I feel that’s a big reason behind the fan support of Sabine and even a lot of toys. Sabine was voted in for the Black Series line by fans a couple years back! Do you have any of the toys/merchandise of Sabine?
TS: Yeah, yeah…luckily Lucasfilm and Disney send me Sabine merch, it’s awesome. I have my Sabine action figures that are neat, and some cool prints. I have all the “accoutrements” [laughs].
Do you happen to have a favorite piece of merchandise out there?
TS: Ummmmm, well I think the Forces of Destiny adventure figure. It’s really cool. I love them all! To get to have a character with her own action figure, that’s amazing. It never stops being mind-blowing, but I like that [Forces of Destiny] one a lot.
Speaking of which, Sabine’s appeared a couple times now on Forces of Destiny. Beyond that, and with Rebels ending, what future do you see for Sabine personally? I’m sure you can’t say anything specific–
TS: Oh no, I don’t know! I hope that she gets to continue the fight against the Empire and serve in the Rebellion in some capacity. I know some people were crushed when Clone Wars ended, but look, Ahsoka had this incredible story arc in our show…So you never know. The Star Wars universe is vast and continues, so if there’s some way for Sabine to be involved in any capacity to keep fighting the good fight, that’d be thrilling for me.
I know we’d all love to see you keep coming back to portray the character as well. That said, if Sabine ever shows up in a live-action movie, and you were unable to do it (for some reason), is there any other actress you’d like to see take on Sabine?
TS: Truth be told, I have never envisioned anyone but myself playing Sabine in a live-action movie [laughs]
TS: And I have envisioned it that’s for sure! Taylor Gray and I often harass Dave Filoni to make a live-action film so we can all play our own characters! I guess it’s never occurred to me who it might be…All I’ll say is if there were to be a live-action Sabine, and it couldn’t be me, I just would hope that whoever is casting and making decisions wouldn’t shy away from finding someone who is a person of color. Whether she’s South Asian like me or…I love that Sabine is, well she’s a Mandalorian and he ethnicity is ambiguous, but I would want someone who’s also a person of color.
It would be a lot of our fan dreams to see the whole cast being able to portray themselves on the big screen at some point.
TS: I think we could do it! I feel like it would be a no brainer. Taylor is Ezra, he truly is. Freddie [Prinze Jr.] is Kanan, he could play him, no problem. Vanessa [Marshall], I mean, throw some Lekku on her and paint her green and she’s Hera. Steve [Blum] I guess we’d have to put in some prosthetics or something, but I feel like we could do it!
That would be a dream come true for me. Guess I’ll just put it out in the ether and hope for the best.
You’ve been working on Rebels for a number of years now, and looking back on some things, what would be your favorite of working on the show?
TS: I have two favorite parts. One would be developing the relationships I have with my cast mates and Dave. We have the luxury of recording as a cast each and every single episode. We’ve been recording much longer than the series has been on the air, so we’ve been doing this as a family for years.
That is something I will take with me for the rest of my life. I love those people dearly and I feel like…We always say, because it’s true, that our relationship between our characters totally mimic our real life relationships. I really do feel like we’re a family unit. Even if we never do Rebels again, which would be sad–if we never get to act in the same capacity–we’re going to be a crew forever. It makes me happy. It makes me sad that the show’s ending, but I’m happy I can maintain relationships with those guys.
Then there are the interactions with the fans. Getting to actually meet Rebels fans in real life, and even on the internet through social media, is so gratifying. To get to see that people care about these characters, and care about their stories never ceases to amaze me. That’s something I’m happy to know won’t go away anytime soon.
Even though the show won’t be on the air, it will live on through the fandom. That’s encouraging to me, and makes me a little less sad. We can still love Rebels indefinitely even if we’re not making new episodes. It’s always going to be there. That gives me some solace.
What’s your favorite Sabine related Star Wars Rebels episode throughout the entire series?
TS: Trials of the Darksaber, easily. It was challenging in ways that I hadn’t been challenged before, since I come from an on camera background. Getting to delve so deeply into this character that prior to this episode, she’d never allowed herself to be vulnerable in front of anyone; including her Ghost crew family. Coming from an on camera background and having to go to a certain place emotionally and performance wise with only my voice, was a whole different kind of challenge I’d never been presented with before.
That was wonderful, and telling that story was such a gift. Getting to work in such a different capacity with Freddie and Dave; it was a very intimate recording experience. It was really special to me, and seeing fans reactions to that episode, seeing people willing to go on that journey with me was really wonderful. I’ll remember that for a very long time.
To me, that’s my most special episode and without saying anything, because I’m not allowed to, I think our season four finale is just…Oh my gosh! On another level. I haven’t seen it yet, but I was there, recording it and it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see it and can’t wait for fans to see it.
Do you watch the show as it comes out, or do you have watch parties/screenings?
TS: Sometimes they will screen episodes for us and we’ll watch them together. Which is awesome, because we go to Disney and watch them in this screening room with this amazing sound system and beautiful screen–it’s really immersive. I mean, that’s the way we should ALL watch Rebels. Sadly, the TV in my living room just doesn’t give the same feeling. Some episodes I do watch when everyone else does, but sometimes we do get to watch those episodes–and getting to watch those as a cast is extra special.