We've seen a villain and we've seen a droid. Now, for "Star Wars" fans who've always wanted to see Han Solo pick up a lightsaber, "Star Wars Rebels" is ready to give you the next best thing. Executive producer Dave Filoni calls new character Kanan a "cowboy Jedi," as quick with a blaster as he is the lightsaber.
Driven underground by Order 66 (Emperor Palpatine's decree that wiped out the Jedi in "Revenge of the Sith") and forced to hide his Jedi skills, Kanan is the captain of the Ghost — a cargo ship that bears no small resemblance to Solo's Millennium Falcon from the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
"You suddenly have this cocky Jedi who's willing to shoot you as much as he is willing to get you with his lightsaber," describes Prinze of the character. And his management style? "When he tells you something, you've gotta do it." But the cockiness comes from some deep emotional trauma. "He definitely has seen more than what a young man should see," which leaves him secretive but also less bound to the traditional rules of the Jedi.
Prinze says of Kanan, "He's been forced to shove a massive part of his life under the bed, so to speak," which is both symbolically and literally represented by his keeping his lightsaber hidden, lest the Empire discover his Jedi past. The series will see this character move from rogue to hero — or as Filoni put it, Kanan's a "gunslinger that needs to put the gun away and pick up the sword again and fight for a noble cause, a selfless cause."
He wears armor to signify he's a fighter and a ponytail to remind us of the samurai influence on Jedi philosophy. If you look closely at his shoulder, you'll see a symbol of the Rebel Alliance that will figure prominently in the story line about five years later when "A New Hope" occurs.
"Kanan is pretty much the coolest guy in the universe," says Prinze, though he has yet to convince his 4-year-old daughter with Sarah Michelle Gellar of that fact. He tells USA Today that he's getting her ready to watch the original "Star Wars" movie, "so she can know just how awesome a lightsaber is and she can know just how awesome her daddy is for the rest of his life."