By Andie Hagemann
Clone Force 99 is back for another mission.
Lucasfilm Animation series Star Wars: The Bad Batch ushers in a new chapter of the Star Wars saga and follows the experimental clones of the Bad Batch as they find their way in a changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War.
Now streaming on Disney+, with new episodes launching weekly, Season 2 opens months after the events on Kamino, and the Bad Batch continue their journey across the Empire after the fall of the Republic. They encounter friends and foes, both new and familiar, as they take on thrilling mercenary missions that will take them to unexpected and dangerous new places.
Bringing the complex characters to life on the screen is no easy feat, but voice actors Dee Bradley Baker and Michelle Ang relish the challenge.
“The trickiest part of voiceover is simply acting—it all gets down to acting well,” says Baker, who lends his voice to the Bad Batch, Clone Troopers, Captain Howzer, Captain Rex, Captain Wilco, Captain Grey, Commander Cody, Cut, and Gregor.
Baker adds, “To do it well and to enjoy it, it’s like being a session player in a jazz band. You’ve got to be ready for someone to throw the solo to you or take up the bass line and support, but to have that feeling of readiness to be able to contribute whatever needs to be added appropriately to the story that’s being told or the song that’s being sung.”
Ang, who voices Omega, an unaltered clone, uses the character’s physical traits and the “character’s essence” as a starting point when formulating the voice.
“It’s about placing myself in the world,” Ang shares, “and because the scripts are so full, it’s easy for me to imagine the scene playing out. The childlike wonder of experiencing something for the first time comes naturally when I bring my whole body and imagination to it—then my voice just follows.”
The creatives behind the magic of Star Wars: The Bad Batch animate the series to the voice actors’ performances. Therefore, the cast relies heavily on direction from supervising director and executive producer Brad Rau to execute the tone needed for the scene.
“Voice acting is a very collaborative variation of acting—uniquely so, because it’s not just what we’re performing, but it’s also done in collaboration with the team of artists and technicians who add their acting to our voice performance,” Baker says.
Ang adds, “I’m newer to voice acting, and thinking a lot about physicality is something that was quite different and required that extra layer of imagination when thinking about the physical environment and physical exertion [for Omega during a climb or even when speaking to Crosshair or Hunter].”
Baker has portrayed a lot of his Star Wars characters, especially the clones, for a long time, having worked on Tales of the Jedi, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, and Star Wars: Rebels, to name a few, and he reveals how he organizes his Rolodex of voices.
“I usually associate the clones, who are closer in character to each other than the Bad Batch, with an adjective or two,” Baker says. “For Cody, the word that comes to my mind is ‘regal.’ There’s an authority that I try to feather into his performance to make him distinct from other clone brothers. If that’s not enough, then they probably have a reference that they can play back for me so I can find the tone and something specific to keep him delineated from the other characters.”