'Star Wars: The Clone Wars': Young Darth Vader Tells us What to Expect in Season 4

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Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Used with permission from Lucasfilm.
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Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Used with permission from Lucasfilm …

Matt Lanter has spent the last few years splitting his time between walking the streets of "90210" and voicing young Darth Vader. The "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" actor took some time to answer my questions about his journey down the path to the Dark Side and what we can expect from Season 4 of the series.

Tell us a little about the process of recording the voice of Anakin Skywalker.

We record one episode in four hours. We try to get everybody together who's in the script. We literally go through scene by scene. Sometimes [Supervising Producer] Dave Filoni will give us his notes. There may be minor changes. Sometimes the actors will suggest changes in the line or suggest saying it with a different tone or inflection. He gives little notes as to how it's going to look when it's animated because we have no idea. Dave knows how the scene plays out and the movements of the characters. We usually get our scripts the day of recording. At this point, it is OK. Everybody knows his or her character so well that it doesn't take long to jump right in.

What sort of mindset do you get into when you voice Anakin?

There's no formula. I don't go in, sit down, and meditate to get into Anakin or anything. I've been working with the character now for five years. I've watched the films plenty of times. We've recorded over 100 episodes, so it's not hard to slip right into it. I feel like there's a big part of me in this Anakin. We've brought out more of a heroic and swashbuckling side. We see his darker moments but many times he's fun, witty and charismatic. I feel like, with George [Lucas] and Dave's guidance, I've helped bring that to life. It's not a huge stretch for me to jump into Anakin anymore. It's quite easy.

Knowing where the character ends up, how would you describe Anakin -- ultimate villain or tragic figure?

I would absolutely describe him as a tragic figure. I think this is something that's so great about "Star Wars" and Anakin in particular. I believe the "Star Wars" saga is all about Anakin. It's his rise and fall, and it's something George did so beautifully. He was once this great guy, and he fell. That's what "The Clone Wars" is doing. Showing Anakin in this more heroic light and highlighting his kinder, witty, funny, and charming side. It's things we heard about in the films but never got to see.

What sets this new season of "The Clone Wars" apart from the others?

We say this every year because it's true every year. It just becomes more incredible. This past episode was such a huge undertaking. We not only added many characters, but we set it underwater. That was a huge feat. People probably don't think about how difficult it is to make computer-animated models look like they're underwater. I was blown away when I saw that. You can set it underwater and add a few bubbles here and there, but can you make it feel like they're underwater? We did, and that was incredible to me. The season is actually called "Battle Lines," which is indicative of what's to come. There's more character development. We have some new characters coming in. There are characters that we possibly know already from the films. These characters are wearing down from the war. Their thoughts, opinions, and ideas of the war and good versus evil are changing. I think that's all very interesting.

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Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo-Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. He also served as a news reporter for the award winning movie website GordonandtheWhale.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! TV, Associated Content from Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other national entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with iconic movie and TV actors such as Harrison Ford, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Brooke Shields, Brendan Fraser, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Gene Simmons, Ashley Tisdale, Selena Gomez and many more. His personal website is www.ersink.com.

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