The final interview (or is it?) in our weeklong focus on LucasFilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars is with Catherine “Cat” Taber, the talented actress who voices Anakin’s secret flame, Padme Amidala.
One peek at Catherine’s extensive voice and live-action resume reveals a fantasy-fueled dream. She’s been in more video games than most people ever own, including Star Wars projects. Not many people can say they’ve been involved with The Bard’s Tale, Avatar and Star Wars franchises, but Catherine can. She’s one cool “Cat.”
In The Clone Wars, Catherine guides Padme through her continued efforts to solve the galactic conflict between the Separatists and Jedi via peaceful negotiations. Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without action, and Catherine’s Padme reluctantly gets her fair share.
Your resume is an intriguing mix of live-action, animation and video games. How did you come to be involved in The Clone Wars, and is there a difference between voice acting a game and a show?
I was still a bit new to the business at the time, so my agent, who really believed I was perfect for the role, had to call and convince the casting director to bring me in to audition, which she thankfully did! Being a big Star Wars fan, I was so excited to get the role and It has been such an amazing experience all around.
You know for me there is not too much difference between live action, animation and games. It is always about creating the character, you just have a different set of tools and different set of challenges in each medium. Animation, like The Clone Wars is fun because I get to record with my cast mates! It makes a scene so much fuller if I have Matt (Anakin) or Ian (Palpatine) there to play off of!
In games, you are usually recording by yourself, because the amount of dialogue is so much larger than in an animated show. I was, however, lucky enough to get to record with David Hayter when working on Metal Gear: Peacewalker. SNAKE! That was very cool!
Was it intimidating joining The Clone Wars knowing that you were voicing a character originally brought to life by Natalie Portman? No pressure there!
I know right? She is such a talented actress. But, you know I really felt like I knew who Padme was as a character, and so many times as an actor you are stepping in to a role that someone has played along the way, it just goes with the territory. You just have to be true to the character. And Dave Filoni was so great from day one, allowing me to make Padme my own.
One of the promo images for season 4 depicts Padme firing a blaster so it looks like she’ll get some action. What can you tell us about her journey this season?
In Season 4 of The Clone Wars, the stakes are getting higher for everyone, Padme included. The continuing war is taking its toll and darkness is starting to creep in. Padme continues to try and find solutions through diplomatic channels preventing further bloodshed, but of course her efforts are being thwarted at every turn… and yes, sometimes a girl has no choice but to pick up a blaster!
Our production team, the writers, the animators… everyone has outdone themselves and with even bigger battles and even more amazing new worlds to experience, I am so excited to be right in the middle of all of it… I mean, Padme is.
If you could switch roles with one character in The Clone Wars, who would it be?
Padme is really the perfect character to me. Feminine and elegant, but also tough and brave when she needs to be, so I don’t have a real desire to switch places with anyone. But, I think it would be really fun to be one of the bad guys for a day, so I would choose Ventress. I have such admiration for the amazing character Nika (Futterman) has created. It would be really cool to be so dark and just, you know, dripping with evil… but just for one day!
Alternatively, if you could dress up as one science fiction character for Halloween, who would it be, and why?
Arwen Undomiel, from LOTR. I just love the idea of being an elf, (or half elf anyway!). And she is just such a strong and proud character with such an amazing story. Plus, I like to ride horses and, you know, I would have to have a horse as a part of my costume!
How much input do you and the other voice actors have on the future of your characters in The Clone Wars? Is it an open creative environment where you can all make suggestions after reading the current scripts?
Where the story goes and how we get there is really up to George, Dave and the writers. But, Dave is amazing about letting me tweak a line or speech if I feel it is not exactly true to what Padme would do or say, and I am so grateful to him for that. It makes me feel like I am really a part of the collaborative process.
How did you get the nickname Cat? Is it as simple as Catherine shortened, or is there a cool story behind it?
Well, CAT is actually my initials. So that is how that came about… I should make up a cool story though, huh? But my nickname with friends is “the Kitten”.
You voice Vette in one of the most anticipated upcoming video games, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Can you tell us a little bit about the character and her role in the game?
Vette is my main character and I have had the pleasure of working on her for several years now. I appeared at the Bioware Panel at Comic-Con in San Diego and announced it so I finally get to talk about my involvement in the game! You can tell from the trailers how much has gone into this project and the quality of both the technology side and the story/narrative side is going to be something that really blows everyone away.
Vette is the companion character to the Sith Lord. She brings some light and fun to the darkside. She is an adventurer and a romantic with sarcastic side. I had a young Indiana Jones in my mind quite a bit while creating her.
In an interview we just did with your Clone Wars colleague Ashley Eckstein, she revealed that she has a closet that is floor to ceiling Star Wars. As someone also considered to be a Sci-fi geek goddess, can you top that? I must admit that I designed my office to look like Jabba’s Palace. It’s quite nerdy.
Wow! No, I can’t top a floor to ceiling Star Wars closet! My closet is sadly just full of clothes! But I have been collecting Sci-fi and fantasy stuff for a long time now. I do have a lot of Star Wars – especially Padme and Leia, and stuff from other projects I have worked on – things directors or castmates have given me, gifts from fans and my new office is all “Alice in Wonderland“. And, by the way, I think your office sounds great! Please tell me you have a life sized Salacious???? He is one of my favorites!
Tell us a little bit about your Games For Soldiers organization and how to contribute to it. I think it’s a fantastic idea.
Games for Soldiers is a way for me to do something small to say “thank you” to my American heroes, the men and women of our Armed Forces. I take donations and then send over boxes to units stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It started with video games, as I was working in games and many of the soldiers really enjoy playing them in their downtime, so it seemed a perfect fit! Now, I gladly also take comic books and DVDs.
If anyone is interested in learning more, they can visit the site www.gamesforsoldiers.com. It is a small “operation”, but thanks to the generosity of many, I have sent over 80 boxes in the last few years. Now through word of mouth, I have units contacting me all the time and I REALLY need donations to fill all the requests. People can contact the site for where to send their games.
Also, I will be at FAN DAYS in Texas in October and people who are attending can bring games there too. I want people to know that just one 360 or PS3 game that is sitting on your shelf collecting dust can help me fill a box and make a soldier’s day, so no donation is too small. Of course, I love big donations from Game Companies, too!
Do you have any other projects lined up besides The Clone Wars? Maybe a future foray into live-action?
Oh yes, foraying into live action is definitely in my future! Besides finishing up The Old Republic, I do have some really cool stuff I am working on. Most of which, I can’t talk about yet. That’s the magic and mystery of the Sci-fi world for you… I could tell you, but then… well, you know. (:
Additional features in our The Clone Wars series this week include interviews with CG Lighting & FX Supervisor Joel Aron, Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), and showrunner Dave Filoni. I’ll be back tomorrow with early thoughts on The Clone Wars series premiere.