The supervising director behind the new Disney+ Original Series talks to StarWars.com.
It began with a stop at Burger King. In 1980, Brad Rau was five years old and his mother decided to take him and his brother to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Brad had never seen Star Wars, but that didn’t seem to matter. Like most kids, he loved movies, and a trip to the Home of the Whopper made the outing even more of an event.
“I got some chicken tenders, the barbecue sauce, and the Empire Strikes Back glass. I had no idea who any of these characters were, but we each had our glass and we went to see the movie,” Rau tells StarWars.com. “I’m not overstating it when I say it just changed our lives. It changed our lives! Everything after that was Star Wars.” That experience made him a fan, but also set his life on a very specific course. “From there, watching behind-the-scenes videos of the process at ILM, I didn’t even know what it meant. It was just, ‘I have to do that. I have to find a way to work on Star Wars.”
Five-year-old Brad would be happy to know that he did. Rau is the supervising director and an executive producer of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Lucasfilm’s new animated series arriving May the 4th on Disney+. Rau was tapped for the job by series creator and fellow executive producer Dave Filoni, longtime shepherd of Lucasfilm Animation and one of the creative leads of The Mandalorian, following directorial stints on Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Forces of Destiny, and Star Wars Resistance. “It’s a dream come true,” he says. “I love it.”
The Bad Batch spins out of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which introduced Clone Force 99: an elite squad of clone troopers with genetic mutations, hence the nickname “the Bad Batch.” There’s Hunter, the team leader with heightened sentences and a rad facial tattoo; Crosshair, the ace sniper with an attitude; Wrecker, whose name basically says it all; Tech, the computer whiz; and Echo, a clone-turned-cyborg who feels more at home with this motley crew. The series begins at the very end of the Clone War and the decimation of the Jedi Order, finding the Bad Batch on the run from the newly-formed Empire -- and maybe more significantly, their brothers in the clone army. In a way, the Bad Batch are in the same position as fans who came to love the clones through The Clone Wars: they have to face a new reality in which these former heroes are now villains.
“It’s something that we deal with all the time when we’re talking about the overall arc of the show and individual episodes. This team, how they view their brothers is a really interesting thing. Dave Filoni had this great idea to go in and start taking out colors from the clone troopers’ armor," Rau says. "As the Empire has started to rise and exert its will, he thought it would be cool if it becomes less colorful, less individual, less unique."