The Clone Force 99 actor talks to StarWars.com about this season’s big choices and the surprises ahead.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars animation, you know Dee Bradley Baker’s voice. He played every clone trooper in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and now does the same in Star Wars: The Bad Batch — including the principal troopers in Clone Force 99. As Hunter, Tech, Echo, Wrecker, and ex-Batcher Crosshair, Baker has very different personalities to bring to life. And when his own characters are together in a scene, it’s no work of editing magic.
“Most of the Bad Batch scenes, we just record straight through as written,” Baker tells StarWars.com. “It feels to me, I'm fond of saying, like jumping from rock to rock in a stream. Each is a clear entity. I can see it, I can feel their distinct difference so that they're like a real person, and I can just jump from one to the other.” It’s an acting workout to be sure, and Baker has a lot to do this season.
As the story of Clone Force 99, a.k.a. the Bad Batch, continues in Season 2 on Disney+, the team of elite clones must decide what they will be in this new galaxy. The Republic they served is no more; in its place is the Empire, which has deemed them an enemy. “In Season 2, we see an upping of the stakes in terms of what's in play with the Empire's closing of its iron fist around the galaxy. And so, increasingly, the Bad Batch is up against that. They've spent a good amount of time trying to figure out where their place is, running missions, but not really getting directly involved. But at the same time, you have Rex and other clones, like Echo, stepping up and saying, 'We need to get involved with this.’”
Indeed, Echo needs to nudge team leader Hunter toward taking an active stance. Baker has his own feelings on why Hunter wouldn’t be eager to challenge the Empire.
“Well, I think Hunter's style is one of careful consideration. He's not a hothead who jumps into things, he really wants to make sure that everything makes sense. Even when they're even being sent on a mission by Sid, he's the one saying, ‘Uh, I don't know about this.’” It’s Hunter’s thoughtfulness that often helps the Bad Batch navigate surprises and strange missions, something Baker teases we’ll see more of this season.
This season has already seen the surprise return of fan-favorite trooper Commander Cody, defecting from the Empire after seeing its tyranny in action. Cody’s turn came during a mission with Crosshair, the former Batcher who has remained loyal to the Empire, and whose conflict with his brothers in the Bad Batch continues to form the show’s central conflict. “His story becomes very, very interesting,” Baker teases. “My favorite episode is a Crosshair episode. It's coming up about three quarters of the way through. It's a really interesting story, and his own personal journey is particularly interesting to me. It's a real standout this season.”
With this in mind, who is the actor’s favorite Batcher of all time?
“Look, they're all fun, they're all interesting. I like them all very much,” Baker says. “But Crosshair is this interesting, coiled snake of a guy, who's got a very odd, contrary opinion and viewpoint of things. I mean, his job is not only to hit things from a stealth distance, but I think he also views the world and other people from that distance, as well, and because of that, he's an interesting character. The voice is the quietest of all the Bad Batch, certainly. But he's not arch. He's not pure evil. He’s ultimately a rational guy, and there's some humanity in there, too.”
There is, of course, one member of the team not played by Baker: Omega, the unaltered child clone and heart of the squad. She brings an innocence and optimism to the Bad Batch, while these seasoned troopers do their best to raise her. “Well, it gives a nice layer of meaning, relevance, and depth of connection and relatability, to have Omega among these brothers,” Baker says. “You not only have the story of a survival of a band of misfit specialists playing out as this galactic tyranny starts to close its iron grip, but at the same time they are trying to raise and protect a kid in the middle of all of this.”
As The Bad Batch reaches the midpoint of Season 2, Baker can’t wait for fans to see where it will go.
“The adventures, twists of plot, and turns of fate that are coming will be unexpected. Some will be welcome and some will not. [Laughs.] But it's a heck of a ride. I think fans are going to be very happy with where this second season goes. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of and to experience with a fresh mind, not knowing what you're going to see or what's going to happen. ‘Cause that for me was always part of the thrill of Star Wars, tracking back to the original Episode IV and even Episode V. The best thing is being surprised and knocked out by something that you haven't seen or didn't expect. And there's a lot of that coming your way,” Baker says. “So buckle up, ‘cause here it comes.”