'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Director Filoni Appreciates USO Entertainment's Place With Troops
Thursday, January 31, 2013
By Christian Pelusi
For “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” director Dave Filoni, the idea of the USO and the benefits that the USO can offer to troops and military families hit him at a young age.
“When Bob Hope famously would go on those USO tours, and he went into all kinds of areas where there were conflicts, and he’s bringing laughter with him … I think just for [troops] out there to think that there are still places in the world where you can laugh, where people are finding humor in things, must have been an incredibly inspirational thought,” Filoni said following a USO trip for his “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” team to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Miramar, Calif. “And at the same time, they’re thinking, ‘I’m protecting that.’ … They’re doing the very hard job, which is out there on the front lines, defending the freedoms of people at large.
“We don’t get to do what we do if they’re not doing what they’re doing.”
What Filoni and his cast of voice actors do is create a very popular series on Cartoon Network that carries the “Star Wars” tradition to a new generation of fans, young and old alike.
“I think for me, it’s really about ‘an escape,’” Filoni said, regarding what his series provides to troops and military families. “You’re providing a story and inspiring their mind and taking their mind out of their day-to-day, which I think can be very important abroad. But equally important for families that might have someone that’s deployed and they’re patiently waiting for someone to return, I think to take them out of that, to take them to ‘a galaxy, far, far away,’ at least for us, that’s our whole point.
“The other thing I’ve found is, at least for ‘Star Wars,’ it’s such a common bridge between generations that a mother or father who grew up watching ‘[Star Wars Episode IV:] A New Hope,’ now they have kids that are completely into ‘Clone Wars’ and it gives them something to talk about.”
And talk they do, especially when fans are given an opportunity like the one presented to them by the USO at Miramar, where the audience enjoyed two episodes (one being a premiere), followed by a Q&A session and an autograph signing.
“It’s kind of fascinating to me, I just enjoy talking to people so that’s always fun,” Filoni said. “It’s the best thing. People come up and want to tell you what they think. I always find, rather than answering questions, it’s always fun to ask ‘What did you think?’ And they’ll go on and on and on and that’s really fun for me, because I don’t have to worry about giving anything away that I shouldn’t be giving away.”
While Filoni held onto his series’ secrets tightly, he couldn’t say enough about the troops he aims to entertain.
“I told [the troops], they’re some of the most Jedi-like people I know, because they’re actually on the frontline, being selfless, giving to people they’ll probably never meet in their lifetime, protecting the country so I think it’s a very big deal. Again, to be a part of that, to entertain, I think it sparks creativity. And I think when you spark creativity on any level, it’s a very healthy thing.”
Looking back on the visit to Miramar, Filoni’s only regret was that he and the cast couldn’t entertain the military families for the entire day and night.
“I wish that we had two hours of programming for those guys, because they were just an awesome audience,” he said. “I think to a person, everyone would do it again. It’s such an inspirational experience. And just the thought of giving back something to people who are so selfless every day, giving so much of their lives to service. The fact that they feel value in what we do and they feel that we are entertaining them. I know that most of my cast would travel anywhere on the earth to be a part of that and to continue spreading this kind of entertainment for them to take them out of daily life for 22 minutes or however long or as many episodes as they want.”
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* Watch a video of the "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" visit to Miramar.
* Shop USO Wishbook to donate funds that helps more troops and families enjoy the programs and services that the USO offers worldwide.
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