If you’re a Star Wars fan, talking to legendary voice actor Corey Burton can be a little scary. After all, on The Clone Wars, Burton was the voice of villainous Sith Lord Count Dooku, as well as vicious bounty hunter Cad Bane. Neither character is someone you’d like to meet in a dark alley. (Or bright street for that matter.) This year, Burton reprised both roles to great effect: Bane for The Book of Boba Fett, and now Dooku in Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi. io9 spoke to him about the latter.
In Dooku’s three-episode arc, we first see a completely new version of the character: a young, heroic Jedi Master with a young apprentice by the name of Qui-Gon Jinn, years before the story we already know. In the second episode, Dooku begins to see cracks in his once-beloved Jedi Order, and by the end, we see him fully turn to the Dark Side, setting up the Dooku from Attack of the Clones and, more importantly, The Clone Wars, where Burton provided the voice.
Speaking to Burton last week, io9 was surprised to hear that when the actor got the call about Tales of the Jedi, his first instinct was to change his Dooku. “My thought was, let’s do him like a young sort of Michael York, a young Shakespearean type,” he said. “Forward looking, ambitious, but, you know, positive spirited. And so I had figured on doing a young, bright version. Sort of on a new kind of version of him.”
Little did Burton know that once recording started, his choice for the younger Dooku was not what series writer and creator Dave Filoni had in mind. “I started out and I said, ‘Oh, well, what do you think of playing him young like this?’” Burton said. “And I demonstrated. He was like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, just do Dooku. Our voices don’t change that much from young adulthood, if at all. Just play the character.”
That direction was fine by Burton, a veteran of the medium who, unlike his Tales of the Jedi co-star Ashley Eckstein, doesn’t like to get too wrapped up in Star Wars lore. “When I’m performing, and especially with something like this that’s very special, it’s all under wraps. There are no spoilers [and] I don’t like to have it spoiled for myself either,” Burton said. “I like to be in the moment the character’s in. So I don’t like to know anything other than what the character knows within the framework of those particular scenes. I don’t want that to influence me if I know that Obi-Wan and Anakin and are plotting something.”
What he does is rely heavily on Filoni and the team around him. “I’m very isolated,” Burton said. “I’m very much in the skin of that character when I’m performing it. I don’t think about much else. And again, with Dave in my ear and in my head, I’m trying to, through him, be linked as closely as possible with what was in the writer’s mind. And I think together we accomplished that.”
Though Burton prefers not to look into Dooku’s backstory or think about links to Attack of the Clones, he is excited by the show and relished the chance to expand on a character he’d been voicing for so many years. “I pride myself in being a craftsman, a craft worker. And every character and every production is this team effort,” he said. “Dave is is the master storyteller. And, in serving that, hopefully I am bringing that to the microphone. And it all fits together and forms something really special. Something greater than the sum of its parts.”
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is now on Disney+
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