At the 2015 D23 Expo, PopGeeks.net was able to catch up with the multi-talented performer, Ashley Eckstein. Currently, Eckstein is the voice of the hero Ahsoka Tano of the hit Star Wars TV series, Star Wars Rebels. Eckstein reprised the role she previously made famous in the long-running series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Eckstein played the role again in Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition, which just hit the shelves. In addition, Eckstein is the co-founder of Her Universe, the female-centric geek apparel website. I caught up with Eckstein at the Her Universe booth during the expo to talk about her clandestine return as Ahsoka Tano, plus her work on shows like Ultimate Spider-Man as Dagger and much more.
Jeffrey Harris: How has the D23 experience been for you so far?
Ashley Eckstein: This experience has been incredible so far. I’m a massive Disney fan, so I actually had the opportunity to spend the morning walking the floor. I’m here to meet everyone with Her Universe, but I’m here geeking out over everything as a Disney fan. I got to see the Disney Shanghai experience. It’s so cool.
Jeffrey Harris: You are wearing a Thor outfit right now. Are you designing any of the outfits for Her Universe?
Ashley Eckstein: Her Universe is half my company, so I’m doing everything from designs to sales to meetings, so yes. This is part of our Marvel Collection at Hot Topic, so we got to work on this collection. There’s other pieces in the collection. There’s a Loki dress, a Captain America dress. There’s an Iron Man jacket. We have a lot of cool things to come as well.
Jeffrey Harris: Her Universe has a lot of wonderful geek chic apparel for the female fan. How did this get started?
Ashley Eckstein: This got started – I’m actually a huge fan. I just wanted more stuff made for me. I also wanted a community for female fans, where we just felt supported. That it’s OK to be a girl and OK to be a Star Wars fan because five years ago it was kind of taboo. Now it’s accepted, which is so exciting because Star Wars is for everyone. It transcends gender. It’s not just for guys. It’s not just for girls. It’s for everyone.
Jeffrey Harris: This D23 is very exciting because now Disney and Lucasfilm are part of the same family, meaning you are part of the Disney family now as Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. You are in Disney Infinity now as Ahsoka Tano. When you first started playing this character seven years ago, the Star Wars franchise was in a different place. So what’s it like to come back to it now seeing Star Wars at Disney?
Ashley Eckstein: It always seemed like such a natural fit to me. Disney fans and Star Wars fans, there’s a lot of crossover there. I’m one of those fans. I like both. I’ve always liked Star Wars. I’ve always liked Disney. So it seems like the natural home for it. And it’s exciting because there is so much more content. There are so many new stories being made and told now that it’s in the Disney family.
Jeffrey Harris: For your stealth, clandestine return for Star Wars Rebels, what did you know and what did you not know?
Ashley Eckstein: It was a hard secret to keep. I knew that Ahsoka was coming back for over a year. To have to keep that from everyone, “Is Ahsoka coming back on Rebels? Is Ahsoka coming back on Rebels? Is she coming back on Rebels?” I got that question all the time, so I’m happy that the cat’s out of the bag, that the secret’s out. And now everyone wants to know if Ahsoka is going to meet Darth Vader, and that’s something that I can’t really talk about.
Jeffrey Harris: Technically, there already was. There was a meeting across the Force between the two.
Ashley Eckstein: Does she know that’s Anakin though?
Jeffrey Harris: I think she knows it is true.
Ashley Eckstein: See what’s interesting, and this is not giving anything away, this is just my opinion. I don’t think that she knows. That is purely my opinion and has no influence on the actual story.
Jeffrey Harris: Purely, in my opinion, I think deep down, if she searches her feelings, she knows it is true.
Ashley Eckstein: Yeah, but sometimes I don’t think – I think it’s in human nature we don’t want to believe the worst, so our mind tricks us so they don’t think that it’s not true.
Jeffrey Harris: But could you tell your husband or parents?
Ashley Eckstein: No, I don’t. When I first was cast as Ahsoka, I had to keep it a secret. I kept it a secret from my husband for over a year. He knew that I was working on the new Star Wars series. So he knew when I was going to work what I was doing, but he didn’t know that I was playing Ahsoka Tano. So I’m good at keeping a secret.
Jeffrey Harris: The good news is that Ahsoka is back. The bad news is that she came at a bad time when Darth Vader is around. The Empire is in power. Honestly, I am worried about Ahsoka’s chances of survival now. Do you think Ahsoka can get out of this conflict OK?
Ashley Eckstein: I don’t know. I will say I truly don’t know her outcome. Dave Filoni is the only one that knows that, and he’s purposefully keeping it a secret from us. I do fear because one time I did hear from Dave that if she meets Darth Vader, it might not be a good thing. So I do fear that actually, but I hope she comes out alive. I’ve always been in Team Ahsoka Lives.
Jeffrey Harris: Have you ever brainstormed about where Ahsoka has been for the last 15 years and what she has been doing?
Ashley Eckstein: You know it’s funny because I wish I was a writer, and it’s just not my talent. For especially Star Wars stories, I leave that to the experts. I don’t really theorize because I know whatever Dave Filoni and Henry Gilroy and their team are going to come up with is way cooler than what I come up with. And I just stalk them for answers.
Jeffrey Harris: When you stalk them, do they ever give you any answers.
Ashley Eckstein: Sometimes. I know some backstory.
Jeffrey Harris: On Ultimate Spider-Man you also play Dagger of Cloak & Dagger. I think that makes you the first actor in a motion picture version for that character, excluding the video games. So how do you like getting to play in the Marvel Universe, also part of Disney, as well?
Ashley Eckstein: Wow. You know I didn’t quite realize that, that I was the first to do Dagger. It’s such a great honor to originate iconic characters. Ahsoka was a brand-new character to Star Wars. I consider it an honor to be a part of both universes, and it’s something I don’t take likely.
Jeffrey Harris: So will Dagger and the New Warriors return for season four of Ultimate Spider-Man?
Ashley Eckstein: We’re already recording it. Yup, and I’m doing a new voice for Shriek [in the show].
Jeffrey Harris: When you were able to see the trailer for Star Wars Rebels and fans at Celebration, what was that experience like?
Ashley Eckstein: It was unreal. I actually got to see the episodes for the first time in that big theater with everyone else. To see it for the first time in that environment with everyone else was unreal.
Jeffrey Harris: I always sense some romantic tension between Kanan and Hera. I don’t know if you see it at all?
Ashley Eckstein: I do.
Jeffrey Harris: Now the Jedi Order is gone. OK.
Ashley Eckstein: *Laughs*
Jeffrey Harris: So there are no more rules. The rules of celibacy are out the window. So Ahsoka, doesn’t have to get married, but she could go out on a date or have dinner with someone. What do you think? Hypothetically. Maybe Kanan? She’s a Jedi. He’s kind of a Jedi.
Ashley Eckstein: You know, I do know Ahsoka has had feelings for other people or aliens before.
Jeffrey Harris: There have been feels.
Ashley Eckstein: There have been feels. And I do know from backstory that there have been feels for other characters. So yeah.
Jeffrey Harris: Would you be OK if she had feels in the future?
Ashley Eckstein: Sure, depending on who it is. But I think it’s safe to say that Kanan seems to be into Hera more. There’s nothing there with Ahsoka.
Jeffrey Harris: But don’t you think love can bloom on a battlefield?
Ashley Eckstein: Yes, I definitely do.
Jeffrey Harris: Anything else you’d like to share with the fans on Her Universe or the Ashley Eckstein Universe?
Ashley Eckstein: Well I’m working on a new animated project that unfortunately I can’t talk about at the moment, but it’s a DC project. So adding another universe in there. It’s a very cool project, so excited to talk about that when the time comes. Her Universe, this is the year of Star Wars. There are so many new Star Wars designs coming out. So I’m mixing my universes here. I have R2D2 and Thor [that I’m wearing], but very excited. There’s a lot of good stuff coming out this year still.
Jeffrey Harris: So is the ideal birthday or anniversary gift for you would be stuff from Her Universe?
Ashley Eckstein: I will say one of the perks of this being my company is I do get samples of everything, so I’m pretty set on Her Universe. But I love anything Disney. Honestly, my husband, a lot of gifts he gets for me are from Disney. I’m a big Disney geek.
Jeffrey Harris: I think that can be very romantic. Ashley Eckstein, thanks so much for speaking with me. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you.
Ashley Eckstein: Thank you.
Thank you to Ashley Eckstein for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us. Star Wars Rebels Season 2 will debut on Disney XD on Wednesday, October 14. She will return as Dagger and voice the character Shriek on season four of Ultimate Spider-Man, which will debut next year on Disney XD too. In addition, you can check out her awesome apparel site HerUniverse.com.