Lars Mikkelsen on the Joy of Playing Grand Admiral Thrawn in ‘Ahsoka’
Grand Admiral, we’ve been expecting you. One of the most eagerly anticipated reveals in the future of Star Wars happened last week at Star Wars Celebration Europe, when Lars Mikkelsen was revealed to a euphoric crowd at the Celebration Stage, having just been announced as reprising his iconic role as Grand Admiral Thrawn in the upcoming Ahsoka. Mikkelsen played the character—in voice form—on the animated series Star Wars Rebels, which precedes Ahsoka, and fans were understandably thrilled to find the Danish actor taking his place among the highly impressive cast of actors on stage.
Thrawn, first introduced in the 1991 novel by Timothy Zahn, Heir to the Empire, is a blue-skinned Chiss from the Unknown Regions of the galaxy who masterfully rose his way up the ranks of the Imperial Navy, becoming the best strategic military mind of the Empire, before taking the reins from Emperor Palpatine following his demise at the hands of Darth Vader.
Thrawn was thought to have been wiped from existence when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, and decided to scrap the canon established by the novels that followed Return of the Jedi in that down period between 1983 and 1999’s The Phantom Menace, but Dave Filoni rescued Thrawn, inserting a new iteration of the character into Star Wars Rebels, set before A New Hope in the earliest days of the Rebel Alliance.
In the aftermath of his unveiling as Thrawn in London, Mikkelsen spoke with Collider’s editor-in-chief Steve Weintraub about returning to the role, and was effusive when asked about how impressed he was with Filoni’s construction of the character in the writing process.
“Dave Filoni’s writing is very good, it’s very strong, and all the characters have their own drive. You will probably not know totally what it’s all about until that very last scene, and I like that way of writing, that you take your audience so seriously that you allow them to think for themselves, that we drag it out right until the last moments what the whole thing is about. Maybe I can’t talk too much more about it after that!”
What Makes Thrawn So Compelling?
Mikkelsen took over the character during the third season of Rebels and clearly relishes the way the character is written on the page – as the smartest one in the room, a man who is five steps ahead of everybody else, a gift from an actor like Mikkelsen. Elaborating on what makes the process of being Thrawn so compelling, he noted the quality of the writing allowed for him to excel and bring the best of himself to the screen.
“That’s what you want as an actor. You don’t want to reveal everything, you want your secrets and when it’s within the script, it’s the best. It’s effortless in that sense. You can only play the moment, and you don’t have to push anything because the story writing is so good that it will tell the story for you. The makeup process was between two and three hours. We got it down to two-something, 2:30 maybe. It’s alright, you’re getting into the character, and it’s appearing in front of you.”
The first trailer for Ahsoka was released at Star Wars Celebration, and showcased the exciting action fans can expect when the series premieres on Disney+ in August 2023.