Dave Filoni’s complete tactical envelopment of the wider Star Wars universe—after years of steadily cultivating his position from deep within the franchise’s animated TV foothills—has reached a new milestone today, as THR reports that Eman Esfandi has joined the upcoming Disney+ show Ahsoka as Ezra Bridger, the teen hero of Filoni’s 2010's Star Wars cartoon, Rebels.
Esfandi is a relative newcomer to Hollywood acting, although he did pick up a small credit in last year’s Will Smith Oscar-winner (and, then, well, y’know) King Richard. He’ll be taking over a role that was originated in voice acting form by Taylor Gray, and joining Rosario Dawson, who first played the role of the series’ titular former Padawan in an episode of The Mandalorian.
As to Ezra, he’s, well…a pretty standard Star Wars kid protagonist, honestly. Plucky, headstrong, Force sensitive—and mostly existing, at least at first, to serve as a kid viewpoint character for viewers of Rebels, which kicked off on Disney XD back in 2014. (In that regard, he’s not all that different from Ahsoka herself, who was introduced as a kid sidekick for Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi when Filoni launched his Clone Wars movie and subsequent TV show way back in 2008.) Ezra later got fleshed out over the course of the show’s four seasons, of course—picking up, for instance, a weird quasi-mentorship from renegade Sith Darth Maul—but he ends the series as a pretty typical Jedi—sacrificing himself to ensure that a threat to the galaxy remains contained. (Space whales are also involved.) Ahsoka will presumably resolve that cliffhanger (at least in passing) as it continues to mine the work that Filoni’s been doing on the franchise for decades at this point for its live-action version of the character’s exploits.
We’ll presumably know even more about Ahsoka after tomorrow, when Star Wars is expected to have its time to shine during the franchise’s big morning panel at Disney’s D23 panel.
One more interesting wrinkle from this casting: Mena Massoud, star of Disney’s live-action Aladdin, has responded to the news, noting that he’s mostly just happy now that the many rumors that have swirled around him playing Ezra in the show have now subsided. (He also acknowledges that he did tape at least one audition for the part.)