ORLANDO, Fla. — Who is Dee Bradley Baker?
If you’ve tuned into Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then you’ve heard him many times, slightly differently each time, and never seen him once.
He’s the voice actor behind the numerous Clone Troopers on The Clone Wars, the fifth season of which started Saturday on Cartoon Network.
“A lot of the fan base is not just middle-age guys like me who love Star Wars, but you also get families and their kids now, and a fair amount of folks in the military,” Baker, 50, says. “I’ve had officers from Afghanistan say, ‘I love this show.’”
“They love the Clones. They like the sense of honor, and humanity and intelligence, and the sense of dealing with peril having to work their way through situations where it’s not really clear what they’re supposed to do.”
Baker, whose mother made him a Star Wars Jawa costume in 1977 when the movie first came out says, the series “is very straight ahead. It takes place in a universe where there is right and wrong, there is good and bad, and there is grappling with the grey in between.”
Baker knows that families deal with these issues on a personal level as they raise their children. He realized when he talked with people at media conventions that, “They look to these iconic characters in the situations, they go through as they teach their kids about life, and how they want things to go.
“To me, it makes sense that people flock to superhero iconic story lines such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, and others. There are a lot of variations of that these days, but I think it comes to people’s core desire to want to have some heroic way of good triumphing over evil, of the world actually being able to correct itself.”
And the world is changing faster and faster. “It’s an interesting world with Twitter and social media. It’s a great thing. it can bring down dictatorship, it can bring down the liars and unjust and things that are unfair,” he says, “but it can also be just this titanic force of destruction that can be brought down by anybody.”
“It’s like everybody has a grenade around their neck and they can pull that little pin at any instant …or they can pull the pin on the person next to them. If they want, in a way, just with one little word or one little sentence, you can destroy a person, that you can destroy a family, you can destroy your city, everything.”
Baker started acting in second grade. He’s done creature voices, ventriloquism, live performances, singing telegrams, and stand-up comedy. As a freelancer who doesn’t “have a steady obligation contract job, I’m lucky for every gig. I’m grateful for everything.” He does have one contract with the series American Dad.
He does voices for the Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra, which he enjoys for its heroines. “Too much of entertainment is a boys’ club.” As a father of two girls, “It’s great to see a good smart-girl power show.”
Baker is eager to see how The Clone Wars play out. “It can’t help in some ways to get darker and heavier … because it just — it does not go well in Episode III at that point.”
In the Star Wars movie Episode III: Return of the Sith, the Clones turn on the good-guy Jedi and slaughter them on orders from the evil Emperor.
Baker’s in awe of Star Wars creator George Lucas, who “just singlehandedly built an animation studio company without any involvement from anybody … Nobody does that!” Baker says Lucas is “involved in all aspects of [The Clone Wars]. He has weekly meetings on it, he’s on the phone with Dave (Filoni, supervising producer), he’s watching the dailies.”