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Lots of changes ahead in a new season of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dave Filoni, 36, supervising director of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” promises lots of character development in its third season, which begins Sept. 17 on the Cartoon Network.

“In the opening scroll of 2005's 'Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith,' it says, 'There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere,'” Filoni said in a recent interview. “I can say that this season, we're going to get into that a lot more. I think it's a necessary point of the clone wars. And the audience will have a much better understanding of what the clone war really is when we're done with Season 3.”

Filoni talked about the new season at Celebration V, the mega Star Wars convention held in Orlando in August.

In the series, the good guy Jedi commanders — Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker — and their clone troops fight against the 'droid armies of the evil renegade Jedi Count Dooku. Other major characters include Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, or “padawan,” Ahsoka Tano, and the clone leaders, Captain Rex and Commander Cody.

It was filmmaker George Lucas' idea to create Tano. “George came right in and said, 'I want Anakin to have a padawan. We're going to use this girl here, we'll call her Ahsoka.' It was just something he wanted to explore.” Filoni adds, “We see her evolve and mature.”

Filoni points out that there was 'always a strong female presence in the Clone Wars.' He cites Duchess Satine Kryze, who is faced with an almost impossible task of reforming a warlike society on Mandalore. “She is the elected ruler of what was a war-like society that is trying, for its own survival, not to be what they were — to fight against this instinct to be warriors.”

Filoni's parents introduced him to science fiction and fantasy at a young age. “My mother always had 'Lord of the Rings' around when I was a kid. She'd sit up read me 'The Hobbit.' She had books like ‘Childhood's End' (by Arthur C. Clark). She had 'Dune' (by Frank Herbert).”

They also exposed him to a wide range of classics, such as Ingmar Bergman's film “The Seventh Seal” and composer Richard Wagner's Ring cycle. “They were very into opera. My father would play me Holst's ‘The Planets' and compare that to what (composer) John Williams is doing.”

His earliest memory of the original “Star Wars,” seen at age 4, was “sitting in the back of our car, pretending to shoot the other cars like they were TIE fighters. My brother was Han and I was Luke.” He played with a Death Star Space Station set with foam blocks and a crank to make the trash compactor work. “That was the big movie franchise of my childhood.”

He's very fond of the clones, especially Captain Rex, who reports to Anakin Skywalker. “Rex, to me, is the other pivotal character in that we don't know what happens to Rex. We hit right off the bat with the clones this year and I'm very happy with it.”

He and Lucas have discussed going further into the individual personalities of the clones. “Anakin factors into that with Rex because he's different for a Jedi, so you have to think that his clone commander, his captain, would be different by being a friend of his.”

Filoni concludes, “In fact I would say, that for the audience, they almost identify the most with them. They don't have a magic sword or powers that are going to be out there save themselves. They're out there on the front line, giving their all.”

Season 3 of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” premieres at 9 p.m. EDT Friday on the Cartoon Network.

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