Femme of the Force: Adrienne Wilkinson

February 7, 2011

By Bonnie Burton

Adrienne Wilkinson, who played Maris Brood in The Force Unleashed video game and as Livia in Xena: Warrior Princess, returns to the Star Wars universe in the Mortis trilogy of The Clone Wars.

Joined by her Force Unleashed co-star Sam Witwer (Starkiller) as the Son who embodies of the dark side of the Force, Wilkinson plays the Daughter, an embodiment of the light side as counterbalance. But what happens when the Force is thrown out of whack when Anakin Skywalker must choose sides on a mysterious planet riddled with visions of what may or may not come to pass?

StarWars.com chats with Wilkinson about her work in The Clone Wars, how she interpreted her mysterious role, how it differs from her role as Maris Brood in The Force Unleashed, and why the Force is too epic for just one explanation.

What was your initial reaction when you were asked to be part of The Clone Wars?

First of all, they could have asked me to do any role and I would have jumped at it. I'm so excited to be part of The Clone Wars. I'd been wanting to be on the show for a while. When these episodes came up they were very secretive about the details. And it was a complete surprise to me that Sam Witwer and I would be working together again, so that was incredible. A lot of time in animation you don't get to record with the entire cast in one room and get to play off each other, and to record it from beginning to end. For Sam and I, we learned about our characters in the episodes as we went along. It was so secretive and brand new; they had just worked it out. We didn't get pages until we actually got there on the day to record.

Did you see what your character of the Daughter looked like before you voiced her?

We got to see one page of concept art of each of our characters. They were very specific about how the Force was represented physically in each of us. We definitely had a bit of something to go on beforehand. I certainly used it as inspiration, and I'm sure they did as well. It was a lucky treat that we were able to see those images and have those shared with us.

How was it working with Sam again but this time as siblings?

Sam and I joke that we can't get a job together unless we're fighting! We both approach material from the same sort of areas. We work really well together and there's an easiness to it. We both fell into it again right from the table read. When we asked Dave Filoni if he had any feedback or needed tweaks, he was just very happy with our performances, which thrilled both of us to no end.

How as an actress did you approach tackling such an important role that is so steeped in mystery with such little preparation?

The best thing I can do is respect the material. When we found out what it was that we were portraying and how integral the information was to the story, all we could do was just simplify it the best we could and present everything with a sort of grace and levity. This family called "The Ones" are almost god-like. They are so full of strength because they are so confident in the Force that they can wield. And it's this strength we were trying to show in our performances of these characters. I didn't want there to be anything overtly girly about her. I wanted to make her as grounded as she could possibly be.

Having played Maris Brood in The Force Unleashed, how does the Daughter differ or compare?

They are similar characters in that they both have an innate strength and are both powerful women. Of course, they have many differences as well. Maris is young and quite impetuous, as opposed to the Daughter.

LucasArts had this incredible back-story written for Maris that detailed this past that explained why she often straddled the line between good and evil. Maris manipulated her way through the story for her survival. She was a kind of pirate who looted for good. She's a more complicated character than the Daughter.

The Daughter seems very "by the book" and not so flexible in thinking beyond her own ideals.

I think those human complications don't even enter her world. The Ones were described to us as a mix of gods and supreme royalty. In either of those cases you have beings that are removed from the everyday human issues that most characters would have to be dealing with.

What did you think of the Mortis episodes, and the idea of these higher beings acting as the embodiment of different aspects of the Force?

When you a have a history within the Star Wars universe, and also have the fan base be so knowledgeable, I think it's brilliant to introduce this type of idea in a way that didn't have any history. This information about the Force was deserving of clarity, and inventing these two characters to deliver it added something not only to Anakin's journey and the overall storytelling, but it completely reimagines and reintroduces the Force in a way that sort of reminds you how big the Force is. You're talking about something that is so epic that it transcends the storylines that have been told about the Force so far. As much as we think we already know about the Force, there's so much more.

With so many women and little girls watching The Clone Wars, why do you think it's so important to have shows that feature strong, dynamic female characters?

I think it's imperative for all sci-fi shows, not just The Clone Wars, to have strong female characters. It's important to have these kinds of role models out there. All of us know that small things can have an enormous impact on our lives -- how we see the world and how we see ourselves and our expectations of what we are capable of.

When you have strong characters in a story, you have such a great opportunity to influence others. You do that by showing the heroics of a character, showing the character overcome incredible odds, and by showcasing the complexity of human nature. People do fall, but you also get see them survive, regroup and conquer. And there is absolutely nothing about that that is specific only to men.

Everyone (men and women) likes to see characters give it their all and triumph at the end. It's something in human nature that feeds our souls. I'm blessed, in Star Wars and otherwise, that I've been able to play these characters who are complicated and messy, but incredible women. You can sort of look at your career and think of it as silly pop culture, or what not. But the thing is there are these moments that just resonate with all of us.

A line of dialog gets written that you needed to hear at that exact moment that completely changes your thought process about a situation. Or you see a character handle something that was a release for you emotionally or helped give you clarity on a problem in your own life. Or maybe even if it's just escapist, there's just something about being able to affect people's lives in that way that is an utter blessing.

I've gotten to do a lot of fan conventions. And there's this one little girl I've met at several of them, and every single time I see her she's in a different Star Wars outfit. And only about half the time is she in what is traditionally considered a female outfit, but she still personalizes it to make it her own. She'll show up dressed as a stormtrooper but four or five of the pieces are lavender. And it's just adorable to me. You see it in her that it doesn't even cross her mind that that's out of the ordinary.

Have you seen fans dressed as Maris Brood at conventions?

I have! There's a girl named Frankie who I've seen at a few conventions who has really worked hard on her costume. I love that! It's so incredible when fans do that. It just shows you how much people love Star Wars.

Now you can look forward to seeing fans dressed as the Daughter next!

I can't wait!

Find out where you can see next with updates on her official site and Twitter.