EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Marshall Talks STAR WARS REBELS Season 3, Hera Vs. Gamora, And Previews Final Season

Ahead of the release of Star Wars Rebels season three on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, we sat down with Vanessa Marshall (Hera) to discuss her role in the series and what's coming in the show's final year...

Season three of Star Wars Rebels is set to be released on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow and Lucasfilm was kind enough to give ComicBookMovie.com the chance to sit down with Vanessa Marshall last week to discuss her role in the Disney XD series. She plays fan-favourite pilot Hera in the show and addressed everything from season three's most memorable moments to the upcoming fourth and final season. 

Vanessa also provides a fascinating look into the work which goes into the show to make it a reality and takes the time to address what she believes would happen if Hera crossed paths with Gamora, another popular character she voices in a variety of animated TV shows and video game franchises. Don't forget that you can also find her thoughts on Hera's cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by clicking here.

Scroll down for more and pick up Star Wars Rebels season three on DVD and Blu-ray from tomorrow!

Going back to the very beginning, what were your first impressions of Hera when you were first approached for the role and how have those changed, particularly after season three? 
Well, I still have just as much respect for her as I did when I read her first description and maybe even more given all she's managed to accomplish in the three seasons. If anything, my affection for her has grown but I started in such a great place by being completely fond of her. I love how she combines the ability to nurture those around her with an incredible ability to fly and her combat skills are impressive at the same time. She's quite a female icon for people to look up to, including myself, so I think that's only grown over the three seasons.
How does it feel to portray such a strong female character and was that important to you when you signed up to star in the series? 
Absolutely, it's an honour. I aspire to be more like Hera on a daily basis. Her ability to focus and not take things personally, do what's best for the group, put the team first and all these values that are so admirable and come as second nature to her. I love that little girls have such an incredible character to look up to and emulate...and I do too [Laughs].
In season three, we saw Hera take on more of a leadership role; what about that was exciting for you to explore?
For sure, she's always been the silent leader and in season one at least, she always had more information than her crew mates and only delivered the important pieces of information to them to get the mission completed. As it went along, it became obviously very clear that she knows exactly what's going on and it was cool for her to come out of the shadows and own that a bit more and get recognised for her talents and abilities. I think that's something we all strive for in life so it was rewarding for me as an actor to explore this character arc for her and really enjoy it, live within it, and be empowered by it myself. It was very exciting. 
One of the best episodes this season was obviously “Hera's Heroes”; how did you feel about Hera getting the spotlight in such a significant way there?
It was fantastic! She deserves it and I'm always blown away by the writing. Every episode that we get is spectacular and that was yet another one. It's always an honour to suit up, show up and play with my fellow actors. When she takes centre stage and really deals with her past and we explore where she's come from and where she's willing to go, it's just so rich and wonderful. I think it's great for the viewer and it's really so much fun for me and the cast. Every episode that's focused on each character, we're all delighted to learn more about Sabine, and Zeb's background. That scene with Thrawn still haunts me. That music was brilliant when he's walking behind her. It gave me chills. It's one thing to record it but is another to see it come together with the animation. What they do with the entirety of the production is so powerful so it was fun to perform and fun to watch. 
One of my favourite scenes was Thrawn's interrogation of Hera; can you take us through what it was like working on that sequence?
I worked by myself recording it and so was only imagining it but I truly experienced that while watching it. I use my imagination a lot while recording alone and that often happens, especially with actors in different countries doing different jobs. We read alone and are able to do that much like in video games where that's more of the norm. It was kind of cool to use my imagination in front of the microphone but to see it come together, hear what he was giving her and that my reactions managed to sync up with that (and my imagination) was pretty thrilling. And it made it even scarier to watch. It was magical! 
Talking of tense confrontations, Hera's interactions with Darth Maul were another highlight of the season; what was that like for you? 
Sam Witwer was there in the studio and he creeps me out. He's such a loveable guy when he's not Darth Maul but the way he uses every single syllable to his advantage is just masterful. On the one hand, I'm blown away by his work in the moment, thinking to myself 'Man, what did he eat for breakfast? This guy is a genius!'  and obviously, letting the character of Hera take that in as well and let it strengthen her resolve to fight against him is great. Watching it come together was also amazing because nothing can prepare you for those eyes. When you see his yellow eyes, it's terrifying! 
When it comes to your performance, do you prefer working alone or with other actors?
Working with other actors, definitely. We have so much fun together. We play around and kid with each other and have become like a wonderful, real family. Then, we get serious and get down to business and deal with the task at hand. I think it's just more fun to play off each other and I prefer that.
Hera obviously has a lot of action scenes; what challenges do those present when you're working in the recording booth?
It's really creating a soundscape for the listener and it's not unusual in many animated series to create sounds of running or sounds of hits or falls, acting a scene out as if you're mid-battle and the stakes are really high. We learn how to affect those sounds without actually punching people and it comes with the territory and is part of the whole magic of the thing as well. When we're all going for it and screaming at each other, it really feels like we're still playing with our action figures but it's actually our job [Laughs].
It also seems like there were some hints of romance between Hera and Kanan this season and in the season four trailer; is that something you'd be interested in exploring down the line?
Definitely. It's clear that they have an affection for each other as friends and that they care very much about each other and I think it will be wonderful to see them maybe discuss things. I'm not allowed to say anything and furthermore haven't seen much of it [Laughs] so can't really speak on it but I am very excited to see that storyline develop and see if anything happens there. I think that will be satisfying for a number of people saying that they're space married and hashtag “Kanhera” and all that stuff. 
There was also a shot of Hera wearing the classic X-Wing pilot uniform; is there anything you can tell us about that? 
Oh my Gosh, yeah, it was very, very cool! There are a number of moments like in season four where my mind is blown. It's really been like that throughout all four seasons. The hits keep coming and it's really exciting. 
Talking of season four, what can you tell fans about what to expect and why they should tune in?
Oh man, I would say that every lingering question you have will be answered and I think all fans will be incredibly satisfied no matter which angle they're coming from. That's my belief; that there's a little something for everyone in season four and it's a wild ride. I'd say 'Buckle up, get ready, and tune in!' 
Sadly, it's been confirmed that season four will be the show's last; how did you feel when you found out that the story is wrapping up?
I was happy that we get to have a proper ending. I'm a huge fan of The Clone Wars and I would have loved to see that continue and actually never end but I think it's very satisfying that we get to have a beginning, middle, and end. I think it's a really elegant and lovely gift and there was only so much narrative to begin with, going between Episodes III and IV. We sort of knew this day would come and so long as it serves the overall narrative, that's all that matters. Whether it's in four seasons or five seasons or six seasons, the important thing is that the story is told the way it was meant to be told. I think that's exactly what's happening so I'm very grateful for that. 
It's hard to imagine there not being another Star Wars animated series down the line; depending on when it takes place, is reprising the role of Hera something you'd like to do? 
Of course! I would do anything. All things Star Wars are for me, for sure. I'm excited to see all the different things that are coming out. Every Christmas is made even better by each subsequent film that comes out in December so I'm so excited for that. And Forces of Destiny is a wonderful thing to be involved with as well and I'm looking forward to seeing more of those episodes and how they come together. It's been wonderful to be involved with the LEGO Freemaker storylines as LEGO Hera too! So, who know, I'm up for any and all of it!
Talking of Forces of Destiny, can you tell us what your involvement in that has been?
I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say to be honest but I can tell you what Forces of Destiny is. They're a very special series of episodes focusing on many of the fantastic female characters in the Star Wars narrative and they're featured online. There are a series of action figures which correlate with the episodes that are being released as each episode is being aired. It's thrilling to see each one and to then get the action figure. Again, it's great to see these fantastic icons for younger girls to really emulate and investigate and see what fits, try them on, and play with the dolls. I think it's a really exciting time to be a Star Wars fan for that reason as they're focusing on these incredibly strong women. It's beneficial for everyone; men and women alike. They're great human beings so it applies to us all.
With the Star Wars franchise bringing in more female characters to take the property in a new direction for modern audiences, how does it feel to have been part of that? 
I'm incredibly proud! 
Looking back over season three, what stands out as your favourite moment involving Hera?
Not really! The entire season was pretty magical and Thrawn was very disturbing. I think the moments she was dealing with her Kalikori, being willing to give up her family history basically and blow the whole place up, I think that was very momentous for her to return to the ship with her Kalikori and realise that he true family was the one she had created. I think that's something it's been about all along. The power of creating a family whose bonds are stronger than blood in a way. I was impressed with the entire narrative for the entire season but perhaps Thrawn stood out a bit more because the way he speaks is so frightening! 
You've obviously also voiced Gamora for a number of different Marvel projects so I have to ask; Hera vs. Gamora – who wins?
That's a really tough one but I don't think they'd actually fight each other. I think they would sit down and have a chat about all this violence at hand and what they could do to make it better because Gamora is not an intrinsically evil person or someone who is wired to fight. She was trained to become a fighter for the wrong reasons and I think she's seeking redemption and would rather not fight anyone ever again. Hera is only inspired to pick up a gun when it's time to protect innocent people. Given that neither is wired or prone to violence, I think they would literally sit down and say, 'What can we do to make the world better? What do you think?' It would be about that together and taking the gloves off. It would be a much more productive outing [Laughs]. 
Regardless of Hera's future, how do you hope fans will look back at her legacy as a character?
Well, there's a phrase that she said to Ezra while comforting him and it was 'We have hope.' For me, looking back at everything, that phrase sticks with me. She's an eternal optimist and I think that's really important and the way she's never disheartened by any of the odds and manages to pull herself up to face any and every situation and to sacrifice herself. I hope people take away the idea of always having hope in the darkest of times. The world is a fascinating place right now so I certainly draw on that concept quite a bit. I would say Hera represents that ideal to the fullest extent and hopefully people will take that away, find inspiration in their own lives, and find the hope they need to persevere. 
How has it been for you to attend events like Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration to come face to face with the franchise's dedicated fan base?
It's been so wonderful and I've made friends who are now friends for life and feel like family. The hashtag “Star Wars Family” is a real thing and I'm so grateful for the passion and true commitment to George Lucas and his legacy and everything that has yet to be revealed to all of us. It's such an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan and to be there right in the middle of it, the energy is just palpable and it's exhilarating, honestly. I'm so grateful! 
Going back to Hera's future, what do you hope becomes of the character? 
I'm waiting to find out actually! I'd love to know. It's a wonderful question and hopefully, it gets answered. 
Why should fans pick up season three?
Not only are the extras fantastic and I think everyone will enjoy them but to have every single episode at your fingertips with such high-quality technology, I know that when I get mine, I'm going to be very busy for a very long time watching it over and over again! I like to own things as I have every single thing on Blu-ray or DVD for that reason and this one, in particular, is well worth the purchase!
Image result for star wars rebels season 3 blu ray
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