An interview with Catherine Taber
In July 2010 TeeKay was able to interview Catherine Taber for an interview that was published first in TeeKay Magazine 53. Catherine Taber is the actress who is the voice of Padmé Amidala (and other characters) in the Clone Wars, but she has done a lot of other very exciting Star Wars and non-Star Wars work. To promote the start of Clone Wars Season 3, we proudly present the interview (not translated into Dutch) with Catherine.
Interview: Tim Veekhoven
TeeKay-421: When and how did you decide to become an actress? What was your favourite film and did you have any favourite actors or actresses that were role models to you?
Catherine Taber: I wanted to be an actress from a very early age. I just always knew. I love sci-fi and fantasy, so it goes without saying that Star Wars has always been a personal favourite. I also love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Legend, and I guess the Southern girl in me also adores Gone With the Wind. I am a big Vivien Leigh fan, and whenever someone tells me I look like “Scarlet O’hara” I want to hug them! I also really like Catherine Zeta Jones and I think Helen Mirren is flawless! Of course, I am a huge fan of Harrison Ford and I love Dennis Leary. Love him.
TeeKay-421: You are often called ‘The Geek Goddess’. Where does that nickname come from?
Catherine Taber: Well, as you can tell, much of what I am drawn to has been classically considered “geeky” – science fiction and fantasy, you know. I believe it was the UK Daily Record that first referred to me as a “Geek Goddess”, and it just stuck. I’ve gotten used to it now and, for me, I’ve found it to be a term of endearment that is honestly very flattering because I am very proud of the sci-fi community and honoured to have a place here.
TeeKay-421: In 2003 you were cast as the voice of Mission Vao, one of the characters in the very popular game ‘Knights of the Old Republic’. Before you got cast, how much of a Star Wars fan were you?
Catherine Taber: Well, I knew what “head tails” were! So, I guess I was a pretty big fan! I really think that is one of the things that helped me land the job. It was only my second voice over audition ever and my very first voice job. Pretty cool start.
TeeKay-421: Did you receive a lot of background info on ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ and your character? Was it difficult to imagine a world that took place long before the movies?
Catherine Taber: I knew Mission’s history and I just thought of how those events would have shaped her as a kid, alone in the world, wanting to appear cool and tough to everyone. It was actually really fun to go that far back into Star Wars history. Some of it we even got to sort of make up as we went along. I remember there was a part in the script where I said something about eating pretzels. We were like – wait, they wouldn’t have had pretzels, and that is how the “Tarisian Ale Nut” was born. We were all laughing, thinking we would show up at a convention someday and see Tarisian Ale Nuts for sale! I’m still waiting…
TeeKay-421: How do you feel about KotOR’s ongoing success?
Catherine Taber: I am so proud to have been a part of such an amazing game. I think it really set a new standard for games. I hear from Mission fans all the time. In fact, I think we are going to have some Mission Vao autographs at Celebration V this year because fans kept asking for her!
TeeKay-421: You returned to the world of SW Games with ‘The Force Unleashed’. How did you get the part of Leia Organa?
Catherine Taber: I had heard they were having a hard time casting the part of Young Leia, which is small but pivotal. I wanted to audition, but Lucas Arts knew me as Mission, a young punky kid, and didn’t read me right away. Finally, my agent got a call from them, saying lets give Cat a shot. I know Carrie Fisher has a gruffer voice than I do, but my Leia is younger than in the film and I really felt like I knew her character. Luckily they agreed! Also, I wore my hair in buns to my agent’s office for the audition. You know, things like that might be contributing to the “Geek Goddess” title now that I think about it!
TeeKay-421: Did you record the sessions for TFU with the other actors?
Catherine Taber: No, sadly for me those guys had already finished most of their stuff by the time I came on board. But I have met all of them. Such a talented cast. I mean, Sam is amazing in the game, and they all such great people.
TeeKay-421: How did you prepare yourself for this role because a lot of fans both loved the game and Leia’s appearance.
Catherine Taber: Even though I really felt like I knew her so well already, I watched as much Leia as I could! Not to mention, it gave me yet another reason to go back and watch some of my favourite films yet again! On top of that, I get to call it work! I can literally be watching Star Wars and tell people that I am busy working. How cool is my job?!
TeeKay-421:If I’m not mistaken, you’re also involved in ‘The Old Republic’. Is there anything you can tell us about that experience?
Catherine Taber: Not if I want to stay involved! But really, I am so excited for that game for many reasons – I can’t wait to play it! Have you seen the latest trailer? WOW.
TeeKay-421: When did you first learn about the Clone Wars?
Catherine Taber: I got a call for the audition a few years ago. The audition was full of major voice and on camera actresses. I was still very new so was pretty humbled to be in the mix! And grateful to my agent!
TeeKay-421: When you auditioned, did you only audition for Padmé or did you also audition for other characters?
Catherine Taber: Just Padmé. In fact, my agent told the casting director I WAS Padmé! I took that as such a huge compliment. Again, perhaps a little early on Geek Goddess slipping out. I can’t help it.
TeeKay-421: How did you feel when it was certain that you were going to be Padmé?
Catherine Taber: Lucky and grateful. Really, WOW, I was just floored. It took some getting used to.
TeeKay-421: Did you study Natalie Portman’s performance in the movies or did you do what you felt was right?
Catherine Taber: I studied the films and the Star Wars database for more history and information in her childhood and life was not included in the films. I also looked at Leia some more because I wanted to incorporate pieces of her. Then I took all that and tried to make her my own.
TeeKay-421: Did you like the fact that Clone Wars first became a movie?
Catherine Taber: It was a big happy surprise for us! And it was so exciting to have it premiere in Hollywood. That is the day I got to Meet Mr. Lucas and shake his hand. There are no words to describe this.
TeeKay-421: Can you tell us a bit more about your colleagues from the Clone Wars?
Catherine Taber: Ashley calls us her “Clone Wars Family” and that is really and truly how it is. I am blessed to work with these people – Lucasfilm somehow assembled a group of not only talented, but also really good people. Think about when you were a kid, playing these characters on the playground with your best friends. That is exactly what it is like. We have so much fun; getting paid to do it is still very surreal.
TeeKay-421: In the series, Padmé is married to Anakin. Does this have any effect on the way you and Matt Lanter work together?
Catherine Taber: We’ve had great chemistry from the start and have some other things in common, not the least of which we are both Atlanta Braves fans. It has always been very easy and natural to play that love relationship with him. He is a really great actor and a really great guy.
TeeKay-421: What’s Dave Filoni like as a director?
Catherine Taber: I know it sounds must sound like I am gushing here, but Dave is the best director I have worked with, across the board. He knows what he wants, how to express his vision to us, and he really cares about the Star Wars. He listens and welcomes input, which is so great to have in a relationship between actors and their director. Also, we are both big animal lovers, so I really enjoy talking to him even when its not Star Wars related. I’m looking forward to working with and knowing him for a long time. Whatever Dave is doing, I am there.
TeeKay-421: What has been your favourite episode of Season 1 and of Season 2?
Catherine Taber: In Season 1 I love ‘Rookies’, ‘Innocents of Ryloth’ and ‘Bombad Jedi’. Season 2 I really enjoyed the Mandolorian Arc, I loved seeing the Obi Wan / Satine relationship. Senate Spy was awesome because I love that Noir feel and the introduction of Clovis was great. Those scenes were so fun to play! Did you ask for one per season? That’s just way too difficult for me.
TeeKay-421: How do you feel about the episodes where Padmé’s in? I like them a lot because they tend to be different and they’re often about politics and the Senate.
Catherine Taber: I love the mystery and intrigue of the Padmé episodes. Some of the themes are the most mature, and fans tell me all the time they love that dynamic. Of course, we always make sure to get some action in there too. I need to fire a blaster at least once per episode, or get a good punch in there. Padmé is no wallflower?!
TeeKay-421: Can you tell us about the difference between doing the voice of Leia (TFU) and Padmé?
Catherine Taber: Leia is younger and more brash. She has very little tact; I always say she is a perfect blend of her parents! Padmé is equally brave, maybe even more so at the end of the day, but she is very deliberate and thoughtful. Her years in Politics have shaped her that way. She is just less impetuous, that is until Anakin is in the picture, then all bets are off! Her heart wins out over her head!
TeeKay-421: What was your reaction when you saw ‘Clone Wars’ Padmé merchandising like action figures, T-shirts, posters and trading cards?
Catherine Taber: I made some more space in my office! I don’t have a Padmé shirt yet, but Ashley Eckstein (aka Ahsoka) has an amazing new t-shirt line for female sci fi fans, www.heruniverse.com, and the Padmé shirt is so beautiful! I can’t wait to get one! You’ll see me in it VERY soon!
TeeKay-421: Beside Padmé’s, what other voices have you provided for the Clone Wars?
Catherine Taber: I was the Angel of Iego, several ‘Betty Droids’ and my mom’s all time favorite Numa, the young Twi’lek in ‘Innocents of Ryloth’.
TeeKay-421:Is there anything you could possibly tell us about Clone Wars Season 3?
Catherine Taber: I can tell you that quite a few secrets are revealed this season. It’s basically a mini-Star Wars movie each week. I can’t wait for the fall!
TeeKay-421: In ‘Final Fantasy XII’ you were Penelo. Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Your website says you even have a dog named Penelo.
Catherine Taber: It’s Penelo Zissou Amidala Taber, actually! I was working on the game when I adopted her and the name Penelo just fit! The character is optimistic, full of life and innocent, but also strong and confident. Just like my Jack Russell!
TeeKay-421: Were you familiar with the ‘Final Fantasy’ Game franchise?
Catherine Taber: A bit. You know, James Arnold Taylor was in 2 ‘Final Fantasy’ Games. Someone made a fun fan video of Penelo and his character, Tidus on Youtube!
TeeKay-421: You were also involved in ‘X-Men’ and ‘Avatar’-games. What universe or franchise would you love to work in?
Catherine Taber: Well, I love all things super hero, especially Wonder Woman. I am a huge fan of Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, and would love to be a part of the New Hobbit movie, especially if Peter Jackson ends up directing! I also really love the novels from ‘The Live Ship Trader’ Trilogy and if they are ever made into films it would be another dream come true to play Althea.
TeeKay-421: You truly have a wonderful website. Both you and Ashley Eckstein seem to share a love for ‘Alice in Wonderland’. What do you like about it so much?
Catherine Taber: Oh thank you so much. I am proud of the site and I am so glad when people enjoy it! I just love Alice as character; she is so bold and curious. The world created by Lewis Carroll is just so magical and dark and fascinating. Ashley and I talk about it a lot and she has quite a collection, much bigger than mine – she prefers the Disney Alice and I like the darker strange Alice. It is just another fun thing we have in common!
Thanks so much for talking with me all the way from Belgium, not quite a galaxy far, far away…but it’s really great to know we are reaching fans across the world! May the Force be with you!