Tom Baker may be known to a legion of sci-fi fans worldwide as the iconic fourth iteration of the Doctor, but the 82-year-old actor is returning to the genre in a major way later this month, voicing the Bendu in the third season of Star Wars Rebels.
It was first reported that Baker would be joining the cast of Star Wars Rebels last year, as the Inquisitr noted, but it wasn’t clear in what capacity he would do so until the trailer for the third season was revealed. Baker’s character is known as the Bendu (a name derived from George Lucas’ original name for the Jedi knights, Jedi Bendu, in the earliest drafts of Star Wars), a large, Yoda-like alien who is notably powerful in the force.
— Syfy (@Syfy) September 16, 2016
Unlike the Jedi and the Sith, however, the Bendu asserts that he is “in the middle” of the Force, standing between the Dark and Light sides. For Baker, the chance to join the Star Wars universe as this character was appealing, largely due to the way the Bendu was imagined by the show’s creative staff.
“The Bendu is described as a ‘life force,’ which is something we haven’t really seen before in Star Wars. He’s not the dark side or the light — he’s something greater. I’m quite flattered that (Rebels executive producer) Dave Filoni fancied me as a ‘life force’ at the age of 82.”
— Heroic Hollywood (@heroichollywood) September 15, 2016
According to USA Today, the Bendu is set to help Jedi Knight Kanan “get his groove back” in the third season of Rebels, following his injuries at the end of the show’s last season. Baker observed that there are distinct similarities between the Doctor and the Bendu, as each character is “all powerful” in their own ways.
“These adventures of The Doctor and Bendu are followed and loved by people who dream. Dreaming is so important, because anything can happen.”
— BBC Radio 4 (@BBCRadio4) September 9, 2016
Baker also pointed out that very little was told to him about either of the roles before he took them, in the case of Star Wars largely because of secrecy. The actor admits that when he sets out to take such a part, he doesn’t know all of the ways in which it might affect him; rather, he endeavors to “absorb everything around” him, while allowing the character to “drift” through him.
While exciting to fans, the Bendu is not the only notable addition to the Star Wars Rebels cast in the show’s third season. One of the expanded universe’s most iconic characters, tactical genius Grand Admiral Thrawn, is also set to appear in the new season, making his dramatic return to the saga’s official canon. As A.V. Club notes, the character was a fan favorite before he was unceremoniously erased from the official Star Wars history following Disney’s purchase of the franchise. Voiced by the brother of Mads Mikkelsen, who appears in this year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Thrawn’s return as primary antagonist is set to be followed by a standalone novel, written by the author who initially created him, Timothy Zahn.
— Tom McAuliffe (@TomMcAuliffe) September 3, 2016
Though he is a new addition to the Star Wars galaxy, Baker remembers seeing the first film while he was still in the midst of playing the Doctor. Sitting in a theater with producers, directors, and actors from the BBC, he remembers the crowd being “shattered with joy” at a film that was “beyond anything we’d seen.” With that memory well ensconced in his being, Tom Baker says now that joining the Star Wars saga in 2016 serves to make him “a happy man.”
[Featured Image by Dan Dennison/Getty Images]