When Pantoran Chairman Papanoida’s family is kidnapped and held for ransom, Ahsoka Tano must team up with Senator Riyo Chuchi to aid the new chairman in recovering his family. It’s a journey deep into the dark underbelly of the Coruscant crime scene, with an unlikely – and immediately recognizable – protagonist painted into a corner and forced into action in “Sphere of Influence,” an all-new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – airing at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, October 1 on Cartoon Network.
Seen only briefly as a background character in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, Papanoida will nonetheless appear very familiar to Star Wars fans, film buffs and pop culture aficionados. He is, of course, modeled after Star Wars creator George Lucas – who also wore blue face paint for the character’s live-action cameo debut.
“My appearance in Episode III was just for fun. Mostly, I did it for my kids,” says Lucas. “I was wrapping the series, and I’d never been on-screen in a Star Wars film, even though I’d been making them for decades. With The Clone Wars, I get the best of both worlds, because I get a starring role but don’t have to do any acting or wear any blue make-up.”
Lucas’ children – Amanda, Katie and Jett – also appeared with the director in the live-action outing, and they, too, make their Clone Wars debut in “Sphere of Influence.” None of the Lucas family provides voice-acting for the series, however; Jett’s doppelganger is voiced by Robot Chicken’s Seth Green, while Amanda and Katie’s avatars are voiced by Meredith Salenger (who also voices Barriss Offee) and Nika Futerman (Asajj Ventress), respectively. Lucas himself is voiced by Clone Wars regular Corey Burton (Count Dooku, Cad Bane) – who based the character’s distinctive sound on Orson Welles’ Harry Lime from The Third Man.
While Papanoida is featured fairly passively in his live-action incarnation, the character has an opportunity for a considerably more active role in The Clone Wars. Taking him deep into the Coruscant underground, the Pantoran Chairman’s mission gives him the chance to demonstrate his chops in a few decidedly action-oriented sequences.
“We actually made Papanoida into kind of an action hero,” says Dave Filoni, supervising director of The Clone Wars. “The bad guys have his family, and he goes after them, blasters blazing. Shoot first, ask questions later. His character is very focused on finding and protecting his kids; it’s a desperate situation, and he steps up. It’s a fun episode with a lot of action – and it’s unique, in that our normal heroes give up the spotlight while Papanoida takes matters into his own hands. This was a surreal episode to produce, since the guy on screen was sitting right next to me while we were making it.”