Disclaimer: Disney*Pixar, Disney Channel and Disney XD sent me to Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for my coverage of these events, which included the screening of LEGO Star Wars The Freemaker Adventures and interviews. All opinions are my own.
When big names like LEGO, Star Wars, Disney and Lucasfilm come together, you know it’s going to be BIG!
That’s exactly what has happened with the new the animated television series “LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures” premiering MONDAY, JUNE 20 (10:00 a.m. EDT), on Disney XD. I’ve got the scoop on the latest in the Star Wars universe and it’s good.
For parents, read this all the way through, as you might just discover how important this show could be to your kids and life in general. All the scoop in my interview with executive producers.
First stop was a visit to the Disney Channel building. We knew only the basic facts about LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, and since we were going to be interviewing the creators and main star, it was only fair that we watch an episode first…the PREMIERE episode.
So off to the screening room we went.
Let me give you the basic story –
Set between the events of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” the action comedy series follows the Freemakers, a family of sibling scavengers who operate a salvage and repair shop in space. The series will also feature familiar characters and locations from the filmed Star Wars saga and introduce new heroes and villains to the LEGO Star Wars universe.
Let me introduce the characters:
ROWAN FREEMAKER (voiced by Nicolas Cantu, who we met at the media event) is a spunky, Force-sensitive 12-year-old with a thirst for adventure and a clear sense of right and wrong. When the Freemakers need a moral beacon, Rowan is the one to light the way. Through the Force, he discovers the existence of the Kyber Saber, an ancient artifact with enormous power. The quest to find the missing pieces of the Kyber Saber throws Rowan and the Freemakers into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy.
KORDI FREEMAKER (voiced by Vanessa Lengies) is the brains of Freemaker Salvage and Repair. She picks their targets and charts their courses. Sixteen-year-old Kordi is smart, capable, quick-witted and can talk her way out of just about any jam the Freemakers get into. She’s always on the lookout for new business opportunities so that the Freemakers will have enough money to pay the rent on time.
ZANDER FREEMAKER (voiced by Eugene Byrd) is the oldest brother that every kid wants. He’s an 18-year-old ace pilot and charming rogue, and he brings the Freemakers to all the galaxy’s hot spots. His encyclopedic knowledge of starships allows him to identify just about any craft he sees. He’s a self-taught starship builder who rarely follows instructions but comes up with some ingenious creations. He tends to leap without looking, which often gets him and his siblings into trouble.
RO-GR a.k.a. Roger (voiced by Matthew Wood) is a rusty battle droid and veteran of the Clone Wars that the Freemaker family found sitting on top of a garbage heap. With a little re-programming, they turned him into a butler droid, which would be ideal if Roger were a better butler. He’s well-meaning but a self-contained chaos generator. Still, he’s genuinely useful and his firsthand experience dealing
The theme of good versus evil continues in this new realm of the Star Wars world. While the Freemaker family is new to us, you’ll know your way around this world with old familiar faces, good and bad.
Rowan discovers the Kyber Saber, an ancient artifact with a powerful connection to the Force. Their world is turned upside down as they are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. Throughout their adventures, the Freemakers learn the true value of what it means to be a family.
What surprised me most was how much I enjoyed it! This one is for the entire family – kids will love the LEGO branded characters combined with Star Wars story-ine, and adults will love the humor and the recognition of all things Star Wars, both old and new.
The show (and thinking ahead to future episodes) is really about empowering kids. As the producers mentioned, “You can face things that you think are overwhelming, things about yourself, about your circumstance and you can get through it. And you can be a hero even to yourself.”
For those of us who always are left with “wanting more” from Star Wars, LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures fills that void. Although, is that void ever completely filled?
I really had a unique experience as I got to sit down with executive producers Bill Motz and Bob Roth (“Penguins of Madagascar”), along with Nicolas Cantu, actor who voices Rowan Freemaker.
The excitement in the room was palpable. Funny thing is, the producers seemed to be among the biggest Star Wars fans around, so much so, that when given the ability to read the screenplay of Episode 7 so they could prepare for upcoming episodes in this new series, they asked that it be redacted as much as possible. They wanted to be surprised just like everyone else. I LOVE THAT! That is exactly who we want creating innovative new shows for our kids!
FUN FACT: Bill Motz and Bob Roth met at USC summer production workshop. Why did they go there? Because George Lucas did! It’s been a Star Wars friendship ever since.
Both Bill Motz and Bob Roth got emotional when talking about being a part of this Star Wars family. They had to keep mum for over a year on the project. Can you imagine how hard it was to do that? They remembered the joy they felt as kids and wanted to share that with others.
Oh, and the pressure and fear that came with working on a project like this. They felt it. Big time! In fact, they had decided not to take on this project because of the fear, but thanks to a friend, changed their minds at the very last minute. “Don’t be operating from this place of fear like because you will always regret it”. Great advice for any of us.
FUN FACT: Bill and Bob came up with the idea of the Freemaker scavenger family BEFORE they ever knew about the storyline of Episode 7. But it just happens to fit!
“Busted Junk” as they call it, was something they thought about with LEGOs. It’s so true…you play and put LEGOs together but at some point a piece breaks or it gets completely destroyed. As they mentioned, “The beauty of Lego is that’s not a ruined toy at that point, it’s just the beginning now”.
A Hero with ADHD
Executive producer Bob Roth got personal, telling us that he based two of the characters on his sons. His younger son, the basis of character Rowan Freemaker, the hero in the series. But here’s the thing – his son, and now the character Rowan, struggles with ADHD. You’ll really start to see it in the second episode. He won’t sit still. He has to touch everything. Though there are challenges, he’s still the hero.
Near the end of the interview, we had the opportunity to meet Nicolas Cantu, actor who voices Rowan Freemaker.
This 12 year old is just the cutest! I can see why they hired him on the spot!
“Star wars? It’s a dream come true. Lego? That’s like every kids dream ever. And you know being lucky enough to have this opportunity is really amazing. You know? It’s just, it’s the whole package though, a Disney show, Lego, Star Wars.”
“Having a toy of me? I might as well just retire! “
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Speaking of toys, while they don’t have The Freemaker Adventure name on it so that it would stay in keeping with the general Star Wars branded name, there are new LEGO sets with the Freemaker characters in them!
Thanks to Disney I got to bring them home, but shhhhh, don’t tell just yet, it’s a surprise for someone’s birthday!
I can’t wait to get my daughter watching this new series. I’ll be right there by her side. The first episode had a BIG ending. I’m hooked!
Want to see a peek?
Set the DVR: “LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures” will premiere MONDAY, JUNE 20 (10:00 a.m. EDT), on Disney XD!