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While Star Wars eliminated the existing expanded universe when they took over the property from George Lucas, they've been slowly building it back up with their own material since then. If there's a benefit to that, it's that some of this material may be more important to the main movies than it ever was before. We already know of at least one character who will be making their feature film debut soon, after being introduced in an animated series, but it looks like there may be opportunities for the other animated series Star Wars Rebels to influence the movies as well.
The Star Wars expanded universe got absolutely massive with all the novels and comic books created, but it was mostly an entity unto itself. Nothing written in a Star Wars novel ever led to a character showing up in a movie (though some names created in the books did end up in the prequels). With the news that Forest Whitaker will be playing the part of Saw Gerrera, a character first seen in the Star Wars: Clone Wars series, it became clear that Disney did not see the material beyond the films as separate. Simon Kinberg, producer of the Star Wars Rebels animated series, recently told Empire that similar crossovers could occur for his show, going in both directions.
What's lovely is we've brought in characters from Clone Wars in the second season, and we keep bringing characters from the original movies and deepening the relationships between our core characters, the Ghost crew. ... [We're] trying to balance the two different things, like the original cast from the first season with Clone Wars, with characters from the original movies, and maybe even feeding into future movies.
We've already seen some characters from the original Star Wars trilogy appear on Star Wars Rebels, but the idea that things could go in the other direction is a new wrinkle. It's likely an exciting one for fans of the series, as the idea that their favorite characters could make appearances in live action could be very exciting. For fans of the larger Star Wars franchise (and isn't that pretty much everybody these days?), it means that every aspect of the story can feel like a real, and vital, part of the larger tale. What happens in Star Wars Rebels can have a potential impact on the characters in the films, even if the events are unseen.
The idea that Star Wars Rebels characters could end up in the films opens up an entirely new area of speculation. Every casting announcement in a new film could be the live-action version of characters we already know. Who would be your dream casting choice for you favorite character from Rebels? Let us know in the comments.