Who Is the Stunt Woman Who Mo-Capped Ahsoka Tano Against Ray Park’s Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
Raise your lightsaber if you know Ahsoka Tano, a famed Force-warrior of the Star Wars galaxy. For those who are only familiar with the Star Wars live-action films, the red-hued head-tailed humanoid Ahsoka is a star of the CGI The Clone Wars cartoon series, George Lucas’s animated spin-off of the Star Wars Prequel trilogy, and she has the honor of serving as the Jedi apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, the man who will become the iconic Darth Vader.
Giving the Star Wars Skywalker lead a Jedi apprentice who was never seen in the live-action trilogies was a huge risk even for expanded canon television. Which is why it was a pleasant breakthrough when Ahsoka paid dividends as a non-movie Star Wars character that catapulted to renown in over six seasons from 2008 to 2014 and then its revival seventh season on Disney+ in 2020. And her importance as one of the first centralized — not booted in the background and has a succession of her own story arcs — female Jedi on the Star Wars screen before Rey in The Force Awakens cannot be understated.
If you were sitting in-person at the Chicago Star Wars Celebration in 2019 at the Clone Wars final season panel, you heard the crowd roar over the news that Ray Park, the martial artist-actor who donned the red make-up as the Zabrak Sith Darth Maul in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, was going to reprise this character in The Clone Wars final story arc in a lightsaber fight with Ahsoka Tano.
This wasn’t the first time motion-capture was used in Clone Wars, but it was apparently the first time it was used for a lightsaber fight. According to Star Wars News Net, motion-capture was present in a fight sequence between Wookiees and the Trandoshans. Not every motion-capture was used, with the animators studying and imitating the physicality rather than directly importing 100% of the performers’ movements.
Not surprisingly, Ray Park has raked in the fandom joy and the hype since he is such an alumni of Star Wars who played that memorably devilishly red villain. But amid all the rejoicing, there was another story I pondered over: If Park was the motion-capture performer for Maul, then who performed for Ahsoka Tano? Who was that person who assumed the physical role of the animated Ahsoka and stared down Ray Park?
I had to wait for an agonizing year until I could dig out the name: Lauren Mary Kim, credited as “Ahsoka Tano Performance” in the end credits of the third-to-last Clone Wars episode “Phantom Apprentice.”
While Ashley Eckstein voiced the iconic padawan of Anakin Skywalker through Clone Wars, the 2014 successor show Star Wars Rebels, and even a vocal cameo in the Sequel Trilogy concluding Rise of Skywalker, Kim is the motion-captured (or simply modeled-after rather than 100% importing the movements) performer for the pivotal CGI lightsaber duel of “The Phantom Apprentice” with her bashing Ahsoka’s two-lightsabers against Ray Park’s Darth Maul red double-blade.
Her IMDb page unravels an impressive stunt work from movies to television: Fast and Furious 7, Daredevil, Westworld, Alita: Battle Angel, etc. Star Wars fans know her as the stunt double for Emily Swallows’s character, the Armorer, on The Mandalorian tv show. That sequence where the Armorer single-handedly overpowers five stormtroopers with smelting tools? That has to be Kim in the beskar armor.
Kim’s origin story is quite interesting. According to her Women in Stunts profile, her stunt work studies started with the intentions of a dance career. Her gymnastic class was run by stuntman and gymnastics expert Mike Washlake, and Kim was taken to the “Ninja Hour” where she accumulated the kicks and punches that will define her career.
As it is for the life of women in the film industry, Kim’s roles often involved female-objectifying wardrobes, assigning her to high heels and skin-tight clothing and the part of hookers and “naked girl running through the woods.” It reminds me of how Ahsoka was an 14-year-old-girl when she debuted wearing a tube top. And according to the 2009 Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, animator Dave Filoni attempted to give her a more age-appropriate outfit, then “[George Lucas] gave her the tube top.”
Tellingly, when Lucas departed from creative charge of Star Wars, Ahsoka received appropriate apparel upgrades, doing away with the tube top and boob window.
Anyhow, I hope Kim knows, what an awesome honor it is to be Ahsoka Tano. I think you’ll be best friends.