Ellen Dubin voiced Phasma in LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises, LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars, and the second season of Star Wars Resistance. Dubin also voiced a few characters in the Legends mobile game Star Wars: Uprising. Ellen answered a few questions via email for this interview.
What was your introduction to Star Wars?
I didn’t really grow up on the Star Wars culture. I wasn’t aware of the huge mythology surrounding the franchise till later on. But I do remember seeing the original movie when I was a kid with my dad and loving Princess Leia- her strength, her grit and her dry sense of humor. That combination really stuck with me in a female character and stayed with me.
Do you have a favorite character from any of the Star Wars films or TV series? If so have your favorites changed over time?
I think I have to go with the tried and true original Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher. I had never seen a female protagonist like that before. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is a character I am really embracing, too. I love her survival instinct and her journey as a character. I remember a quote from Daisy: ” She’s a normal girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, so it’s very relatable.” When you see a possibility in a character, that is very encouraging to me. It really motivates you.
On the other side, I love Darth Vader. The character is not just plain evil. There are multilayered reasons for this villain’s actions and that is compelling to me as an audience. Plus who can resist the incredible voice of James Earl Jones! It still resonates with me.
What are some of your favorite roles and projects from your career so far?
I have been very fortunate to play a wide variety of diverse roles in stage, film, TV, and voice-overs. I love being a chameleon in the parts I play.
I have to say that playing Giggerota the Wicked in the wild and unique series Lexx was one of my favorite television projects ever. Giggerota was a balls to the wall, aggressive, fabulously fun evil cannibal. And Paul Donovan who created the show was very clever – the character was so popular that he kept reincarnating her in different bodies for the four seasons I was in. That was so rewarding for me as an actor. I also traveled to Berlin, Halifax, and Thailand with the show. What a great combo platter- to be on location and shoot a wacky show with an amazing cast and crew. So grateful because this was the first show to put me on the map in the sci-fi genre on camera. We just did a cast reunion of Lexx at a New York sci-fi/fantasy convention last year. I am forever grateful to be a part of a show that was the forerunner of so many sci-fi shows.
Voice over-wise, I have to say that I loved being the welcoming voice of the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland and all the World of Colors at Disney California Adventure. It brings out the child in all of us when you hear your voice playing over a huge sound system accompanied by a gorgeous children’s choir and an incredible orchestra. It is one of the most spine-tingling experiences. To hear the crowd emotionally respond to it, is just so satisfying. Made me cry when I booked those narrations.
Stage wise- doing a farce comedy Boeing-Boeing opposite Peter Scolari from Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks was the other star of that show). I love live theater because you know immediately by the audience’s reactions how they feel. There is nothing better than hearing them laugh non-stop. Just makes me smile thinking about it.
When you do a small low budget independent movie like Napolean Dynamite and it becomes the cult comedy of a generation, that is mind-blowing to me. Audiences loved this movie so much, that they quote every line from it. I still get fan letters about this movie almost every day. I love how the film was made on a shoe-string budget and became a huge worldwide hit. Sweet!!!
What was your first voice acting role and why did you want to pursue voice acting in addition to live-action roles?
Before I even considered a voice-over career, I got cast in the original English dub of Sailor Moon. What a start! Most people don’t know that.
My first acting role in the voiceover realm was a commercial for the US Armed Forces. It was a very powerful dramatic piece about sexual harassment in the military.
My first video game was Guild Wars 2 – I auditioned for 13 characters on the floor of a hotel under a tented blanket and booked three main roles. I loved doing that game. And you never forget your first. It started my love affair with doing video games and playing roles that really worked my lower register.
I love the freedom of doing voice over roles. Creating a whole world with just the use of your voice- no props, no set, no makeup or hair, no costumes, no other actor. I love the challenge and love the fact that I am not judged by my appearance. I can play a lizard, a queen, a fish, an Argonian, an Orc, a scientist, a demon, etc. I can be a human, a mystic, a spirit, a robot and can be any age- three to three thousand! Plus I can go to work in sweats and a ball cap!
I also love flying by the seat of my pants. A lot of times, the material doesn’t come in till the last minute so you are literally performing the script cold and bringing it to life very quickly. I love that kind of spontaneity!
The first Star Wars project you worked on (correct me if I’m wrong) was the video game Star Wars: Uprising. What do you remember about that project and the characters you voiced?
You are right. That was the first one!!
I had auditioned for Star Wars: Uprising as you do with other voice over roles. It was a self – tape and when I booked the part, I was so excited to have the word STAR WARS on my resume. I was a member of the club now!
I remember it was set after the Return of the Jedi and was an action role playing game by Kabam and Disney Interactive Studios. One of my main roles was a Pirate Queen named Captain Tystel which I was thrilled to play. Very aggressive, strong and raspy-voiced! I had a lot of fun working on this project. I wasn’t in Los Angeles when I booked the game. I was working on a movie in Toronto and I remember they were so gracious and I recorded it at a studio there under the wonderful direction of Darragh O’ Farrell. That’s the beauty of voice overs, you can be anywhere to record the finished product.
Before you voiced Phasma in Star Wars Resistance you voiced her in LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises and LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars. Did you audition specifically for Phasma for the LEGO projects? Do you have a favorite LEGO or Resistance Phasma moment?
I did not specifically audition for the part of Captain Phasma. I had taken a voice masterclass in Los Angeles with the wonderful casting director Lindsay Halper Pearlman from LucasArts and I loved it. Flash forward, and my voice agent Vox Inc. in Los Angeles called me and said I booked a secret part in a major animation show. And I was to sound like Gwendoline Christie in Star Wars. Lindsay had remembered my voice from that class.
I had also auditioned over the years for other LucasArts/Disney projects. I panicked! I don’t do sound a-likes! Or so I thought! And the only reference they gave me was an interview with Gwendolyn Christie on a talk show. There was no references to the feature film available. I was absolutely terrified because I wanted to get it so perfect because I’m a huge fan of hers. I also read up on everything I could about the mythology of the character. Plus the fans are the most avid fans in the world and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I am so grateful that Lindsay heard something in that class and remembered me for this iconic role. You never know who is listening!
I love when Captain Phasma barks: “Kylo Ren will arrive soon. He’s not as warm and cuddly as I am!” from LEGO: Resistance Rises. This line in the Lego Project cracks me up so much.
Would you say you did more research on the character of Phasma or the Star Wars universe as a whole?
I did research on both. Whenever I get any part, I try and soak up as much as I can from that universe as well as the character in general. At the time, there were no clips available for the feature film because it wasn’t out yet. I also didn’t get the script till I got into the booth so I couldn’t do specific research on the script. I was very lucky to have a great team of directors to guide me through the roles, if I had any questions about the universe.
So a combination of research, my imagination, and great direction from Michael Donovan the director in the LEGO: Star Wars projects and later on with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in Star Wars Resistance. Just awesome people to work with.
Would you say your voice as Phasma is similar in Resistance and the LEGO projects?
In the Lego projects, her voice was not quite as haughty. In Resistance, there is more of a clipped prim and proper presentation in my performance. The British accent is also more pronounced. That was the biggest difference in that version. Subtle differences. Both powerful, commanding, and educated and a no BS character which I love. So you bring your own spin on those qualities for sure within the context of the genre.
The fact that Gwendoline Christie voiced season one in Resistance, I had to be more accurate in my portrayal of Captain Phasma for Season 2. A challenge for me. When I did Lego: Star Wars, the engineer had worked on the feature film and said, I was spot on in my voice quality of Gwendoline’s. That made my day! I was a huge fan of hers from Game of Thrones, so to get a chance to play this character was a dream come true.
I have to ask – do you think Phasma died in The Last Jedi or do you think we’ll see her in a future Star Wars story?
Oh, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of Phasma! Lol. I think we will see her again! And selfishly I really hope so!
Have you watched the sequel trilogy films and The Mandalorian? Any favorite moments or characters from those projects?
I have watched The Mandalorian! I think it’s a wonderful series! I still have to catch up on the trilogy. I have the third installment to see yet. It’s next on my list! My heart belongs to baby Yoda! I know I know! I can’t get enough of this character!
Can you share any projects you have coming up?
Thanks for asking.
I have a new sci-fi pilot coming out – The Time is Right by Garner Haines. It is a fascinating look at time travel in a game show setting. Not sure where and when it will be on, but I will keep everyone posted. I play the showrunner of the game and I want to go back in time myself to stop an incident that occurred in my life.
I shot a fascinating short that hopes to be sold as a series called Boundless about female pilots during WW II created by Kate Campbell. I was thrilled, as a daughter of a veteran, to be a part of this very important project that few people know about in history.
I have a podcast coming out called SOLVE – a voice-over of a quirky woman who runs a major hotel in Hollywood that had all kinds of famous stars staying there. The episode is called “Old Hollywood Hotel.” It is a murder mystery old fashioned radio drama. Audiences get to solve the crime. Airing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I Heart App etc.
And the first feature film I shot years ago with Terry Kiser, Denise Richards and the late Paul Walker – a nutty sci fi comedy- Tammy and The T-Rex is coming out on Blu Ray and on various streaming platforms and in stores. It is having a huge resurgence! Very few people have seen the best worst movie of all times!
Please check ellendubin.com for future projects and conventions.
Any questions fans can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can hear Dubin as Phasma in the Star Wars Resistance Season 2 trailer below.