The Bad Batch Interview: Nala Se’s Gwendoline Yeo

The Bad Batch Interview: Nala Se’s Gwendoline Yeo

Screen Rant spoke with Gwendoline Yeo, who voices the Kaminoan Nala Se, leading into the final episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 1.

Leading into the final episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 1, Screen Rant had the chance to speak into Gwendoline Yeo about her role as Nala Se, which she originated in the previous animated series Clone Wars. As a sequel series to Clone Wars, The Bad Batch continues the story about the clone troopers and dives into the Kaminoans’ role in the burgeoning Galactic Empire. Nala Se and Lamu Su work with the Empire in shepherding their new military, but while that happens, there’s also their mission to retrieve Omega and hunt down Clone Force 99. Here’s what Yeo had to say about that and about what Nala Se’s connection is with Omega.

You originally voiced Nala Se in Clone Wars and you’re back here, so what’s it like not only returning in a new series but one that portrays the clones, Kaminoans, and Nala Se kind of in a more sinister way?

Yeah, I’ve been playing Nala Se since the late 1800s – joking! – but it’s been such a privilege to have done this for over a decade. I definitely feel like part of the family. I don’t know if I’d use the word sinister; I do think that she’s cold and sort of hard to read. And it’s interesting that you do use that word; maybe some of the audience perceive her that way, which I can’t argue with. That’s what’s beautiful about the Star Wars universe – people are going to pick up what they’re going to pick up on. I think right now with The Bad Batch, if anything, I don’t know if she’s a good girl or a bad girl. I think she’s finally standing up for something that she created, that she’s very protective of. I don’t like to approach characters in a way where I’m sort of judging them, if they’re villains or they’re heroes. We’re all in real-life kind of complicated and two things can coexist at the same time. Let’s see where the story takes us, but in terms of her being more maternal and being more sort of standing up for Omega and having an attachment, I think is very interesting. Whether it leads to something that’s more sinister or whether it leads to something the other way, that’s up for the audience to deduce. Do you find her sinister?

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Well, not specifically. In Clone Wars, the clones and Kaminoans were heroes throughout the entire series, and now they’re hunting the Bad Batch. So while Nala Se is trying to protect Omega, she’s kind of part of that world where she’s trying to play both sides – one with the Empire and one with keeping Omega safe. So she is in the middle; maybe not her, particularly, being sinister, but Lama Su and the Empire obviously are.

I see. It’s the duality that she’s found – yeah, I understand why you would say that. I think stakes are really high, you know? To go against Lama Su is a big deal, your life is at stake. For the Kaminoans… she’s doing her job, right, to protect the clones that she’s created. And I know there are definitely themes of good and evil, obviously in the Star Wars universe in general. Some people aren’t aware of who they are, they just are. So I think as a Kaminoan, that’s how they’re made, that’s their DNA, that’s who she is. I don’t think she’s purposefully trying to be good or bad, I think she’s trying to push forward what she thinks and believes is best, which is really strong for a female character. I think she wants to protect Omega. In terms of how everything else is perceived, going after the Bad Batch aka Dee Bakers, I would say there has to be tension. But I like to look at characters not from good or bad, I really feel she’s doing what she believes is best. And she’s a different species, so I think she’s wired differently. Does that make sense?

Yeah, that does. It’s actually a really great answer, I appreciate that. And on that, since you voiced her in Clone Wars, is this where you expected her story to go – not specifically, but in the grand scheme of things?

No, not at all. I had no idea. Dave Filoni and I really hit it off and he wrote some different characters for me, and we just played around so I had no idea. For me, I knew Nala Se had created this army, but definitely, it was a beautiful surprise when they came back and said this is the direction we want to take her. It was a surprise to me, and that’s the beautiful thing about the Lucas universe; they have so many things going on – live-action and all these different avenues – you just never know. So it was a beautiful surprise… and it wasn’t easy to play. I had to think about how I was going to play her without overplaying her, and underplaying her, and what is it they want. So it was a real collaborative effort with Jennifer Corbett, Dave Filoni, and Brad Rau, and the other writers in terms of what would fit best. Let’s see where the story takes us, but I think even though she might come across as neutral because the writing is so nuanced, I treat it like a movie – it’s almost like an extreme close-up. Just literally, in degrees left or right, can really make a difference. So there was definitely trust in them and I treated it very much like I would do an on-camera film because the writing is just that good.

Earlier you mentioned Omega – do you think the reason Nala Se has such an attachment to her is because she kind of raised her, whereas the clones were kind of just mass-produced and shipped out?

What I will say is there is something special about Omega and there’s a special connection, and I think she just feels very protective over her. Why, specifically, Omega and what it is, specifically, that makes that connection special is something we’ll kind of have to see. You’ll have to ask the higher-ups in terms of the alpha and the omega and everything else in terms of why. But there’s just a special connection; that’s all I can say!

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