Meredith Salenger Is Ready to Break Down Barriss Offee

Meredith Salenger Is Ready to Break Down Barriss Offee

Barriss Offee is a rare character for Star Wars. Not just because she was a Jedi so horrified by the part the Order had to play in the Clone War that she took extreme action to try and stop it, but simply because the next step of her story was left untold for over a decade. Now, at long last, it’s time to tell it, and the woman behind her is just as excited as you are to see what’s next.

Meredith Salenger, who voiced Barriss throughout her appearances in The Clone Wars—where we saw her go from the reserved, but forceful padawan of Luminara Unduli, to one of Ahsoka Tano’s closest friends, to the architect of a shocking attack on the Jedi Temple—has waited as long as fans have for what is about to pass. It’s been 11 years since Barriss’ last appearance in the fifth season of Clone Wars, where, after the Order had ostracized Ahsoka for a purported role in staging an anti-war bombing on the Jedi Temple, Barriss revealed herself as the bomber, fierily condemning the dark path the Jedi and Republic alike were taking as the war drove on.

“I have been in love with the character of Barriss for… I mean, it was years ago. It feels like forever ago. I’m thrilled, of course,” Salenger recently told io9 over Zoom about waiting for her return to Star Wars. “Every time I saw something great happen with Ahsoka, I was like, ‘Barriss is her best friend, is she coming back?’ I know she betrays Ahsoka, but… they were best friends! One day Dave [Filoni, Clone Wars producer and Lucasfilm’s Chief Creative Officer] called me and told me [she was coming back], and I was very excited. I think fans are excited, too, because everyone’s always like, ‘What happened to Barriss?’ So, we’ll see…” Salenger’s love for the character, as well as fandom’s embrace of Barriss, has persisted ever since the series came to an end.

“I loved the show. I loved The Clone Wars, I loved Rebels, I loved literally everything Dave Filoni has created,” Salenger added. “I’ve been a fan of, obsessed with [Barriss]… so, just like the fans, I too am wondering what happened to her. I have been to a few of the Cons and things, and the fans are asking what happens to her and actually, Ashley [Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka in Clone Wars and Rebels] and I are still friends. We need to get the band back together! So for me, it’s been really exciting.”

While it’s been years for us and Salenger alike, Tales of the EmpireLucasfilm’s next animated anthology series premiering on Disney+ this weekend for the studio’s annual Star Wars Day celebrations—will pick up almost exactly where we left Barriss, imprisoned by the Republic and confronted with a terrible choice in the name of survival, as it transforms into the Galactic Empire. But even before that dilemma, Salenger has had plenty of time to sit with the choices Barriss made in at the climax of Clone Wars’ original run.

Image: Lucasfilm

“In a way, we’re sort of similar in how we want to follow the rules—we have a really strong moral compass. What she does at the end [of Clone Wars season 5], the bombing of the Jedi temple—I mean, personally, I don’t think I would have gone that far. Her desperate need, her morality, is just so strong,” Salenger said of Barriss’ headspace, coming out of her trial and into the early days of her punishment. “She’s almost like a Jedi extremist. She’s been trained in peacekeeping, and all the things the Jedi stand for, and I think she’s really misguided. She got kind of confused by things at the end—she wanted her position so strongly to be known, that she went about it the wrong way. She knows she did. But it was almost like, ‘I need this outcome to happen, by whatever means necessary, to the crux of what a Jedi is.’ I think that just drove her mad a little.”

It’s in this volatile headspace that we meet Barriss in Tales of the Empire, when she is offered a chance to join the new order in the form of the Imperial Inquisitorius. “My thoughts truly align with Barriss in that moment of like, ‘What has happened here?’ This is not how it should be,” Salenger teased of Barriss’ early reactions in Tales to the fall of the Republic. “She’s in jail, she’s been jailed by the Jedi Council. Who knows how long she’s been there? But for her to see what is happening through Order 66, I think there’s a relief she is not out there, that she’s alive. But also she thinks, ‘this is wrong.’ I think it’s the violence that is so strayed from who the Jedi are—the violence that says, ‘it can’t be like this.’ She used violence to combat the violence, and now she’s seeing more of it, and she’s incredibly conflicted.”

“Personally—and this is a separate thing from [Tales]—I think there’s guilt. And when the Fourth Sister comes to offer her a way out of imprisonment, it’s like a curiosity of what’s going to happen, and how does Barriss feel about this,” Salenger concluded. “But also, this is the only way to survive. And it’s incredibly conflicting [for her].”

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire begins streaming on Disney+ May 4.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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