Why Rosario Dawson’s portrayal of Ahsoka deserves appreciation

Ahsoka season 1. Image courtesy StarWars.com
Ahsoka season 1. Image courtesy StarWars.com /

Rosario Dawson understood the assignment when it came to portraying a 40-something-year-old Ahsoka Tano in Ahsoka. She’s not the spunky Ahsoka from The Clone Wars but someone who rarely smiles and who’s emotionally distant to the point of being aloof. But that’s the whole point, and that’s what Rosario was supposed to convey through her acting.

In live-action, we saw an Ahsoka whose personality is the result of scars she’s endured over the years. After being framed for bombing the Jedi Temple on Coruscant by her friend, Barriss Offee, Ahsoka’s personality begins to go through a gradual change. Since that day, Ahsoka suffered several blows and watched as the Republic she and the Jedi fought for fell. The people she called her friends either died or suffered a fate worse than death. She learned that her Master had become a Sith Lord, and his inquisitors spent years hunting down any surviving Jedi, including Ahsoka. Ahsoka had years of trauma dating back to her time as a child soldier during The Clone Wars, which is why Rosario Dawson portrayed her perfectly in Ahsoka.

Rosario’s Ahsoka is forced to move forward in life by taking on a Padawan, something every Jedi does after they’ve attained a certain amount of knowledge of the force. It’s not something she’s comfortable doing, as she doubts her knowledge and the man who taught her. She resists emotional attachment and fears for Sabine’s future, knowing well that Sabine is driven by her attachment to Ezra Bridger. Even though she’s moving forward on the surface, emotionally and mentally, she’s stuck in the past at the precise moment she decided to leave the Jedi Order.

Ahsoka has years of guilt for abandoning her Master, Anakin Skywalker, who fell to the dark side shortly after she left. With time, as she realizes that Anakin’s powerful emotions led to his fall, Ahsoka begins to withdraw emotionally from those around her. The difference is clear between Ahsoka of The Clone Wars and Ahsoka of Star Wars Rebels. It’s even clearer as more time passes, and we see her in live-action in The Mandalorian. She never moved on from what happened to her and Anakin, and she’s held onto it for so long that she’s become a distant person.

By the end of the series, she’s come to terms with her past and taken steps toward healing. After surviving a near-death experience, she changes into white Jedi robes, and suddenly, it seems like Rosario is playing a different Ahsoka Tano. Her demeanor changes, confirming that Rosario played Ahsoka as serious and emotionally distant on purpose. That’s what Dave Filoni decided Ahsoka is supposed to be like at this point in her life when she’s much older and wiser.

Rosario perfectly portrays the older Ahsoka, who has suffered immense loss. There’s no question that she’s different from the young Ahsoka voiced by Ashley Eckstein. It’s a conscious choice, but after season 1 of Ahsoka, expect Rosario to play the character very differently. She’s coming to terms with her demons and starting to show more emotion. As Ahsoka opens up to people and begins to live her life with a greater sense of purpose and optimism, Rosario Dawson is the perfect person to play her as she transitions from “Ahsoka the Grey” to “Ahsoka the White.”

Ahsoka is streaming on Disney+.