There’s been a lot of debate about what makes the First Order Stormtroopers different from their predecessors, the Imperial ones. I mean, there are the surface things, like the altered outfits, new weapons and restructured hierarchy. However, according to one of the Stormtrooper voice actors, one of the biggest differences can be summed up in one word: “Traitor!”
Sam Witwer is one of the best-known voice actors in Star Wars — he voiced Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine in Clones Wars and Rebels — and he showed up as a hidden bonus in The Force Awakens, voicing a number of First Order Stormtroopers and officers. (Stormtoopers being the choice for most hidden cameos in that movie.) With all that experience, if anyone would know the difference between an Imperial Stormtroopers and First Order Ones, it’s him. In an interview with ComicBook.com, he said it all comes down to emotions — meaning First Order Stormtroopers actually have them:
First Order Stormtroopers are different than Episode IV, V, and VI troopers. They are very different. They’re younger, they’re a little bit more emotionally available … they actually scream at each other and stuff like that, whereas [Imperial] Stormtroopers never get really beyond a five or a six in terms of excitement. They could be in the middle of a giant firefight, and they’re like, “Hold it right there, freeze,” you know, in the middle of like a BIG firefight. The Rebels could be all screaming, the Stormtrooper’s like, “Blast ’em!” They just don’t get that excited, except when they get killed, then they freak out, they go, “AHHHHHH!!” They lose it when they get killed, have amazing death screams. But Episode VII Troopers yell at each other more. They’re a little bit more younger, more excitable.
While Witwer said he can’t “confirm nor deny whether I’ve done any voice work for The Last Jedi“, he did offer up those observations immediately after saying that, so I’d bet on him returning. Of course, how can he top such iconic Force Awakens lines as “Blast that X-wing!”, “Unauthorised TIE launch!”, and the always-classic “We think they may be splitting up” (in reference to the rebels, you know, splitting up). He also took on the role of some old-school troopers in the fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels. You know, as a favour to the show, given his official “cred”:
I always make this joke with [Star Wars Rebels executive producer] Dave Filoni, I’m like, ‘You know, your Stormtroopers, they sound ok. They sound all right. They sound really good, actually. But you want the official Stormtroopers from the movies? I do that. I’m the one who does it for the movies, and so if you want really good, accurate Stormtrooper, you’re just gonna hafta spend the money.'”
Star Wars Rebels returns in the US October 16, and The Last Jedi comes out (hopefully with Witmer on board) December 14.