Editor’s note: We’re sending you a Nerd Alert! The person you will read about here is a major nerd, but maybe not for the reasons you might initially assume. This is the real deal, the inner sanctum of nerdity, and the point of no return: After someone outs themselves as a nerd on CNN, there’s no going back!
Dave Filoni is a nerd. Sure, he’s the guy in charge “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” which airs on CNN’s sister network, Cartoon Network. He talks to George Lucas on an almost daily basis. He was part of the team that brought Nickelodeon’s widely popular “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to the small screen.
From that kind of nerd pedigree, one might assume Filoni is a "Star Wars" nerd, and yes, one would be right. But the nerd goes much deeper than that. We peeled away the layers of Filoni’s obsessions to find out what really gets him eye-bulging, fast-talking and vibrating-with-excitement. Here’s what does it:
I’m a huge Doctor Doom fan. LOVE Doctor Doom. I have arguments at work. I explain that he’s actually the greatest superhero, that he’s mislabeled as a villain. But he’s not really a bad guy! He means well by his country and he’s loved by his people. Reed Richards is always pretty self-interested. He’s all, “I’m saving the day!” So I’m a big supporter of Doom. I carry his banner. On my desk up at LucasFilm, - you walk in my office and what greets you on the corner of my desk is a huge statue of Doom, sitting on his throne. I’ve always found him to be an interesting character. The concept that he is kind of a tortured soul, that his mother’s soul is being held by Mephisto - that’s a great story. Mike Mignola did a great comic book about one shot with Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom. I highly recommend it. It’s beautifully illustrated, That’s a big one for me, Doom. I’m a big fan.
I’ve always been into Godzilla, ever since I was a kid. Especially the 1974 movie “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla,” specifically. That’s a really big geek out moment for you. Probably around 2004 Godzilla got a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. [The actual date was November 29, 2004] And my friends in animation, we would always build massive costumes and stuff for the big Halloween parties in LA cause it’s a huge holiday. So I built a replica Mechagodzilla costume, one-to-one scale with the Toho thing. And when I showed up to Toho Studios [for the party celebrating Godzilla’s Hollywood star] I don’t think they knew if I was with the studio or not – Godzilla was there too. I wanted to fight (Godzilla) but they wouldn’t let me. I’ve always been into that. I love it when people dress up in costumes.
"Star Wars" Extended Universe:
I was at San Diego Comic-Con one year dressed as Plo Koon, that was the year I got this job to do “Clone Wars,” and I had already made the costume when “Revenge of the Sith” was out. So I already had the job, but I was like, “I’m still going to wear this thing because I made it, it took a long time!” So I’m walking around here and people would come up to me and say, “Hey, did you hear they’re going to make a “Clone Wars” show, too?” I’m like, “Yeah, I hope it will be good, you never know.” And later on, some friends of mine in the 501st Storm Trooper group, one of them emailed me a picture and he says, “Is this you?!?” and it’s a picture of me and him and I’m Plo Koon. I was like, “Yeah, that’s me!”
I’ve been into “Doctor Who” a lot lately. I started with (Christopher) Eccleston, he was fantastic. I was never really into it prior to that, I knew Tom Baker, who he was, but my wife said, “You’ve got to watch this!” I started watching it and it was so fun. Eccleston’s performance was so good, with Billie Piper, too, that I really got into the characters. And I really appreciated, too, what they were trying to produce on the schedule they must have and the types of challenges in doing that level of science fiction. And they’ve just gotten bigger with that show. And then David Tennant came on and he’s fantastic. And now Matt Smith. I’ve watched all those generations of it now, so I’m a pretty huge “Doctor Who” fan. I saw they have a full scale TARDIS (on the Comic-Con floor.)
Which brings us to the nerd kicker:
Since Filoni was at Comic-Con to promote his corner of the Lucas universe, we wondered, as a fan himself and a Lucas employee, how does he deal with angry "Star Wars" nerds?
I’ll be a Jedi and I’ll tell you that it comes from a good place. It’s because they like the stories so much. It’s because they love the characters so much, that people interpret their feelings as angry.
Now, to me, they’re not necessarily following the story because the story teaches you not to do that. The story of “Star Wars” is that Luke lets go of his anger. I would point out that Luke becomes a Jedi when he lets go of his anger and his hate – when he lets go of his weapon. When he’s weaponless, he’s defenseless, that’s what makes him a Jedi.
You never want a fan to be upset; you want them to be enjoying it. I think some of them enjoy being angry, but a lot of times the only take-away I have is that’s not really what most of the stories told are about. Usually that is on the dark side, and there’s this thing where its’ like, “Well, that’s cool! It’s cool to be on the dark side.”
Well, it’s not, really. It’s really bad. “Harry Potter” taught that really well, I think. When you see how evil Voldemort really is. When you see Lucius Malfoy and you see that he really learned through torture to his family what evil really meant. And so did Draco. It’s terrifying. So, evil is bad. Tolkein was pretty specific about that, too.
But I could never fault fans. I’ve had fans come up to me and say, “I really hated your movie.” And I go, “Well, OK,” and they go, “But I really like your TV show.” And I’m like, “That’s fair.” But what am I going to do? I’m not going to argue with them about why you should or shouldn’t like something. Because it’s the passion that they have to say “I don’t like it,” it’s their want for it to be better that I totally respect.
I would say George (Lucas) feels very much the same. I think he appreciates the fans very much, and you can’t make everyone happy. There’s never been a truer statement. No matter what I do with a certain character, a lot of people will like it and certain people won’t. You just have to hope that you make the most people happy. Ultimately, too, I think a lot of the passion comes from they would very much like to tell their story, so it’s kind of a guessing game. I’ve never had a problem with it.
And to be honest, people are a lot anger online. When you meet them in person, they are never as cruel. Suddenly it’s like, they’re disarmed and they’re very pleasant to talk to and they just want to be heard. They want to know that you listened to them. So I hear anybody out about anything and everything. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’ve been there as a fan of many different things. When you’ve been disappointed and you’re like, “Ah, man.” My wife is a huge, huge, huge "Lord of the Rings" fan, and she has issues with certain things in the movies. So I have one of those in my house.