Clone Wars veteran reveals what Star Trek and Star Wars actually have in common
Dee Bradley Baker talks Star Trek: Prodigy and the social importance of sci-fi.
The purple-and-blue Mellanoid slime worm in Star Trek: Prodigy only speaks through squishy meeps and gurgling boops, but Murf’s sounds are organic. The actor behind the voice, Dee Bradley Baker, makes it clear those sound effects are all coming from him, not a computer. “I believe it's all me,” Baker tells Inverse. “Everything that I've heard is always just all me.”
In Prodigy Episode 14, “Crossroads,” Murf undergoes an organic transformation that will change the nature of the show. Inverse caught up with Baker to unpack this big Murf moment, and how his genre-spanning career unites the science fiction fandom. Spoilers ahead.
Murf’s big change
Since the mid-season debut of Prodigy, the cute slime worm has been in a cocoon undergoing a mysterious metamorphosis. Now, in “Crossroads,” the secret has been revealed. After hatching, Murf has arms and legs. Is speech next?
“If only I could speak!” Dee Bradley Baker says with a laugh. “I can’t say if Murf will start speaking. But logically — and logic is very important in Star Trek — we started with a mostly nonverbal blob that's now evolving into a kind of helpful little bipedal infant. The language capacity is changing a little bit here... and so logically, this points to further evolution. I can put it that way.”
Even if Murf never forms words, Baker points out that his vocal performance still needed to come from a person.
“It’s possible in some instances, to cobble these kinds of sounds together,” Baker says. “A really highly skilled sound designer could do it. But it’s much more efficient and much quicker to hire a voice actor to make this a living, accurate, natural part of the story. Nonverbal creatures like Murf or Appa in Airbender, these are not set pieces. They’re actually sentient, interacting characters. So you need an actor to get to the intent of what this creature is expressing.”
To Boldly Go To a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Bradley Dee Baker’s long list of voice-acting credits includes the beloved series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Steven Universe, and extensive work in the Star Wars galaxy, specifically as the voice of every single Clone Trooper in The Clone Wars and, most recently, in The Bad Batch. Some fans have called Prodigy the Star Trek version of The Bad Batch, a comparison that Baker says isn’t too far off.
“I mean, that’s a good point,” Baker says. “It’s a small team of misfits trying to make their way through a larger political mythology that’s playing out.”
Beyond that superficial similarity, Baker also thinks that both Star Trek and Star Wars are good for the culture at large. “Star Trek is really about democracy trying to work with a scientific assist,” Baker says. “Star Wars is about resisting tyranny with a strong moral component of what’s right and what’s wrong.”
In the first half of Prodigy Season 1, the crew of the Protostar is in a part of the galaxy that feels more like the oppressive realm Star Wars’ heroes face. As the Protostar moves closer to Starfleet, the sensibilities of the two franchises begin to mesh. For Baker, this is as it should be, as aspects of Prodigy represent the common ground between Star Trek and Star Wars storytelling.
“These are the kind of two polarities of human politics, I think,” Baker says. “They’re both very important angles, I think, to be aware of, for young and for old. I think there’s plenty of room for both mythologies.”