Matt Lanter on Fatherhood, ‘Jupiter’s Legacy,’ and Being Anakin Skywalker

Turns out, Lanter's daughter thinks "daddy" is a living Star Wars Pez dispenser.

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Take your favorite family dramas and your favorite superhero sagas, toss them in the blender, and hit purée. Voila, you’ve got Jupiter’s Legacy. The new superhero show, set to drop May 7 on Netflix, is based on the comic books of the same name by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. It stars Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb as Sheldon and Grace Sampson, a/k/a The Utopian and Lady Liberty, the superhero parents to Chloe (Elena Kampouris) and Brandon (Andrew Horton). Chloe hates all the superhero nonsense, while Brandon can never seem to live up to his dad’s expectations. Then there’s Sheldon’s brother, Walter/Brainwave (Ben Daniels). Also, key to the story is George (Matt Lanter), Sheldon’s best friend… and soon-to-be nemesis.

Matt Lanter arrives at Jupiter’s Legacy as something of a sci-fi and fantasy veteran. The model-turned-actor has appeared in a ton of films, but he’s probably best known for voicing Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Fatherly recently caught up with Lanter, who filled us in on Jupiter’s Legacy, looked back at his time in a galaxy far, far away, and revealed why he, his wife, and their daughter are grateful to be living in Nashville during the pandemic.

George is an important character in Jupiter’s Legacy. In your view, what makes George tick? George is a playboy. He’s rich. He enjoys life. He likes to have his fun. He seems to not have a care in the world. I love his witty banter and zingy one-liners. That’s a little bit of a cover-up for some of the holes in his heart. He’s got a lot of loss in his life with his parents. He cared deeply for his mother, who passed away. He just doesn’t have much connection. I think that’s why the connection with the Sampson family is so strong. I think that’s what makes him such a loyal friend to Sheldon and such an ally. I really wanted to make sure that, at least from my perspective, that was there as I was playing George because eventually, he takes a big turn. There’s a fall from grace. I think that’ll make that fall much more like Clone Wars. It’ll make it that much stronger and harder and sad when he falls.How big did you play him, and did anyone say, “Too big. Rein it in”? Or did they let you go all-out?When I read the sides, I wasn’t familiar with the story, and I saw George as a mix between Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man, Tony Stark, and a bit of Jack Sparrow. I also took some inspiration from one of my favorites, Paul Newman, because I feel like he always looks like he has a secret. He’s always got a smirk on his face. Everything rolls off, and I liked that about him.

So, I wanted to take a piece of that as well and sort of created this character, George. The first time we saw George in a party atmosphere was for a scene that I believe was cut. Hopefully, it’ll be on some behind-the-scenes stuff. It was a party ballroom scene with Sheldon and Walt, and it showed the gang in 1929 before the shit hit the fan. Through that scene, I was trying to find his level of bigness and being true to the larger-than-life character.

So much of Jupiter’s Legacy is about family, but George is Sheldon’s best friend. Friends are the family we choose. When the rift occurs, that often makes it worse. I think so. That’s a really good point. When we see the characters in 2021, we’re talking 50, 60 years, roughly, after George has defected. He’s off on his own. Sheldon is still torn up about it. You can tell. It bugs him, and it really weighs on him. This guy was family. I think they both feel that way. To some degree, the relationship between Sheldon and George is what propels Walt to feel that jealousy and hatred all his life. He’s got a weird thing with George. I think he wants to be George. He wants to be like the guy’s guy with his brother. And he’s never quite that. It’s almost like Sheldon and George are a little closer than Walt and Sheldon. That fuels a lot of what’s going on in Walt’s head.How ready are you for a long run if the show catches on?We’re just getting started, and I know the audience will feel the same way. There’s so much potential in this story. Mark Millar has created such a complex and vast world. I’ve got huge hopes and aspirations for Millarworld, not even for necessarily my job. I think we’re the beginning of an entrance to Millarworld, which 20 years from now is going to be one of the three players: DC, Marvel, and Millarworld. I think we’re the first show out of the gate. We can become a through-line for the next several years for other Millarworld projects to be in this universe. I’d love to see other characters with their spinoffs or appear in Millarworld movies. So, I’m in it for the long haul. I love this cast, love this team I got to work with within season one. So, I hope we go.To many fans, you are the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars animated universe. It’s going on 15 or 16 years…It’s been such a blessing. It’s a world I’ve been exposed to, which I had no idea even was there on this scale. Star Wars fans have been so welcoming. I literally feel a bond with Star Wars fandom now because I’m a part of that fandom. I’m driving on the highway, I see Star Wars bumper stickers, and I’m like, “Hey, let’s talk.” That’s how I feel. I’m a part of it and it’ll always be a part of me.

Credit: Lucasfilm

Heads exploded when you appeared on The Mandalorian. How did that come together?Dave (Filoni) let me know they’d love to have me down, which was such an honor. It’s one thing to be voicing Star Wars, but to be in Star Wars is a whole different thing. Even after all these years and all these experiences in the Star Wars universe, to be on a real set and play on a real Star Wars ship… Jon Favreau was there and we were all talking about the scene we were doing. It was just an amazing experience.Your daughter is three. Does she understand yet what daddy does for a living?I don’t think she’s ever seen me on TV. She’s too young to really understand. Of course, I have a lot of Anakin figurines around the house, and little Pez dispensers. She thinks the Pez dispenser is daddy. She says, “Daddy,” which is really funny because we’ve never really drilled that into her head that I’m the voice. I think she sees a similarity in The Clone Wars‘ Anakin physically with her dad, which is really fun for me and super-sweet. But she’s not to the point yet where she understands.How are you and your family surviving the pandemic?I shot Jupiter’s Legacy in 2019 in Toronto. We’d been tossing around the idea of leaving Los Angeles prior to that. I’m at a point where I don’t really need to do the day-to-day grind in L.A. anymore. The business is changing. The casting room is sort of going away. Everything is on tape.

So, we moved to Nashville, bought a house. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. So, I wanted a place that was a little more similar to how I grew up. We have a big yard now. We’re in a neighborhood with a clubhouse and a pool. It’s a great place to raise a family. School systems are awesome. We’ll see what happens in the future, but we’ve been really happy. My wife is an influencer/YouTuber, and aside from me being home all the time, not much changed for us.

We have felt such a blessing by being here in Nashville with room to stretch out. We’ve got a detached garage that we turned into a studio for my wife, and I built myself a sound booth in the house. So, I’ve worked on some Star Wars projects from here. We made that decision to come here, and then (the pandemic) happened. We’ve stayed healthy. That’s the most important thing. And I think having a little room to stretch out has helped. Physically, mentally we’ve stayed healthy. We’ve gotten through it, but, man, a lot of other parts of the country and world have not. So, I just feel blessed to be safe.

Jupiter’s Legacy will drop May 7 on Netflix.

You can hear Lanter as Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars on Disney+.

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