Fri 12/20 @ 7:30PM
Jason Swank may not have made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but the Star Wars fan sure knows a lot about the Jedi order, droids and Kenner memorabilia.
As co-host of the Star Wars-themed Rebel Force Radio podcast with Jimmy Mac, Swank — like millions of other fans — is bracing for the December 20 release of The Rise of Skywalker, which is the finale to the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
“I’m a little mystified, frankly, at why this is the end of the saga,” said North Canton native Swank, who during the day is Playhouse Square’s marketing director. “I’m trying to separate the reality from the PR and the marketing. I feel as though no one is asking for it to end.
“Secondly, I struggle with J.J. Abrams having a big hill to climb for me in terms of this film wrapping up all nine (films) because I’m not sure this cast — and not to take anything away from them — have earned the place to wrap it all up.”
For nearly 15 years, Swank has been eagerly and happily getting into the weeds of all things Star Wars. His first podcast, called The ForceCast, appeared in 2006 on TheForce.net. Then Swank and Mac created Rebel Force Radio in 2012.
To celebrate the end of the 40-plus year saga, Rebel Force Radio will be recording a live episode titled “Skywalker Rises in Ohio” Fri 12/20 @ 7:30PM in Playhouse Square’s Kennedy Theatre.
The “May the force be with you” evening will include insights and analysis of Episode 9 – The Rise of Skywalker.
In case you’re wondering, Swank is a bonafide Star Wars fan, complete with an obligatory basement featuring his toy and memorabilia collections.
Not only can Swank talk a good game (including discussing the game of Dejarik, which is most famously played on the Millennium Falcon), but over the course of the last decade and a half he’s interviewed the likes of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
“The first time I ever met Mark was a struggle because you wanted to look like you’ve been there before, but you’re still geeking out meeting your childhood hero,” Swank said. “I believe the first question I asked was, ‘Who is your Luke Skywalker?’ in order for him to understand how I feel.
“He talked about what a big Beatles fan he was. I think he said he met everyone except John Lennon. Mark was really nice and wanted to talk.”
As far as delving deeper into the release of Episode 9 – The Rise of Skywalker, Swank admits as a lifelong fan of the series he’s struggling with its bittersweet end. However, something that’s helping ease his mind is just like Obi-Wan Kenobi (you know, old Ben Kenobi), he’s hoping his love of the “Star Wars” universe becomes more powerful than he can possibly imagine with the end of the saga as he knows it.
“I would be a little bit more bitter rather than sweet if it wasn’t for what we have on the horizon with Disney+,” Swank said. “Especially knowing what quality is like, given what we’ve seen with The Mandalorian, as well as (the upcoming) Obi-Wan Kenobi series. That’s got me more excited than probably Episode 9.
“As an old guy, I’m just more invested in a character like Obi-Wan Kenobi than I am with Finn, Rey and Poe. They’re great characters, but I’ve only known them for four years. I’ve known Obi-Wan Kenobi my whole life.”
Tickets to the live podcast are $30.