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Star Wars: The Bad Batch's icy cloner is starting to show a little more humanity

Actor Gwendoline Yeo's performance as Kaminoan Nala Se was influenced by her geneticist brother.

Tarkin, Omega, Nala Se and Lama Su in Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Nala Se seems to be protecting Omega from the ruthless Tarkin and Lama Su in Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

Lucasfilm

Ever since Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered the Kaminoans in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, the genetic engineers responsible for the Republic's clone army have seemed utterly clinical and united in their sterile facility. But Disney Plus CGI animated series The Bad Batch has revealed how that might be changing under a new galactic order.

In the immediate aftermath of the Clone Wars and the events of Revenge of the Sith, the Galactic Empire replaced the Republic and seems intent on casting the clone troopers aside in favor of conscripted soldiers. This leaves the Kaminoans in a bind: They no longer have access to the unaltered genetic material of the late bounty hunter Jango Fett to produce optimal clones, so their product is of little use to the Empire.

There are two unaltered Jango clones in the galaxy, Boba Fett and Omega. The former is off in an unknown location learning to be an awesome bounty hunter and future Disney Plus star, but the latter is hanging out with the renegade Clone Force 99 (the Bad Batch). So Kaminoan Prime Minister Lama Su is intent on tracking down Omega, extracting her pure genetic material and disposing of her.

In a surprising turn, Kaminoan chief medical scientist Nala Se appears to be working against her boss, having hired the mercenary Fennec Shand to stop Omega from being captured. It seems like Nala Se's deceptions will be a major issue in the last three episodes of the season, with episode 14, War-Mantle, hitting Disney Plus on Friday.

Gwendoline Yeo

Gwendoline Yeo has played Nala Se for more than a decade.

David Livingston/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I had a quick Zoom chat with actor Gwendoline Yeo, who's played Nala Se since the character first appeared in The Clone Wars back in 2008. We talked about how the role transitioned to The Bad Batch, capturing the Kaminoans' questionable sense of morality taking inspiration from one of her siblings.

Her other Clone Wars voice roles include the droid Hologram VJ, the Gungan Peppi Bow, bounty hunter Cato Parasitti and Jedi youngling Kalifa.

You might also know her as the voice of Paine in Final Fantasy 10-2, Yuma in Far Cry 4 and Lady Hana in Ghost of Tsushima. Her live-action work includes roles in Desperate Housewives, NCIS and The CW's Kung-Fu reboot.

Here's a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity. 

Q. Can you tell me about the journey you've taken with Nala Se?
Yeo: I first booked this job more than a decade ago -- it was just a simple audition, with one page, five lines. And I saw a picture of Nala Se; a tall thing with little lips. So I did a take as an American with very small lips and then I got a call. [Clone Wars mastermind Dave Filoni] and I built a really amazing relationship, along with the rest of the cast. 

So I played Nala Se through Clone Wars, and that set the stage for The Bad Batch towards the end. She's just such an interesting character; she seems so neutral, but still powerful. And I think the audience can project whatever they want onto her.

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It's tough to know where Nala Se lies on the morality scale, since she seems so clinical. What can you tell me about that?
She can seem quite neutral. I don't think she can be described as a villain or not. She's really committed to her job and she's very proud of what she's created. I think she's most proud of Omega. She's almost like a child or mentee to her.

Ever since we heard that Boba Fett is referred to as Alpha, I've had the Alpha and the Omega in my head. Since they're brother and sister, that's kind of fascinating. Can you say anything about that?
I'll just say that there's a reason for everything, but you just have to wait for things to unfold. 

She's behaving quite differently to how she was in the Clone Wars, when she pretty much dismissed the clones as property. That appearance of neutrality is still there in The Bad Batch, but I get the sense there's a lot going on under the surface.
I think we finally see a touch of vulnerability. We even tried different takes in different ways, just minute shifts of her tone of voice. She's a medical scientist, so she plays things close to her vest. My brother was actually a molecular geneticist in Cambridge and discovered the mutated obesity chain in a fugu fish, so I sort of know how they are.

There's suddenly this thing you've birthed, and I think that no matter how neutral you are, there's definitely an excitement about it. So stay tuned for how that unfolds with Omega.