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In 12 episodes, Andor will dive into a darker, grittier and more complicated story than that of the more traditional tales of good versus evil that the sci-fi franchise is known for. And that’s largely due to the show’s titular character, Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna).
“If you’re gonna do something these days in Star Wars, it better be different, right?” Luna told The Hollywood Reporter at the series’ Los Angeles launch event on Thursday. “We just want to be risky, we want to bring something new and different into the Star Wars universe.”
“[Cassian] is not obviously good or obviously bad,” added director Toby Haynes, who helmed the first three episodes. “He’s a good guy who has to do bad things in order to get the job done. And that’s really interesting territory for Star Wars. Usually, it’s very black and white. This is much more grayscale.”
Showrunner Tony Gilroy “has really taken the audience on a different kind of journey than they’re used to,” Haynes continued. “They won’t know where they stand. They won’t know whether they can trust that a character is going to live to the end of an episode.”
Described as a spy thriller, Andor takes place five years before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gareth Edwards’ stand-alone film that tells the untold story of how the Rebel Alliance acquired the Death Star plans prior to the events of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope. In addition to starring, Luna also serves as an executive producer on the series.
“What we know about [Cassian] in Rogue One is very specific, but the dots are very odd,” creator Gilroy said of the titular character. “He’s a killer. He’s a saboteur. He’s a liar, he’s a seducer, he’s a leader. He’s a trusted member of the Rebel Alliance. But at the same time, in the end, he’s a guy with an open heart who is going to give his life to save everyone. It’s a pretty fascinating character.”
“Everybody on each side is completely complicated,” added Kyle Soller, who plays antagonist and imperial officer Syril Karn. “Cassian is a questionable hero, right? And Syril has his own doubts about whether his moral code is extremely right. And is it right to take power and life away from others for the sake of his own beliefs? It’s an honest, difficult human story, and I think people have been waiting for that.”
While previous Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi have had six to eight episodes per season, Andor is serving up 12 episodes in the first season — and, already greenlit for an additional 12, the cast and crew are also gearing up to begin production on season two. In preparing to tell Cassian’s story, Gilroy found that the story required a longer format.
“We’re telling the story of an entire revolution,” the creator said. “Once we started probing around with the characters and what we could do, the abundance of everything that was available was there. I’m not comparing myself in any way, but you know, it’s really like if someone says, ‘Do you want to do War and Peace?,’ you know? It’s like this massive canvas.”
The show also takes fans on a deeper dive into the history of iconic Star Wars character Mon Mothma, a role played by Caroline Blakiston in the original films, and later taken over by Genevieve O’Reilly in the prequels. In Andor, audiences will see Mon Mothma’s role in the creation of the Rebel Alliance, as she infiltrates the empire from within.
“She’s always been an important character or monument within the universe,” said O’Reilly. “So to have the opportunity now to be able to flesh out her character and stand up from her feels real timely. I would also like to acknowledge that George Lucas wrote this character, who’s a female leader of a Rebel Alliance, back in the 1980s. So, to have the opportunity to stand up for her now and to give that character a voice feels important.”
And while the events of Andor will lead up to Rogue One, Luna says that the film is not required viewing in order to watch the show.
“I think the people that love Rogue One are going to enjoy the show, but you don’t need to know Star Wars to enjoy this show,” the star said. “It has a beginning and an end. It has his own genesis, which is cool. So audiences that are not big into Star Wars, they can watch Andor and it could be their way in.”
Andor premieres its first three episodes on Disney+ Sept 21.
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