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Andor, the upcoming Disney+ series following the exploits of Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), was always going to be a prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, because it had to be. The new show, which will launch its 12-episode first season later this year, has been primed for quite a while to tell the story of how Cassian becomes the determined, ruthless, and somewhat scruffy leader we meet in that film, itself a prequel to the original Star Wars. But according to showrunner Tony Gilroy, Andor is about more than just showing you what one member of the Rebellion did in the early days of the Alliance. It's about challenging what you think you know about how the Alliance formed in the first place.
Speaking to Vanity Fair about the series in a piece published this week, Gilroy — who came into Star Wars through rewrites and reshoots on Rogue One — and Luna laid out their hopes for the upcoming show, which begins five years before the events of Rogue One but also flashes back further to show the ways in which the Empire has stomped Cassian and his home world down. In telling the story of Andor, Gilroy said, he'll also tell the story of just how swiftly and brutally the Empire moved to reshape the galaxy in its image.
“His adopted home will become the base of our whole first season, and we watch that place become radicalized,” Gilroy said. “Then we see another planet that’s completely taken apart in a colonial kind of way. The Empire is expanding rapidly. They’re wiping out anybody who’s in their way.”
For Luna, digging into who Cassian was before Rogue One also meant reviving a great deal of backstory material that he generated for himself during the making of the original film, just to flesh out the character in his own mind. Now, he's able to apply it to the story of a guy who's robbed of any sense of home he thought he had.
“It’s the journey of a migrant, which to me is everything I come from,” Luna said. “That feeling of having to move is behind this story very profoundly, very strong. Not being able to be where you belong and how that shapes you as a person, how that defines you in many ways and what you are willing to do.”
That sense of constant movement will help define Andor's pre-Rebellion persona, which Gilroy noted is defined by anger more than any sense of duty or fighting for a cause.
“In the beginning of it all, he couldn’t give a s**t about any of that,” Gilroy said. “He’s a thief. He’s a ducker and a diver. He has a lot of anger about his childhood, and about the Empire, but he has no place to put it. He just doesn’t believe in anything at this point.”
So, the story of Andor is the story of how a guy who cares only about survival comes to care about other things, but that's far from all the series will focus on. Gilroy teased that the first season will also re-introduce towering Rebel Alliance figure Mon Mothma, played once again by Rogue One's Genevieve O'Reilly, who will begin the series as a diplomat still on Coruscant, working to loosen the ever-tightening Imperial grip on the galaxy. Her story reportedly won't actually intersect much with Cassian's, at least not in the first season, but her presence remains important. While Cassian undertakes what Gilroy calls a "film noir situation" of self-preservation that will draw the attention of a Rebel recruiter, we'll also see how the larger Alliance begins to take shape. It's a story that seems pretty obvious, but according to the showrunner, it's anything but.
“There are certain events that happen in these five years that are important and need to be paid attention to. There are certain people, characters that are legacy characters, that the audience, the passionate audience, really feels that they have an understanding of and know,” Gilroy said. “In some cases, they’re right. And in some cases, what we’re saying is, ‘What you know, what you’ve been told, what’s on Wookieepedia, what you’ve been telling each other…is really all wrong.”
He continued, “It’s upside down, or it’s sideways, or it’s the opposite of what you thought was true. Or it’s way more interesting than you had ever thought. Or that’s a lie and there’s a reason for it. I would say that there’s some surprises in store.”
Andor arrives later this year on Disney+.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.