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'Andor' will be the first 'Star Wars' project to acknowledge sex in the galaxy far, far away

Tony Gilroy isn't pulling any punches with his Rogue One prequel.

By Josh Weiss
Andor Season 1 Episode 1

Andor creator Tony Gilroy isn't pulling any punches with his Rogue One prequel series (arriving on Disney+ this week). He set out to make a Lucasfilm project for adults, and that's exactly what he did, including mature elements and themes audiences haven't quite seen in the galaxy far, far away up to this point.

In fact, the very first episode begins with a trip to a brothel and a no-doubt-about-it acknowledgement of the fact that people it, shall we say, in the Star Wars universe. That's right, Andor contains sex — or at least an overt implication of the sensual deed — which makes the show an absolute game-changer for the nearly 50-year-old franchise. But when the Oscar-nominated writer behind Michael Clayton and the Bourne trilogy wants to bring his sensibilities to the table, how can you possibly say no?

“It sure is a good tell when you turn in that first episode for them to say, ‘Whoa! OK, this is what the show’s gonna be like,’” Gilroy stated during a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “It was a marker, but it’s also good for the story. It served double duty.” He recalled having a "blue-sky conversation" with Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy, probing her with questions about what he could and couldn't do with the beloved sci-fi saga. "The galaxy is just enormous. There’s billions of creatures that are living their lives. And so far the narrative has been focused on a singular group of people in a centralized storyline. It just seemed like infinite possibilities to take it [away from that]."

Picking up five years before the eventual suicide mission that will land Death Star blueprints into the hands of a shaky Rebel Alliance, Andor tracks the rise of its titular protagonist, Cassian Andor (once again played by Diego Luna) from common thief to hardened resistance spy. With 24 episodes spread across two seasons (production on the second batch of 12 begins this fall), Gilroy and his team have the time and real estate to explore a galaxy in transition as the downtrodden citizens begin to rise up against the Empire. The creator likened the narrative to The Winds of War, Herman Woulk's WWII-centric novel that became a TV miniseries in 1983.

“War is coming," Gilroy said. "The stories and characters are meant to be ground level; even a plot twist early on, where a character calls the Imperial cops on Andor because of romantic jealousy, is fresh territory for Star Wars." Fresh is the operative word here, so don't expect to see space wizards, glowing laser swords, or kidnapped princesses. “If you think about it, most of the beings in the galaxy are not aware of Jedi, and have never seen a lightsaber," Gilroy continued. "That topic and the Star Wars royal family have been chewed on for a long time. It’s like, there’s a restaurant and we’re in the kitchen. This is what’s going on underneath the other stuff."

“This is the most grounded that Star Wars will get,” added Luna. “We are stressing that change and revolution happen when regular people decide to do something. It’s just regular people trying to survive in the darkest time in this galaxy, and finding out they can’t take it anymore. It’s about a system that is choking society.”

Genevieve O’Reilly (reprising the role of Rebel leader, Senator Mon Mothma), Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, Fiona Shaw, and Faye Marsay round out the cast. Gilroy, Luna, and Kennedy serve as executive producers with Sanne Wohlenberg, and Michelle Rejwan.

The first three episodes of Andor premiere on Disney+ this Wednesday — Sep. 21.

Looking for more dark sci-fi space adventures? SYFY's acclaimed Battlestar Galactica adaptation is streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has the new space thriller The Ark coming next season.