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'Star Wars': Tony Gilroy laid out his pitch for 'Andor' to Lucasfilm in a 'long, forensic manifesto'

Andor lands on Disney+ with its first three episodes Wednesday, Sep. 21.

By Josh Weiss
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR

After the release of Rogue One and its massive box office triumph in 2016, co-screenwriter Tony Gilroy didn't have much interest in returning to the Star Wars franchise. But once the Oscar-nominated scribe behind other big screen hits like Michael Clayton and the Bourne films got wind of a prequel series centered around the character of Diego Luna's Rebel spy, Cassian Andor, he just couldn't help himself. Diving into the origins of the highly-anticipated Disney+ show with Variety, Gilroy recalled how he whipped up "a long, forensic manifesto," with his ideas on what the show could look like. "It was such a crazy idea," admitted the showrunner/executive producer. "It was so radical, so out there."

The goal was simple: lean heavily into the spirit of Rogue One by shining a spotlight on the everyday citizens of this sprawling mythos and their growing resistance against the Empire. "I wanted to do it about real people,” Gilroy explained. "They’ve made all this IP about the royal family, in essence. It’s been great. But there’s a billion, billion, billion other beings in the galaxy. There’s plumbers and cosmeticians. Journalists! What are their lives like? The revolution is affecting them just as much as anybody else. Why not use the Star Wars canon as a host organism for absolutely realistic, passionate, dramatic storytelling?"

Check out a first look clip below, in which Cassian explains why it's so easy to cheat the Empire:

Gilroy ended up with a two-season canvas on which to explore Cassian's clandestine involvement with the nascent Rebel Alliance that we know will one day steal the blueprints for the Death Star and bring an end to Palpatine and Vader's horrific tyranny. The first season, which premieres next month, will cover the span of an entire year five years  before Rogue One while the second installment (production begins this fall) is set to stretch across four years before taking audiences right into the events of Rogue One.

“You just couldn’t possibly physically make five years of the show,” Gilroy said when asked about why he opted to give the story a concrete endgame after its second batch of 12 episodes. “I mean, Diego would be, like, 65. I’d be in a nursing home. We were panicked. We can’t sign on to this forever ... Star Wars is growing in ways that it can allow itself to have different expressions. We’re not part of a saga that doesn’t end. Our end is clear. It’s as clear as an end can be."

Despite Andor's streaming home of Disney+, Gilroy is adamant that the series is grittier and more mature than one might think. “I don’t think it’s a show for 9-year-olds, probably,” Gilroy continued, stating that the goal is to draw in fans and non-fans alike. "We are an adventure story. We are a thriller. And in a really abundant way, we’re creating a lot of IP. Some of it’s ground level: products and TV shows, all kinds of things. They’re all brand new."

Andor lands on Disney+ with its first three episodes 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.