Cassian Andor, Star Wars
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Coronavirus furloughs hit Lucasfilm and Diego Luna gives a Cassian Andor series update

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May 11, 2020, 9:49 PM EDT (Updated)

Time again for STAR WARS WEEKLY, the SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the most important news of the week from a galaxy far, far away.

Think of us as your own personal Star Wars Holocron.

LUCASFILM FURLOUGH

Variety reports that Lucasfilm employees are being furloughed as part of a larger Walt Disney company policy. This is mostly hitting employees who can't continue working during the coronavirus pandemic. It started with Disney Parks employees but now has made its way into the studios.

What this means for release schedules of future Star Wars content — from Rian Johnson's greatly anticipated trilogy to the second season of The Mandalorian — is unclear at this moment.

The only thing to do is wait. And hope.

"Hope is like the sun," a wise general once said. "If you only believe in it when you can see it, you'll never make it through the night."

JAY BENEDICT, LUKE'S FRIEND DEAK, DIES AT 68

The coronavirus took another Star Wars actor from the world this week. Jay Benedict was 68 and a little less well known in Star Wars circles. Benedict played Luke's childhood friend Deak Starkiller, but all of his scenes in A New Hope were cut.

That didn't stop Benedict from having a successful career with parts in other films, even if some of those were cut, too. He had an important role in James Cameron's Aliens that ended up on the cutting-room floor until later cuts of the film were released, in which he played Newt's father on LV-426. He also appeared in The Dark Knight Rises.

The coronavirus also claimed the life of Andrew Jack, who played the sequel trilogy's General Caluan Ematt, earlier this month. The losses are a somber reminder that we should stay home and stay safe to prevent the further spread of this virus — perhaps while we watch Star Wars, including all of the deleted scenes the departed Mr. Benedict appeared in.

MANDALORIAN ART

Doug Chiang, the legendary Star Wars designer, posted some of his art of The Mandalorian and the so-called "Baby Yoda" on his Instagram, and it's quite a thing to see.

It's worth your time to follow Chiang. He's always posting little sketches and gorgeous pieces of art. Take this, for instance, a watercolor sketch he did of IG-11 sketching "the asset":

Chiang began working on Star Wars with the Special Editions, but really established the look of the prequels and could be considered the new Ralph McQuarrie.

Here's one last Mandalorian sketch from him:

CASSIAN AND K-2

Diego Luna, the actor behind Cassian Andor in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will soon star in a prequel TV series for Disney+ about his character. But, between The Mandalorian soaking up all of the attention and the up-in-the-air nature of everything because of the coronavirus, the Rogue One spinoff hasn't received much attention.

It sounds like it's going forward, though, if an interview with Diego Luna from Indiewire is any indication. He took to the site's live Instagram feed to talk about how returning to the character is a "nice challenge."

"What happens when you already know the ending?" he said. "Everything is in how you tell the story, how many layers you can find. This can't be a show where we surprise you, like, 'Oh no, it wasn't him, he didn't die.' We know the ending ... the last scene was a scene we all know, so it makes a different part of your brain work. You can't use the same storylines people are used to. Now, we start with a character that people already know what he's capable of."

There's no date on the release of this show, or even a title. We'll keep you updated when we have more.

THE MERRY RISE OF SKYWALKER

It was announced yesterday that Ian Doescher will be completing his saga of Star Wars Shakespeare adaptations with the July release of The Merry Rise of Skywalker.

Doescher has given the Shakespeare treatment to all of the previous Skywalker films to date, and they're quite popular. If you're not sure about how great these are, watch this clip (below) of Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid reading a selection from The Jedi Doth Return at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015:

Electrifying.

TOGETHER AGAIN

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is in its final season, and the penultimate arc wraps up today in "Together Again."

This episode has everything you'd ever want: Ahsoka, Mandalorians, Pykes, Toongs …

It also features quite a few surprises and easter eggs that we might not want to talk about here. But you'll know them when you see or hear them, connecting this episode to larger events in the galaxy.

This episode is doubly exciting because it directly leads into the arc that will give us the Siege of Mandalore, which starts next week.

Another bit of interesting news came from the Full of Sith podcast (of which I am a host). We had composer Kevin Kiner on the show. He revealed that for the final arc of The Clone Wars he was able to utilize a full orchestra and choir. He offered a lot of great tidbits about his work on The Clone Wars, so don't hesitate to listen to the whole interview.

New episodes of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiere on Disney+ on Fridays.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ON THE TODAY SHOW

For the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, we've been digging up all kinds of interesting bits of video for you. This week, we have a vintage Today Show interview with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford promoting the film. It's interesting to hear how far back the plan for the prequels went. It's doubly interesting (and just fun) to notice that it feels like Hamill and Ford seem to think they're in two different interviews.

Until next week: May the Force be with you!

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