Diego Luna and Tony Gilroy discuss expanding the 'Star Wars' brand canon in 'Andor.'
When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released in 2016, Star Wars fans got an idea of who Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) was and what he had been through, fighting and being a part of the revolution since he was a child. With Andor on Disney+, the backstory for the eponymous rebel will be honored, but also expanded, while also widening out the origin story scope to include the community around him.
Andor creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy said during the Television Critics Association press tour that the "touch points" and "snapshots" that Rogue One provided for Cassian were "navigational points" for him in crafting this new story. He built out from what he knew, understanding that eventually Cassian would get to a very dark place in the overarching canon, even as he built backwards.
"We fit into all of those very well, but we completely expand on those, and it felt very important, particularly, for someone we're taking on a 5-year journey to be completely invested in their story from their origin to the end," Gilroy explained.
The first season of Andor will consist of 12 episodes that span the course of a year in Cassian's life and the journey of the rebellion. The second season will be another 12 episodes, split up into four blocks of three episodes each, with each block representing another year in that 5-year journey Gilroy referenced.
"We get to take the formative forging of Cassian Andor in the first 12 episodes...and then we get to run that up in a really exciting narrative fashion. The final scene in the 24th episode of the show will walk you directly into the first scene in Rogue One," he said.
In doing this, Gilroy noted that the production team is "telling the story that we want to tell," but also "not violating the brand canon" in telling it.
Speaking to how dark Cassian gets in Rogue One and ending his Andor journey in a way that sets that up, Gilory acknowledged the "many sacrifices" and "epic decisions" along the way, saying, "This is about these huge, titanic forces manipulating people's lives, forcing them to make decisions. The story of revolution and what it really means is very complicated, very interesting to delve into as a writer, and by the time we get to Rogue One, what's great about building this show back and seeing ... the killing is sad. If we are successful with the 24 episodes that we make, when you watch Rogue, a lot of the scenes in Rogue are going to take a deeper significance."
In order to embody Cassian for the film, Luna had to create some backstory in his mind beyond what was in that screenplay. Now faced with receiving backstory that would become canon for the character, he admitted that he was "pretty amused by realizing how close it was to what I had in mind — in essence, obviously, because the story is completely his. The motivations of the character are pretty close to what I was imagining back then."
But Luna also wanted to stress that the title of the show may be a bit "unfair."
"This is about a community; it's an ensemble. It's about what we can do and what we are capable of; the strength is in numbers," he said.
Part of that ensemble includes the dark side.
In speaking to the inclusion of the Imperials, Gilroy said, "It's just a huge part of the show. It's a gas to write it. They are the absolute dark side of the show. In our show, there's a very large spy element; we're dealing with the ISB, so we're dealing with something new. ... There's some legacy to it, but we're really going into it. And as dark as they are, it's also a work environment: They're regular people: They go to work, they compete at work...they are vulnerable, they are complicated, and they're a huge part of our show." He added that Denise Gough's character takes the audience into the ISB.
As the show focuses on the humanity of characters across both sides of the rebellion, showing that they are more complicated than the stance may suggest, Luna feels it is important to show "the gray areas of the revolution."
"I believe a story like this can allow us to make comments and to talk about what matters to you. It's easy to say this happened in a galaxy far, far away, therefore I can't reflect on my own reflection of where we're heading and what can be done. I love that this story is about regular people — it's about you and I; it's about us. And Cassian is full of those comments," Luna said.
Andor premieres with its first three episodes Sept. 21