New Star Wars series Andor is getting set to launch on Disney+ with three episodes on September 21. To get a preview, Vital Thrills talked to executive producer, writer and showrunner Tony Gilroy and the cast about the highly-anticipated show.
The 12-episode show takes place prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which debuted in theaters in December of 2016. Andor explores a new perspective from the Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make.
The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.
Tony Gilroy talked about what inspired him to create Andor. “I think the main idea is we have a character in Rogue One. And we know where he ends up. And we know how accomplished and complicated he is.”
“And the idea that we can do a story that takes him literally from his childhood origins and walk him through a five-year history of an odyssey that takes him to that place, during a revolution, during a moment in history in a place where huge events are happening and real people are being crushed by it, the fact that we could follow somebody as an example of a revolution all the way through to the end, that was the walk-in for me.”
Gilroy compared what happens in Andor with the current situation in our own world. He said, “It’s a potent moment in history. And a lot of people are facing a lot of really difficult times and difficult decisions along the way. And that’s what the show is about, the opportunity to do that on a large scale, on a big canvas, that’s why I’m here.”
Diego Luna, who reprises his Rogue One role as Cassian Andor, talked about returning to the role and filling in details on who Cassian is. “First of all, just the chance to be back working with this family, getting to do more stuff with Tony, which is someone I admire, and I love his company and, and collaborating with him is amazing.
He continued: “So just being back felt great. But I think Rogue One is a film about an event, you know? You don’t get to know those characters. You don’t get to understand exactly where they come from, what needed to happen.”
Luna said the story was important right now. “For me, it’s quite relevant today to tell the story of what needs to happen for a revolutionary to emerge, to exist, to come to live, you know. What gives meaning in the life of someone to be willing to sacrifice everything for a cause, you know? What needs to happen?
“That that journey matters to me. And the character says stuff that it haunts me in Rogue One. You know that he started to fight since he was six years old. What does that mean, exactly? You know, why a six-year-old would miss his childhood and start a fight?
“That, to me, is really interesting to know. He talks about a dark past. He talks about doing terrible stuff for the Rebellion. What is he referring to? I think that story matters. That story is interesting. And there is a lot of material there for us to play. So I was really excited to be able to go into that journey and give those answers you know.”
Fans of the original trilogy remember that there weren’t a lot of women in the films. That made the character of Mon Mothma really important to a lot of us. Genevieve O’Reilly plays her this time around (as she did in the prequel trilogy and Rogue One).
She spoke about what we can expect to see from her and exploring the different sides of a character we didn’t know a whole lot about. “We’ve met Mon Mothma before in different iterations, in different versions of the Star Wars storytelling. And each time we’ve met her, we’ve met this kind of composed, regal, dignified woman who often like with Cassian in Rogue One, she is to send people out on a mission.
“I think what’s extraordinary about how Tony has written Andor and where he has chosen to begin this story is so very different to where we find Mon Mothma in Rogue One. She is still that very dignified senator.
“But for the first time, we get to see the woman behind the role. We get to see a private face of Mon Mothma. We get to flesh out not just the senator, not just the would-be leader of a Rebel Alliance, but also the woman.”
Adria Arjona plays a new character, Bix Caleen, who has been kept mysterious for viewers before the series airs. She said of the woman she plays, “I liked a lot of things about Bix. I think she’s fearless. And she’s bold, yet really deep inside, she’s incredibly loyal and compassionate and cares a little too much for the people around her.
“And I think that’s sometimes at her own detriment. I think this boldness and powerful thing is sort of like a facade that she puts on for… She almost puts that as a show. But deep down, she cares deeply about the people around her. And I think that’s the part that I love the most about Bix.”
Another new character we’re meeting, this time on the side of the Empire, is Dedra Meero. Denise Gough described Dedra as an “outsider within the ISB,” as is the character of Syril Karn, played by Kyle Soller. Gough said of Dedra, “she’s clawing her way up the ladder. And I love portraying the effect that power just has on a person, like the danger of that pursuit of power and control, regardless of gender.”
Of Syril Karn, Soller said, “Well, what attracted me to the role was Tony’s writing. He had created a character that was really three-dimensional and had a big question mark over him as to, you know, he could kind of go either way. He could go into the Empire. He could go into the Rebel Alliance. And he’s got a lot of gray area.
“And he came from a place of such lack and it’s such a pain in his home life, that he’s trying to fill this void within himself through the fascist, corporate, bureaucratic structure, where he finds order. And he finds a place to be seen if he can supersede his station and climb those ranks. And so really, what Tony created and having a character that wasn’t really sure about himself was what kind of made it the most fun to play.”
Gilroy said the only reason we have this show is because of the fans. “The show exists because there’s an enormous, arterial, important, passionate Star Wars community.” He said that the “audience is our primary concern, and we want to bring something to them that is a completely different lane than what they’ve had before, but we’re doing it in a completely uncynical fashion.”
Gilroy added that you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of Star Wars to watch this show, and that, “this could be your entry point.” Plus, he says, though the stakes are huge, it’s, “…something that’s so intense emotionally and seems so true and is the smallest domestic dramas and the smallest interpersonal relationships that are dropped down in the midst of the epic tectonic revolutionary historical moments where people have to make huge decisions?
“Can we attract another audience that’s interested in that as well? Can we marry those two things together? That’s the gamble. That’s what we’re trying to do and that’s why we’re here.”
Luna said we’re looking at the question of “how far can someone be from learning he could be a tool of change?” He said we don’t see that happening at the beginning of the story… at first, but that Cassian’s change “gives me hope, you know, in the world we live in… if that’s possible, anyone can do something, you know. We can all find what we are capable of… I always thought of [Cassian] as a character that has been forced to move therefore he brings a pain that he’s carrying that is making him very cynical about life.
“And exploring that person and then finding a way to get the clarity of someone that suddenly starts believing, you know, that goes through a process of acknowledging that articulating something in community can give you enough strength to be useful and to bring change, you know. I thought that story matters too much. It’s a story I would like to tell to my kids, you know, to my friends.”
Luna said he wants to see a story like that as an audience member. “That’s why we have to be so real because it doesn’t matter, we pretend to be in a galaxy far, far away. This story matters today in the world we live in, you know. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care and I always saw this potential in this story.”
O’Reilly has had the unique perspective of playing a role that has been in several parts of the Star Wars mythology. She said, “I think the most exciting things about Mon Mothma is the bravery and where Tony has decided to begin. We meet Mon Mothma in a place we’ve never seen her before. We meet a woman steeped in Empire, navigating a very male-dominated Empire with a very powerful Emperor Palpatine at the top of it.”
She pointed out that we’ve mostly seen her surrounded by Rebels before. “I think the most exciting things about Mon Mothma is the bravery and where Tony has decided to begin. We meet Mon Mothma in a place we’ve never seen her before. We meet a woman steeped in Empire, navigating a very male-dominated Empire with a very powerful Emperor Palpatine at the top of it.
“To journey with her as a woman and finding her voice… reaching for voices that are fighting for similar things. Finding community, finding collaborators to be able to eventually be the leader that she becomes in Rogue One. So, there’s a journey to travel and I’m excited for people to hop on that train with us.”
Gough wasn’t a Star Wars fan as a kid, but said that working with Death Troopers was cool. She explained that she’d almost forgotten it was a Star Wars show until the trailer came out. “I’m like, oh my god, my nephews are going nuts.”
Arjona was asked about being of Latin descent and joining this series. “I mean, it’s pretty amazing. Diego has, you know, he’s been doing it for way longer than me. But it just, I don’t know, it gives me hope that now a little girl’s gonna watch it and be like oh my god, that girl kind of looks like me and maybe I want to be like her in Halloween or whatever that may be.
“But it’s really exciting. And it sort of comes to show how things are sort of shifting and I’m happy that Tony sort of brought me along, but it wasn’t part of the conversation, which was I think the most beautiful thing about it. It wasn’t like oh, you’re Hispanic, so you need to be in this.
“Tony was like, ‘Oh, you’re Bix,’ and it’s never justified, or we never even had a conversation about my own ethnicity. I think it was really just about the work. And I truly hope for in the future, that that question kind of isn’t asked as much anymore, that it sort of becomes this normality where seeing two actors like Diego and I in Star Wars is cool and it’s the norm.”