Following the success of The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Star Wars universe continues to expand on TV with another new spinoff, Andor. The latest Disney+ series created by Tony Gilroy and starring Diego Luna goes back in time before the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, to explore the political intrigue surrounding the dawn of the rebellion as everyday people push back on life under the Empire.
For Gilroy, who co-wrote Rogue One, the two-season series presented an opportunity to “go back and figure out how this person [Cassian Andor] ended up in Rogue, being the person that he is and doing what he does and giving his life for the galaxy,” he tells ET.
Set five years before the events of the movie, which saw Luna’s titular character, Cassian Andor, sacrificing his life in order to execute the Rebel Alliance’s first effective blow against the Empire, an incident first referenced in the opening of Star Wars: A New Hope, Andor’s ending may already be known but it’s the journey there that remains unknown. Until now.
“The character goes from A to B. We both know what A and B are. But what we don’t know is what’s possible in between,” Luna says, explaining that the series is ultimately about “the layers that normally you don’t think about, it’s about what’s in between the lines.”
With the series, that means seeing Cassian embark on a path that’s destined to turn him into a rebel hero while navigating the danger, deception and intrigue that comes with the high stakes of starting a secret alliance and taking on the Empire. More specifically, audiences meet the character at a time when they could not possibly believe that he would end up going through with “this huge and amazing sacrifice,” Luna says.
He adds that the series will show “what needs to happen in the life of someone to wake up, to have this revolutionary awakening.”
The series is also a sprawling saga “about people bringing change,” Luna says, and features an ensemble of new and returning characters, including Genevieve O’Reilly back as Mon Mothma after first playing the Rebel Alliance leader in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One.
At this point, however, Mon Mothma is still a senator, “when there is no rebellion,” she says. “Therefore, she has to navigate a very shadowy world of Imperial politics to step forward and advocate for the rebellion.” She’s steeped in a side of the Empire that “we’ve never seen before,” she adds, teasing that fans are “in for something new.”
“They’re right to discover a different style of Star Wars set within the Star Wars universe,” O’Reilly continues. “But it is beautifully intricately, complicatedly human.”
So much so that Gilroy also hopes “that you understand characters who only appear for an episode,” he says, adding that he wants viewers to “really understand what they’re about.”
Among the franchise newcomers are soon-to-be breakout star Kyle Soller as Syril Karn, the Deputy Inspector of Pre-Mor Authority, a security organization hired by the Empire, and his superior Chief Hyne, played by Rupert Vansittart.
When it comes to the series’ big bad, Soller describes Syril as “extremely driven, obsessed with law and order, control and power, and is searching for a sense of identity outside of himself through the fascist structure of the Empire system.”
“He’s willing to do anything to achieve what he sets his mind to,” the actor continues. “But really, if you look at it, he’s just trying to do his job. He’s got a very high moral code and it just so happens to fall in line with getting rewarded by Emperor Palpatine.”
Furthering Gilroy’s point, “you get to understand why Syril is the way that he is as we go further into the series,” Soller says.
Also joining are Adria Arjona as Andor’s ally, Bix Caleen; James McArdle as Caleen’s co-worker, Timm Karlo; Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen Rael, Caleen’s contact in the Rebel Alliance; Fiona Shaw as Cassian’s adoptive mother, Maarva Andor; and Gary Beadle as Maarva’s partner, Clem Andor.
Drawn into Cassian’s world after adopting him, Shaw teases that audiences will see Maarva at various ages as the series jumps back and forth in time. “I age up for that part… but I also play myself much younger, so I age down for this part,” she says, explaining that “we never meet her at my age. You always meet her older or younger.”
As for the series’ two seasons, which will unfold over 24 episodes, Gilroy says the set time meant they “knew exactly where we’re going and where we wanted to go and exactly how we could get there.”
He adds, “You’re not vamping. You’re not worried. You’re not making mistakes. Everything’s intentional and it’s also just incredible.”
And when it specifically comes to the first three episodes, which are now streaming on Disney+, it’s really just the beginning. “You can start really small and let it build. So, we came from a position of strength,” Gilroy says, explaining that starting with episode four, “we just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s very patient and it’s a very brave way to start.”
If nothing else, “it’s a hell of a ride,” Arjona quips.
New episodes of Andor debut Wednesdays on Disney+.
–Reporting by Will Marfuggi and Stacy Lambe