Andor is ‘the most grounded Star Wars you can get,’ says Diego Luna
The cast and crew of the series disentangle the most complicated aspects of the Star Wars world.
Cassian Andor is an unusual match for a solo endeavour in a genre that lives and dies by its white-knight heroes. While Rey, Luke, Han, and Obi-Wan grapple with their ability to cause damage, Cassian recounts doing awful things in behalf of the Rebel Alliance in his first (and only) film. In the first time we see him in Rogue One, he shoots his informant who is unable to accompany him on the escape. He is unyielding and generally pessimistic. That is why Diego Luna says he wanted to return to the role.
Luna tells Polygon, “I don’t think he wants to be a hero.” “When we meet him, he definitely doesn’t believe he’s capable of achieving anything significant.” He’s surviving, but he’s a wreck. He’s having a pretty cynical moment where he’s only thinking about his nose.”
Andor picks up with Cassian five years before meeting Jyn Erso in Rogue One. Things are nearly as bad for him as they were in the prequel film, which concludes with his death (among many others). In the series, we find him on Ferrix, the Star Wars version of a blue-collar village on the outside of the known world. There are no Jedi in the area, the Empire is at its pinnacle of power, and Cassian’s personal stakes have little to do with the war for the fate of the galaxy. “This is the time when he’s the distant he can be from the character we meet [in Rogue One,” Luna says.
But Andor shares Rogue One’s instinct for maintaining a close, ground-level eye on how the Star Wars universe’s big stakes and fights come together. With Tony Gilroy once again directing Cassian’s tale (he penned both Rogue One and Andor and serves as an executive producer on the series), there’s a strong emphasis on how the galaxy’s huge swells feel on a local level.
“The idea that we can do a story that literally takes him from his childhood origins and walks him through a five-year history of an odyssey that takes him to that place — during a revolution, during a moment in history when huge events are happening and real people are being crushed by it,” Gilroy said at an Andor press conference in August. “The possibility to follow someone as an example of a revolution all the way to the conclusion […] that was the buy-in for me.”
Gilroy hopes to extend the granularity of that trip to the people and movements Cassian’s life affects during the program. When Cassian’s existence interacts with the Rebel Alliance, it’s shown from a far different perspective than viewers of the films are used to, with fragmented clusters and deception. Mon Mothma is still there to keep the struggle going, but she’s under far different conditions than we’ve seen her before.
“We’ve encountered Mon Mothma in many forms, different interpretations of the Star Wars saga.” And each time we’ve met her, we’ve met this really collected, royal, dignified woman,” Mon Mothma’s Genevieve O’Reilly remarked during a press briefing for the program. “[Here], she remains that elegant senator. But for the first time, we see the lady behind the character. We get to see a more personal side of Mon Mothma; we get to know not just the senator, not just the would-be Rebel Alliance commander, but also the lady.”
Mon Mothma is just getting started in her disobedience and eventual revolt against the system she’s been a part of for years. It’s a different perspective than we’ve seen in many Star Wars stories, and it’s not the only one: Andor also takes a close look at our villains.
In the first few episodes of the program, we see two faces of the Dark Side far lower down the ladder than we’ve seen before: There’s Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), an ambitious and thorough Imperial Security Bureau official hoping to advance in the Empire’s ranks. Then there’s Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), a local enforcer with enormous authority in Cassian’s community. Theirs are the kinds of delicate storylines that Star Wars feeds on: two individuals who are heroes in their own stories, and whose desire for power predicts darker things.
“Having a character who wasn’t sure about himself made him the most exciting to portray,” Soller remarked of Syril. “He could kind of go either way — he could join the Empire or the Rebel Alliance.” He has a lot of grey area. And he came from a situation of such scarcity and sorrow in his own life. He’s attempting to fill this emptiness inside himself by utilizing the fascist corporate bureaucratic system, where he finds order and a place to test whether he can surpass his position.”
That type of uncertainty is not necessarily appealing to Star Wars enthusiasts. But, with every new prequel promising to go deeper, explain everything, and keep the ties to the movies you love while creating something fresh, few stand out as intelligently as Andor. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the program tasked with taking the darkest Star Wars narrative and delving even further into it would have to put its money where its mouth is. But, in its first four episodes, Andor appears to be quite trusting of its audience. This is not a Star Wars where heroes wander or where you can see how the day was rescued.It’s less about what occurs in the Star Wars world and more about how it happens.
As a result, going into Andor and expecting Cassian Andor to be the dazzling white knight of the resistance would be stupid. If everything goes as planned — Tony Gilroy’s, Disney’s, and beyond — we’ll finally grasp what he means when he stares soulfully at Jyn Erso and says he’s been in this struggle doing awful things since he was six years old. Even though there aren’t any laughs or lightheartedness, and even if the Empire holds the upper hand throughout the series, Luna sees the tale as instructional — and perhaps even optimistic.
“It’s a unique approach.” It’s still about transformation, about freedom, and about fairness. However, this is a different technique. Luna describes it as “the most grounded Star Wars you can get.” “I believe [Cassian’s] method will be more about knowing what a community is capable of.” It’s not the same, you know? This is a narrative about ordinary people realizing what they are capable of if they explain things in community and act in community.”