Everything We Know

Everything We Know About Andor, the Upcoming Star Wars Series

Who is Cassian Andor? Who's in it besides star Diego Luna? When does Andor premiere?

by | August 1, 2022 | Comments

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Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is, in his way, the breakout character from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Introduced as one of the Alliances more ruthless spies, his belief in its mission to end Imperial oppression leads him not only to sign up with Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones) plan to raid Scarif and retrieve the Death Star plans, but face the end of his life to ensure the data gets off planet and into the hands of the Rebels.

At Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also referenced his bravery when she introduced the cast and producers of the upcoming series.

“I think what’s remarkable is the sacrifice that Cassian Andor makes for the galaxy,” she said when asked why the company choose to return to the character. “And I’m going to add to that the way Diego Luna plays him.”

Indeed, Luna’s charm is another good reason to spend more time with the character in Andor. But considering his status as a Rebel spy, we’ve built our own dossier on the series — complete with quotes from some of the cast and producers — to get a better handle on who he is before his mission begins and, potentially, what it means to focus on a character whose last moments have already been written.

The Mission: Tell the Story of Cassian Andor’s Rise to Revolutionary

Andor digital key art

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

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Forming the first half of a 24-part novel for television, the first 12-episode season of Andor will tell the tale of Cassian Andor’s shift from migrant refugee to revolutionary. As creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy explained at Celebration, “those [first 12] episodes will take us one year closer” to his Rogue One fate. The second season, “will take the story over the next four years.” He subsequently added that the overall story will — if they’re creatively successful — give scenes in Rogue One a “deeper significance.”

The starting point for the series also means Cassian’s lovable if blunt droid, K2-SO (Alan Tudyk), will be missing from the first season. This is a slight change from where the program was in 2019. At that year’s Star Wars Celebration, Tudyk appeared on stage to talk up the program. But as it developed, the pair’s first meeting shifted to the second season. Gilroy eventually said moving their meeting to a later part in the series happened for “multiple story reasons.”

Diego Luna in ANDOR

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Season 1, meanwhile, sees Cassian already displaced from his homeworld by the Empire, and he soon sees his second planet falling under its grip. As Luna told Vanity Fair in a June 2022 cover feature, “[The planet is] completely taken apart in a colonial kind of way. The Empire is expanding rapidly. They’re wiping out anybody who’s in their way.” The echoes of the Empire’s previous influence on his life will also be seen via flashback — one of which appears to occur in the trailer, provided the boy in the yellow-gold tunic is Cassian.

Viewers will also see Cassian spill more blood to achieve his goals. Although, as Luna told Vanity Fair, those goals are quite selfish as the series begins. Describing the character as a “ducker and diver,” he said Cassian is motivated by the rage his displacement at the hands of the Empire harbored within him. But he is also a fairly nihilistic lad at this point, so even the notion of rebellion seems pointless to him. At the same time, as he says in the trailer released on August 1, stealing from the Empire is easy because — 15 years on — there already a “fat and satisfied” regime. That willingness to abscond with Imperial property will make him a valuable asset even if he doesn’t believe in the Rebel cause just yet.

Genevieve O'Reilly in ANDOR

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The series will also focus on Mon Mothma, the enigmatic Rebel leader introduced in Return of the Jedi (as played by Caroline Blakiston) who went on to lead the New Republic in the Expanded Universe novels and games set after that film. In the early 2000s, Genevieve O’Reilly was cast as a younger Mon Mothma for a scene in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith meant to establish the earliest form of the Rebel Alliance, but it was cut. Nevertheless, the actor returned as the character in Rogue One and voiced her on Star Wars Rebels. She returns once again in Andor as almost a parallel story to Cassian’s through the first season. In fact, although their tales cross, they will not meet during the initial 12 episodes.

Instead, she is still on Coruscant attempting to build an opposition while in a Galactic Senate under the electric thumb of Emperor Sheev Palpatine (a presumably unseen Ian McDiarmid). As she puts it in the recent trailer, she feigns to be “an irritant” to mask her true goals. And her efforts there will make her a key part of the events leading up to the Death Star’s destruction.

“It’s such a gift to come back to this role. As actors, we join something for a series or a play. You invest in a character for maybe three years if your lucky,” O’Reilly said during the Celebration presentation. “I played this woman nearly 17 years ago. And to come back and investigate her now with Tony’s writing and alongside Diego Luna, I feel so lucky.”

The series will also lend some time to the Empire. As glimpsed in the August 1 trailer, Game of ThronesAnton Lesser and Under the Banner of Heaven’s Denise Gough will feature as Imperial agents. Gilroy subsequently told reporters at the Summer 2022 Television Critics Association press tour that the pair are members of the Imperial Security Bureau — the agency tasked with quelling any possible rebellion. Of course, with that pressure heating up, these agents may be off their footing. “It’s pretty complicated to be in the Empire in this period of time” Gilroy told Rotten Tomatoes when we asked him about depicting Imperial oppression at Celebration. “And that’s a really interesting thing to explore.”

During the TCA event, he further amplified how the Imperials fit into Andor. “As dark as [the characters] are, it’s also a work environment. They compete. They are careerists. They are vulnerable. They are complicated.” The suggestion: a greater sense of the antagonists as people than Star Wars often allows.

“It’s interesting to see this angle on these very dark characters,” Luna added. “As Tony is saying, you’ll see them and they brush their teeth, too. It is quite unique to visit this universe with this amount of attention to detail and intimacy.”

The Location: The Story Is Set on a Lush Planet and on Coruscant

ANDOR trailer screencap

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Since the series takes place five years prior to both Rogue One and the original Star Wars, the look and feel of the galaxy will be familiar. It is a dark time across the stars and even as the Empire builds pristine fortresses and factories, it is a grimy, sweaty time. And that look is faithful replicated in the stills and trailers Lucasfilm and Disney have released so far.

It is also a time in which the Rebellion is in the minds of more than Mon Mothma. Thanks to animated series and at least one video game, we know other characters are also trying to build a strong resistance to the Empire. Also, for further triangulation of other events, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) left Tatooine just five years prior and the Bad Batch fled the destruction of the Kamino cloning facility another four years before even that. The point: Cassian could very easily run into Wrecker, Hera Syndulla, “Fulcrum,” or other characters populating the galaxy just before the Battle of Yavin.

ANDOR trailer screencap

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Meanwhile, his base of operations — according to Luna, anyway — is the planet he fled to. It’s name is still unknown, but the glimpses of it in the trailer will remind fans of the Yavin IV moon and its lush vegetation. That bio-resource may be the real reason for the Imperial colonization effort. Of course, that could be Cassian’s original home and the more developed world of stone structures is the place to which he fled.

And since Mon Mothma’s story will be told in the series, we expect to see a lot of more Coruscant, the Imperial capital world. Considering the way it was depicted in the Prequel Trilogy, we assume an even greater level of inequality will be on display, with the top floors of skyscrapers reserved for Imperial cronies and the lower floors housing (or not) the underclasses. The few glimpses of the planet in the trailers suggest as much.

The Assets: Diego Luna Leads the Cast

Diego Luna in ANDOR

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Luna returns as Cassian. As mentioned, the character will be a lot more self-centered than the man we saw in Rogue One. He will be as ruthless, though, and the change in his reasoning for his action will be a major part of his arc.

“[When] you see Cassian in the five years before Rogue One, you wouldn’t believe he was capable of what he did [in the film],” Luna told Rotten Tomatoes at Celebration, adding that he felt illustrating the character’s journey from selfishness to a truly selfless act is important. “It reminds us what we are all capable of, you know? It doesn’t matter how far you feel from actually being part of change. I like it because I always feel, with Star Wars, that it ends up being very pertinent and, today, we live in a world that needs us involved. And this is a story about that awakening.”

O’Reilly returns once again as Mon Mothma. Although, her situation in the Celebration teaser seems the most dire as she notes the eyes of the Empire are everywhere and even her body language speaks to an unprecedented level of surveillance regarding her actions.

Stellan Skarsgard in ANDOR trailer screencap

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, and Kyle Soller are also set to appear with Forest Whitaker returning once again as renegade rebel Saw Gerrera — a character he first played in Rogue One at the end of his life, but has since reprised (earlier in his timeline) in Rebels and the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game. Skarsgård and Arjona will be upfront in the first episode as Cassian must confront them on the worst day of his life. According to Gilroy during the Celebration presentation, Skarsgård’s character, Luthen Rael, is a Rebel leader — but the writer also noted the description is something of a company boilerplate, suggesting there may be a great deal more to the character. The August trailer sees him using disguises and wigs and the character himself notes that he has been “hiding too long.” Arjona is also, presumably, a member of the Alliance (or soon to be) as her world seemingly comes under the boot of the Empire. And if the subtitles on the teaser are to be believed, Shaw’s character is called Maarva.

From the look things in both previews, Soller’s character appears to be a member of a local defense force — although the earlier shot of him in an Imperial research or detention facility suggests the defense he mounts may ultimately failed.

The Minders: Rogue One’s Tony Gilroy Serves as Showrunner

Tony Gilroy and Diego Luna

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Much like Rogue One itself, Gilroy (pictured above left with Luna) enters the story in its second chapter. Jared Bush originally developed the series with The Americans’ Stephen Schiff set as showrunner. The rigors of development ultimately changed those plans and Gilroy was invited to assume control. Schiff is also still onboard as an episode writer with Gilroy’s brother, Dan Gilroy, and House of Cards’ Beau Willimon joining them in the writer’s room.

And although the Star Wars universe lends itself to more binary notions of light and dark, Gilroy suggested a certain level of ambiguity will be part of the series.

“I treat everybody the same. I love all my characters. I don’t care who they are,” he explained. “I lived through all of them, and if you’re going write 1500 pages or 24 episodes of a show, you better have some really important people on the distaff side of the show.”

Although Gilroy intended to direct the first three episodes, the Covid-19 pandemic altered his plans with Black Mirror’s Toby Haynes picking up those duties. Ben Caron and Susanna White also serve as episode directors. Executive producers include Kennedy, Gilroy, Luna, and Sanne Wohlenberg. Appearing at Celebration, Wohlenberg told us the events of the series will naturally draw “parallels to the real life, to the real world.”

“That’s why the audience finds such connections to those stories,” Wohlenberg said. “And that’s why they’re always relevant and a real gift.”

The Start Time: Andor Premieres on September 21

ANDOR sizzle reel screencap

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Originally meant to premiere on August 31, the series will debut on September 21 with its first three episodes. The remaining nine will stream weekly on Wednesdays. Also, as Gilroy explained at Celebration, the second season, also planned to be 12 episodes, will begin shooting in November. At the summer TCA press tour, he offered one further detail on Season 2: every three episodes will comprise an event in each year of Cassian’s life between the first season and his first scene in Rogue One. “The four blocks in the second half will be one year in Cassian’s life. “It’s just fascinating,” he said. “We get to take the formative forging of Cassian in the first twelve episode and take that organism and run it through the next four years [of his life] in a really exciting fashion.”

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