Andor series will make fans see Star Wars spin-off Rogue One in a new light

Diego Luna as rebel leader Cassian Andor in the new prequel series Andor, which covers his backstory. PHOTO: DISNEY+

LOS ANGELES – A two-hour or so movie does not usually have the time to explore every lead character’s backstory.

But fans of rebel leader Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from the hit science-fiction film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) will get all their questions about him answered – and then some – in the new prequel series Andor.

Premiering on Disney+ on Wednesday, it is a spy thriller that will rewind the clock five years to trace Andor’s troubled past and follow his path to becoming a revolutionary hero.

Those years – rife with danger and political intrigue – will see early stirrings of revolt against the Galactic Empire, and the show’s creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy has that timeline meticulously mapped out.

With two seasons of 12 episodes each, Season 1 will cover the first year of Andor’s backstory, and Season 2, which has been ordered, will look at the next four.

“We get to take the formative forging of Cassian Andor (in that first year), and then we get to take that organism we built up and run it through the next four years in a really exciting narrative fashion,” Gilroy, 66, says at a virtual press event.

“Then in our last scene of the show, our 24th episode, we’ll walk the audience directly into the first scenes of Rogue One,” adds the American writer-director, who also co-wrote the film, which was a critical and commercial success.

His goal is to link the show and the movie so seamlessly that fans rewatching the film will find new layers of meaning.

“If we are successful with the 24 episodes that we make, when you watch Rogue One, a lot of scenes are going to take on a deeper significance and a deeper resonance,” says Gilroy, who penned the Jason Bourne spy-thriller films (2002 to 2012) and got Best Director and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations for his directorial debut, the legal thriller Michael Clayton (2007).

For Luna, who is reprising his role as Andor, the series overlaps, uncannily, with the backstory he had concocted for the character while shooting the film.

“I was doing Rogue One and it was just part of what an actor has to do: create a backstory that explains why you make a choice, understand it perfectly and feel it as something personal,” says the 42-year-old Mexican star, who appeared in the drug-trafficking drama Narcos: Mexico (2018 to 2021).

So he was shocked when he sat down with Gilroy and the showrunner revealed his character’s arc in the series.

“I realised the motivations of the character are really close to what I had in mind and what we were discussing back then,” the actor says.

Another unusual thing about the series is that those who watched the movie will know that Andor meets with an untimely end there.

Mexican actor Diego Luna arriving for the launch of Disney+ series Andor in Hollywood on Sept 15, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

But that is not a problem as far as Gilroy or Luna are concerned.

“We’re all living in a prequel” and “we’re all going to die”, says Gilroy philosophically.

When fans watch their favourite film repeatedly, knowledge of the hero’s fate does not take away from the enjoyment, he points out. “You’re watching it again because you’re invested in it.”

For Luna, the show offers a unique opportunity to change what fans thought they knew about the Rogue One story and “to challenge everything you think about Cassian”.

“Everything that made sense when you were watching the film is now going to be challenged because I do have that in mind. I know where it ends, and I can be very creative about how to get there,” he says.

At the same time, the series will keep its feet planted firmly on the ground.

Gilroy says: “Above anything, this is a show about regular people in a galaxy.”

“There are billions of beings out there in the galaxy all living their lives every day – and this is about titanic forces that are manipulating people’s lives and forcing them to make decisions.“

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