Tony Gilroy Talks The Importance Of Saw Gerrera, Luthen Rael & The “Original Gangsters & Maniacs” Of The Rebel Alliance


Luther Rael, played by Stellan Skarsgard, has a grandiose opening line in the third installment of the “War of stars” Spin-off prequel series “Andor.” “Cassian Andor,” he says, with a dramatic pause, “the Empire is suffocating us so slowly we’re beginning to forget it. What I’m asking is, wouldn’t you rather give anything for something real?”

Rael speaks of two things. He suggests that Andor (played by diego luna, Reprising his role from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘) join a nascent, unformed rebel alliance and eventually become the hero and spy we all know from Rogue One. But he also speaks of complacency and apathy, the very kind we face today as we sit idly by and watch our democracy crumble and our republic slowly sink into autocracy.

That might sound dramatic, but “Andor” is very much a show about tyranny and oppression, definitely influenced by the Trump years, but also by history. “Andor” debuted this week Disney+and we spoke to the creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy, twice Oscar nominated for screenplay and directing”Michael Clayton‘ and known for being the main writing architect behind it ‘bournes’ series (he also wrote and directed the spin-off “The Bourne Legacy“). Gilroy is also quite famous for coming on board to help the team on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. When Rogue One got a bit off the rails in early 2016 (the film arrived in December late that year), Gilroy was credited with saving the film after joining the project to write and direct major reshoots to guide and then oversee the post-production process to the final finish line.

As much as “Andor” is political in some ways, it’s also a “Star Wars” show, but one that puts a realistic lens on the despotic empire and what oppression and suffering mean for the rest of the galaxy.

“It’s no secret,” Gilroy said during the series’ press conference. “The show exists because there is a huge, arterial, important and passionate ‘Star Wars’ community.”

“It’s not a monolithic community,” he continued. “There’s a lot of different versions and factions in it, but there’s this huge dedicated ‘Star Wars’ community that shows. And that’s our whole map. That gave us the money and momentum and ability to make a show that’s so insanely big, so plentiful, and so difficult to make. That audience is our main concern and we want to give them something that has a totally different flavor than what they had before, but we’re doing it in a totally uncynical way.”

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Gilroy also seemed keenly aware that while there’s a rich, diverse audience for it, “Star Wars” fans tend to be boys and men. And to hear it from him, he’s trying to reach audiences that don’t think they’re interested in Star Wars.

“It’s no secret,” Gilroy said, again using his favorite phrase in reference to some members of the Star Wars community: “Your partner, your boss, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your mom, your dad. Lots of people affiliated with ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Wars’ averse [laughs]. and [they] should be able to see our show. Our show is designed so this could be your entry point to Star Wars. You could watch our 24 episodes; this could be your way

“We’re doing a show that doesn’t require any prior knowledge to participate,” he continued. “And our hope is – this is the gamble – can we satisfy, electrify and excite the dedicated fans? And at the same time, can we bring something that is emotionally intense and seems so real, and that is the smallest of domestic dramas and the smallest of interpersonal relationships that fall amidst the epic tectonic revolutionary historical moments when people have to make big decisions? Can we get another audience interested in it too? Can we marry these two things together? That’s the gamble. That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s why we’re here.”

During my interview with Gilroy, I asked about Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker), the fighter so radical and drastic that he is eventually kicked out of the Rebel Alliance, choosing instead to fight the Empire on its own terms with its own violent and extremist measures. Gerrera was a character first introduced in the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ as a then-budding dissident, and then played in live-action by Whitaker in ‘Rogue One’, and then retroactively into the narrative of ‘Star Wars rebels‘, an animated series set during the same period of “Andor.” Gerrera appears briefly in the trailer for Andor, I’m told he appears in an episode of season one and then has a slightly larger presence in season two.

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Gerrera is a character that fascinates me, but when asked if we’ll see more of him in season two, Gilroy instead gave a lengthy reply about what the show is really about: making a revolution, the structural and organizational difficulties of sustaining this revolt, the bad apples in it and all the eggs that have to be broken to make this omelette of the uprising work, so to speak.

“Yes. I mean, look, the show is very much – Stellan [Skarsgård] plays a character, Luthen [Rael] who has quietly built up a network, so to speak, and is a talent scout and binder and procurer for all these different things. And that’s the moment he’s going to get loud,” Gilroy said, explaining Luthen’s realization on the show that this is finally the moment to strike and connect all of the disparate cells and factions that are out there fighting and her to bring everyone together into what is later known as the Rebel Alliance.

“This is the time. He’s decided he can’t do it anymore [wait]; It’s time to go out,” he continued. “And the show really, especially season two, which we’re going to do over the next four years, the other 12 episodes we’re going to do, it’s really about what’s happening with — look, this revolution is made up of hundreds of different ones Groups and people and rebellions everywhere that are brewing and boiling and they don’t know each other and they are unaware.

Gilroy also suggested that for practical and personal reasons, the show will show how much more difficult building a Rebel alliance is than it sounds, despite everyone’s shared hatred of the Empire.

“And, and you watch Luthen try to put it together and Saw [Gerrera] is one of the people he deals with; there are other people he deals with,” Gilroy continued. “And you’ll watch the stress throughout the show of a) taking your company public and growing your business. It’s one thing running a small private business, suddenly if it’s one thing, all these problems, but b) what happens to the original gangsters then too? What happens to people who were really there at the beginning? Yavin IV ends up being a pretty established place. There’s not much room for all the original lunatics who started all this stuff. And that’s a really interesting thing for me, and it’s a really interesting thing for the show to deal with. And it fits the theme very well [well], with a lot of things we want to do with the characters. So that’s something we’re really exploring.”

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In the Star Wars lore as seen in Rogue One, Gerrera has already been ousted from the Alliance, too extremist in his methods, but they must broker a murderous peace to review the details of the Death Star’s plans.

“Saw is a lot, that’s the first place you look and you’re like, ‘Oh god, they should have had more.’ That’s a great character because he never comes into the tent. He doesn’t fit in the big tent. He’s too crazy.”

Gilroy also teased some of the drama and power struggles we’ll eventually see in Andor between Luthen and the various forces he’s trying to deal with Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), suggesting that the authors simply looked to revolutions in history for inspiration.

“Oh my god, just read about some revolution,” he explained. “But the one who has the most – I mean, forget the French Revolution or places where you have a whole bunch of really intellectual people with different ideas of how it should be [fought]. The Russian Revolution, the 30 years that has led to it, the amount of power struggles and the number of groups and the amount of people who end up hating themselves more than the Tsar and the difficulty they have organizing and what Lenin does to pull them together or shape them up, all that. I mean, that’s just fascinating. We’ll do all of that. We have to do it.”

Andor and its three-episode premiere will stream on Disney+. The 12-episode series will then debut with a new episode each week until the November 23 finale.





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