How Andor Creator Tony Gilroy Kept His Crew's Star Wars Fandom In Check On Set

In a franchise that's experiencing an extreme identity crisis between the old and new, "Andor" is the freshest "Star Wars" has felt in a very long time. Its entire attitude as a series has been unconcerned with filling the time with tie-ins and cameos and instead focused on telling a nuanced story about the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance and a character study into how Cassian Andor (the wonderful Diego Luna) became the hardened renegade we meet in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

Even though creator Tony Gilroy was put to the task of spinning off one of the more beloved Disney era "Star Wars" projects into a full series, he's made incredible use of his bargained creative freedom. Gilroy is careful to avoid simple regurgitations of the recognizable images of the series' past, steering "Andor" to darker and more morally ambiguous places. Ultimately the greatest boon Gilroy has as a new voice in "Star Wars" is his lack of "Star Wars" fan loyalty. He's been approaching "Andor" as a show of his own first and a "Star Wars" project second, keeping the series rooted in a great amount of emotional honesty.

While Gilroy himself might not be too big of a fan of space wizards and laser swords, we'd imagine it would be hard for some of the actors and crew to step into these elaborate, fantastical sets and not get swept away. According to a Hollywood Reporter interview with episode 8 director Toby Haynes, Gilroy made sure to specifically instruct his cast and crew to put aside their nostalgia in service for the show's vision.

Gilroy puts the Star Wars trademarks in the background

"Yeah, [Tony Gilroy] was nervous about how much I love Star Wars, but I always say that I'm a dramatist first and a Star Wars fan second," Haynes said. "So what comes first for me is the story and the characters and what we're trying to do."

Many emerging filmmakers who were inspired by George Lucas' original trilogy yearn for the chance to replicate the same emotions as watching the cantina scene in the original "Star Wars" for the first time — fully immersing the viewer in a setting, indulgently showing off every alien prosthetic and otherworldly detail in the background. As wonderful as those moments are, they just simply wouldn't work with "Andor" and its serious, grounded tone. Thankfully, Gilroy had like-minded collaborators in this regard:

"When you see your first droid on set, you do get really excited about it, and you have to make a concerted effort to make sure it stays in the background. Tony was very clear about that. He never wanted to foreground the monsters. He never wanted to foreground the droids. He wanted it to be part of the fabric of the piece, but not do a special shot where you're announcing a new alien or something like that. He really wanted it to feel completely integrated in the world that he was presenting and not presented [in and of itself]."

Andor's greatest strength is consistency

It must take great, admirable restraint to ultimately sign up for a "Star Wars" project where those kinds of nostalgic impulses are discouraged. Most of "Andor" episode 8 takes place in an Imperial prison. Normally a "Star Wars" project would have the need to gawk at the alien and unfamiliar details that makes a "space prison," but Haynes understood that there's no need to glorify or romanticize this setting; it's a place of direct Imperial oppression.

Thanks to Gilroy's vision, "Andor" continues to impressively stay consistent, especially as a Disney+ original series. Most of these "Star Wars" Disney+ shows offer a hook that's interesting or compelling, and then do a surprise hard turn after the first few episodes.

"The Mandalorian" promised to show us a "Star Wars" beyond the Skywalkers, only to loop back to that story by the end. "The Book of Boba Fett" pitched itself as a Tatooine western, only to become a "Mandalorian" middle chapter series by the end of it. "Andor" is heading into the final lap as the 12 episode first season wraps up in a few weeks, but the show hasn't exactly disappointed yet, so we can remain optimistic for now.

New episodes of "Andor" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.