The Real Life Robbery That Inspired Andor's Big Heist Storyline

The first season of "Andor" has managed to be both a heist movie and a prison movie set in the ever-expanding "Star Wars" universe. While the show's latest arc has seen Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) tucked away as an inmate and worker in an Imperial factory (where he's kept up the trend of alliterative aliases by trading "Clem" for "Keef"), the whole reason Cassian landed there in the first place is that he was vacationing on a beach resort planet using his cut of the money from the heist of an Imperial sector's payroll. It may not sound like the kind of thing a young Joseph Stalin would do, but that's the real-world historical figure whose early life inspired the heist in "Andor," according to showrunner Tony Gilroy.

The build-up and execution of the heist played out in "Andor" episodes four through six, directed by Susanna White and scripted by Gilroy's younger brother, "Nightcrawler" filmmaker Dan Gilroy. However, it was the elder Gilroy who first got the idea for the heist while reading some historical non-fiction. He recently told Rolling Stone:

"There's an amazing book called 'Young Stalin' [by Simon Sebag Montefiore]. The opening chapter is this incredible [potential] movie sequence where Stalin is part of staging a major bank robbery in a Georgian town in 1907. It involves 15 people and hookers and teamsters and all these things. Stalin was Lenin's financier. He was a thief. And the reason Lenin loved him so much was he kept bringing the money. They needed money. This s*** all costs money. People gotta eat, they gotta get guns. You gotta get stuff."

'It takes coin'

Though Cassian has been known to wear what looks like a Russian fur hat on occasion, it might be disconcerting from some fans — especially given Russia's ongoing invasion in Ukraine — to hear the hero of a "Star Wars" show equated to a perpetrator of genocide like Stalin. Gilroy, though, simply used Russian history as a jumping-off point for a different kind of "Star Wars" story, one that would concern itself with practicalities the franchise hadn't much considered before, such as how the Rebels funded their endeavors.

"Almost no one ever pays attention to that part of it," Gilroy continued. "It's an underutilized area of storytelling. I'm always obsessed with what my characters make and where they're getting their money."

We've seen at least one other heist in live-action "Star Wars" already, with the train heist in "Solo: A Star Wars Story," having come just four years ago. As Cassian piloted the getaway ship in "Andor," attempting to outrun Imperial TIE fighters, he even channeled a bit of Han Solo. Yet in the "Solo" movie, the heist was strictly a criminal activity, carried out by proxy on behalf of the Crimson Dawn syndicate. In "Andor," it's meant to fund the rebellion, while the connection that Gilroy drew between Cassian and Stalin was more about the latter's history as a revolutionary before he became a dictator. Gilroy concluded:

"If you look at a picture of Young Stalin, isn't he glamorous? He looks like Diego! We're not doing [the] Stalin show. But, it's fascinating. All through every revolution, it's the same thing. It takes coin."

"Andor" is streaming on Disney+.