Meet Andor's Syril Karn, A Star Wars Villain Unlike Any Other We've Seen Before [Exclusive]

Throughout each episode of "Andor" to this point, the Tony Gilroy-created series has taken pains to set itself apart from the previous installments of Disney-owned "Star Wars" that have come before. As established in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," the protagonist Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is far different than any other Rebel we've yet seen. The central story unfolds in a way that puts story and character first — not Easter eggs, cross-pollinating cameos, and other types of fan-service. And in terms of villains, there might not be a single other figure in canon who can rival the terrifying, methodical, and relentless fanaticism of Syril Karn.

Portrayed brilliantly (and chillingly) by the always thoughtful actor Kyle Soller, Syril has undergone an oddly compelling arc from a jumped-up security goon to a pathetic wretch quietly enduring his mother's icy disapproval to an obsessive true believer in the Empire's authoritarian cause. By channeling his feelings of unfinished business with Cassian into a single-minded focus to advance the Imperial agenda at all costs, Syril stands out as a force to be reckoned with in the remaining episodes. Most importantly, the character represents one key reason why "Andor" works as well as it does.

Lucasfilm appears to agree, as /Film can exclusively debut a character-themed featurette that's all about Syril, what motivates him, why he needed to embark on this distinctive path, and what the story may hold for him next. Check it out below!

'It's the strength of his commitment and his vision'

Maybe don't expect any Syril Karn toys to be flying off the toy shelves this holiday season, but that's no indication of just how much of a creative breath of fresh air this character has provided for "Andor." As described in the featurette, this villain might seem unassuming and forgettable at first glance. But his singular drive to maintain law and order — no matter what lengths it takes — makes him one of the most formidable characters in the entire series.

Introduced as a self-important Deputy Inspector for the Preox-Morlana corporate security outfit, Karn quickly develops a disproportionate interest in Cassian Andor's murder of two Pre-Mor employees in the opening episode and ultimately makes the mistake of allowing his reckless obsession to blow up in his face. When the arrest attempt on Ferrix goes horribly awry, he returns home in disgrace to the dysfunctional apartment of his mother Eedy (Kathryn Hunter) with no job and his tail between his legs. As Soller explains in the above clip, "Syril wants to be of great service to the Empire, and he thinks that there is no aggression too extreme." Down but not out, it's only at this low point that he's able to "figure out who he really is," according to the actor.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Syril picks himself up, dusts himself off ... and promptly doubles down on acting like a total creep. Inadvertently given the attention he craves, Karn's disturbing fixation sets its sights on the no-nonsense Imperial officer Dedra Meero (Denise Gough). Not only is this fawning devotion a brand-new shading given to a franchise villain, but it reinforces the show's entire message — that fascism takes root in casually malignant ways.

Method to the madness

Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine ... and Syril Karn? It's probably a little too soon to say where this mousy "Andor" villain ranks among the likes of previous antagonists in the pantheon of "Star Wars," but it's abundantly clear that the vengeful Karn is unlike anyone else we've ever encountered in this franchise.

Fans likely didn't expect to follow such an unpredictable character throughout several episodes of this prequel series, especially one who reflects all the most loathsome qualities you could possibly stomach in a television villain, but that's the true genius of his role in "Andor." While his exact role in the early going may have been somewhat hard to pin down, especially compared to the likes of more traditional bad guys like Lieutenant Meero or her superior Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser), Gilroy and his writing team have carefully constructed an antagonist who sums up everything "Andor" is trying to convey about rebelling against oppression.

From Syril's feverish quest to hunt down Cassian (which comes loaded with subtext, given the very intentional creative choice to cast Soller against Luna) to the radicalization he allows to fester during quiet moments at home to his inability to figure out the line between ambition and obsession, every laser-focused detail making up this character's personality paints a complete picture of a brutally relevant villain. "Andor" is quickly barreling towards its season 1 finale, with featurettes like the one above only adding to our enthusiasm for such an odd but well-rounded figure. We can't wait to see how the dastardly Syril Karn factors into the final stretch of the story.