How Andor Will Actually Explore The Title Character

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" had quite the rocky start six years ago. With a troubled production and extensive reshoots that fundamentally changed the structure of the film, it could have been a very different "Star Wars" story. But the story that did emerge from all that chaos eventually became a critical and commercial success. And to this day, "Rogue One" has a loyal fanbase. The characters it introduced are beloved in some circles, despite the fact that so little is actually known about them. And though they all technically have spin-off potential, Diego Luna's callous, calculated Rebel spy arguably had the most interesting (and feasible) story to tell.

Cassian Andor was one of the biggest enigmas in "Rogue One." He wasn't the first world-weary revolutionary introduced to the "Star Wars" universe, but through Cassian, "Rogue One" was able to confront the inherent messiness in the Rebellion's war against the Empire for the first time. It wasn't a black and white battle by any means, and Cassian's muddied morals were the perfect way to articulate that. But how exactly did Cassian reach that point? When did his work with the Rebellion begin, and how did he reconcile all those terrible things he did for the cause? 

Fans have wrestled with these questions for years. And before "Andor," the latest series to explore a new chapter of "Star Wars" history, so did Luna himself.

Cassian's dark past

"Star Wars" has always been a product of its era. The original trilogy took inspiration from the Vietnam War, and the prequels paralleled the War on Terror to similar affect. "Andor" is a much grittier extension of George Lucas' original vision, but it wears its influences on its sleeve all the same. It's already drawn comparisons to our current "Trumpian" dystopia, and it's one of the things that excited Luna the most about returning to the world. "This story matters today, in the world we live in," Luna explained at a press conference attended by /Film. "Otherwise I wouldn't care."

The themes of rebellion in decidedly hopeless times couldn't be more relevant today, but Luna was also excited about exploring Cassian's story more thoroughly. The actor and executive producer understood that "Rogue One" wasn't necessarily the place to tell that story, as it was less about its characters than "the event" they all participated in. "You don't get to understand exactly where they come from," Luna continued, "[or] what needed to happen" to bring the events of "Rogue One" into place. But the script definitely left a lot to the imagination:

"[Cassian] says stuff that haunts me in 'Rogue One': that he started the fight when he was six years old. What does that mean, exactly, you know? Why a six year old would miss his childhood and start a fight. That, to me, is really interesting to know. He talks about a dark past, he talks about doing terrible stuff for the Rebellion — what is he referring to? I think that story matters, that story is interesting, and there's a lot of material there for us to play, so I was really excited to be able to go into a journey and give those answers."

'How far can we find Cassian?'

In order to find the answers to Cassian's backstory, "Andor" had to start from the very beginning: From the character's early days on his home planet to his radicalization on an entirely different world. Luna has described "Andor" as "the journey of a migrant," as Cassian witnesses the annexation of his home early in the series, and it informs a massive aspect of his character:

"I always thought of him as a character that has been forced to move. Therefore, he brings a pain that he's carrying that is making him very cynical about life."

Cassian's journey in "Andor" will take him from self-interested cynic to the rebel who doesn't hesitate to lay down his life for the cause in just five years' time. It's not a transition anyone is taking likely — least of all Luna, who wanted to place Cassian as far away from his headspace in "Rogue One" as possible:

"How far can someone be from learning [that] he could be a tool of change? How far can you be from that, and still find your way into acknowledging that you are capable of big stuff? ... It was like, 'How far can we find Cassian?' I wish you see the guy in the first episode and you don't see any possibility of that happening. Exploring that person, and then finding a way to get the clarity of someone that suddenly starts believing ... that goes through a process of acknowledging that articulating something in community can give you enough strength to be useful, and to bring change ... I thought that story matters too much; it's a story I would like to tell to my kids, to my friends. It's a story I would like to see as [an] audience."

"Andor" premieres on September 21, 2022, on Disney+.