The latest Disney+ Star Wars series, a prequel to Rogue One, explores the origin story of Cassian Andor

Every rebellion has its infancy, and the latest addition to the Star Wars universe takes on the burgeoning of the fight against the Empire—long before Luke Skywalker joined the fray. Specifically, Disney+ series Andor explores the origins of rebel hero Cassian Andor, the intelligence officer introduced on the big screen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   

The 12-episode series depicting the five years leading up to the events in Rogue One has Diego Luna returning to his role as the spy-turned-rebel who has been fighting in the rebellion since early childhood. During the making of the feature film, Luna created a past for his character, which to his surprise came in handy when preparing for the prequel series. “We started from scratch [on Andor] but I was always pretty amused by how close it was to what I had in mind,” he says. “The motivations of the character are really close to what we were discussing back then.” 

Andor’s gritty backstory is the brainchild of show creator Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote the 2016 feature film. “There are touchpoints in Rogue, little moments of truth of who they are,” says Gilroy. “The pieces that we had for Cassian were that he’d been in the revolution since he was six years old. At the end of the film, he says, ‘My God, if we don’t go out and make this final effort, then all the horrible things that I’ve done for the rebellion will be for naught.’ So we know there’s a very dark period. There were navigational points and I just started to build from those.” 

AndorDisney+Fans of the franchise will recall the emotionally dark place Andor starts from at the beginning of the film and they will likely not have forgotten the man’s ultimate destiny, which for Gilroy was not an issue. “You know what, we’re all living in a prequel,” says the writer with a laugh. “Also, you can watch a movie for the third time, and if you love it, you’re invested in it.”  

But knowing the series’ end point meant, for Gilroy, that there was a real responsibility in describing the sacrifices of war and creating a meaningful journey for Cassian Andor. “The story of revolution and what it really means is very complicated. It’s very interesting to delve into as a writer,” the creator explains. “And if we are successful with the 24 episodes that we make, a lot of scenes in Rogue are going to take a deeper significance and resonance.” 

AndorDisney+For Luna, understanding where his character is headed was the opposite of restrictive in terms of creativity. “I’m going to challenge everything you think about Cassian. I know where it ends, and I can be very creative about how to get there. I think it triggers a different part of your creativity, when you start backwards.”  

The Mexican actor also acknowledges that some of his favourite films are those that give audiences a new perspective on well-known stories. “There’s nothing I like more than going to see big shows about historical moments,” he says. “I know the end, and then I get to see what’s in between what I read. It challenges audiences in a very special way. Like, I’m going to tell you something you don’t know about what triggered that [event].” 

The first season of Andor, which premiered on September 21 with three episodes, will cover the span of one year before jumping forward in time for a second and final 12-part season of the series, which is currently in development. “We were looking at the difficulty of doing five years, which seemed like it would take us the next 30 years,” Gilroy reflects. “Then the answer elegantly presented itself: we’re going to take four blocks in the second half of the show—each block of three is going to represent another year. As a writer, it’s just fascinating. We really get to take the forging of Cassian Andor in the first 12 episodes and run it through the next four years in a really exciting, narrative fashion. In our last scene of the show, we’ll walk the audience directly into the first scenes of Rogue One.” 

But even if Andor has the expected dramatic scope, and the series leads into one of the darkest films of the franchise, Luna sees the show as an opportunity to really dig into intimate moments and matters that affect us all. “I love that this story is about regular people,” he says. “It’s about you and I. We’ll get to show you a community. It’s about what we are capable of if we understand that our strength is in our numbers.”  

Andor premieres Wednesday, September 28 on Disney+