Tony Gilroy didn’t always know he was going to tell Cassian Andor’s story the way we’ve gotten it on Andor. But once Gilroy, who co-wrote Rogue One, had the idea to flesh out the character’s story, it was very obvious that there was a lot there to pull from. Remezcla had a chance to talk to Gilroy about the collaborative process with Diego Luna, who plays the titular character, how he built Cassian Andor up, and his thought process in regard to bringing in legacy Star Wars characters.
For Gilroy, it all starts with characters. And though he shared that, during the filming of Rogue One, “Diego and I never had a conversation about the details,” of Cassian Andor’s backstory, there was still enough in that script to “build the character out for real.” And that starts “from trying to hold a string and tell a story,” he told us, adding that “you hope that the other stuff accumulates along the way.”
Some of that other stuff that Gilroy was lucky to count on, was the tremendous cast of Andor. “We started casting the show, and the actors were so good. It’s really like being a musician. You’re a piano player and you’re playing on a funky, upright piano in the basement and it’s out of tune. And then all of a sudden someone says, hey, here’s a grand piano that’s perfectly in tune.” For Gilroy, that of course started with Luna, who plays Cassian with the right combination of vulnerability and confidence, but was reinforced by every other actor.
“I plot through dialogue,” Gilroy shared. “I don’t sit down and say, oh, what should happen next? I actually put people in a place, and then I play around with what they say, and then I try to find out if that works.”
That whole process will get more complicated as Andor now moves into Season 2, especially as there’s a clear ending in sight: Rogue One. Despite the clear ending, Gilroy told us that there was no intent to bring legacy characters in just for cameos, or as a special surprise for fans. “We’ll never go with anybody for the sake of that. It will always be on how they impact on our story, or how our characters interact with them. That’s our criteria for bringing in the legacy characters.”
But, though Gilroy wouldn’t reveal which legacy characters are coming, he did promise some familiar faces would show up in Season 2, even as the show would continue to focus on fleshing out the Cassian Andor people now know and taking him to the place we saw in Rogue One, the person we first met, the one Diego Luna made us fall in love with.
“If I had any agenda at all, it was: Oh, my God. The guy in Rogue One is just perfect. He’s a leader, and he’s complicated enough to make all kinds of interesting decisions and change his mind, and he’s the one they trust to do all this. And he’s a soldier, and he’s brave, and he can fly the ship. He can do everything, and then… he sacrifices his life for the entire galaxy.”
Not the story anyone was expecting. And if anything, Andor is not really the beginning people really foresaw for that character. Gilroy, however, had a clear explanation for the journey, referring to the guy he just described as “a pretty complete, perfect person.”
So, storytelling-wise, the question for Gilroy was “How far [away from that] could I take him in five years? How big of an asshole could I make him at the beginning of this show? And how big of a hole could I put him in so that he can climb out? That’s what’s interesting to me. It’s more than a reluctant hero. It’s almost an impossible hero, you know?”
We know. And we also know how it ends. It’s a testament to both Diego Luna and Tony Gilroy that, despite that, we’re still watching.
The entire first season of Andor is now available to stream on Disney+.