In many ways, it’s not surprising that Tony Gilroy has taken on a Star Wars project of his own with upcoming series Andor – after all, he was majorly involved in Rogue One, the film from which this new adventure originates, and on which he’s credited as a co-writer. But elsewhere, he’s been less known for sci-fi adventures than scripting gritty political and legal thrillers like the original Bourne trilogy, and Michael Clayton (which he also directed). Admitting he has “no interest” in Star Wars generally (“I think that helped,” he tells Empire), he’s taking the origin story of Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor and using it as a means to tell a Tony Gilroy story in the galaxy far, far away – one delving into the political machinations of the Empire in full swing, and the desperate fight to bring it down.
The result is something with considerable contemporary resonance. “Tony has written a great, scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world,” says Fiona Shaw, who plays Maarva in the series. “Our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. [In the show] the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too.” Set in the five years running up to Rogue One, the series will expand upon Luna’s not exactly clean-cut hero (Cassian Andor began that film by shooting his own informant), and the efforts undertaken by the rising rebels to fight back against Palpatine’s regime. “I was impressed by Tony’s social-realist intentions,” Shaw continues. “He’s created a whole new morality. It’s very deep and humane – there is grief, mourning, hope, fear. It’s not just primary colours here.”
For Gilroy himself, the series continues in the tradition of the rest of his work. “Andor comes from the same place as everything else that’s come out of this office,” he tells Empire from his LA workspace. “Clayton, the Bournes, The Devil’s Advocate, now this… It’s all full-on drama.” The result is “insanely ambitious, dark and real”, according to Diego Luna, returning to the role he began back in 2016. “Even as Tony was pitching me, I was like, ‘This is amazing. You are sick.’” The battle for freedom begins here.