Three episodes into its first season, Andor feels like the breath of fresh air that Star Wars fans have been waiting for. Although some viewers are still hung up on not hearing the name “Skywalker” every two minutes, avoiding fan service was the only way to secure the involvement of Tony Gilroy, the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker who previously worked on the script for Rogue One. Surprisingly, Gilroy was a Star Wars novice when he lent his narrative expertise to Lucasfilm’s critically-acclaimed anthology film. And while speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Gilroy discussed why it was important to approach Cassian Andor’s origin story with the same amount of distance. Tony Gilroy says.
Many of the Star Wars projects made during the Disney era have been criticized for leaning too heavily on pre-existing story and character threads. But Andor has been widely praised across the board for taking a sledgehammer to this tradition and delivering what might be the first “adult” Star Wars entry in the 45-year history of the franchise. As Gilroy sees it, “reverence” for the source material is confining, and doesn’t leave much room for innovation. That’s why he had to advise his collaborators to loosen up during production.
“In every department, we’ve had all kinds of people come in, and they know it’s Star Wars, so they change their behavior,” explained Gilroy. “They change their attitude. They change their thing. An actor will come in off a Ken Loach movie or something, they’ll put on a Star Wars [costume], and all of a sudden, this great actor, who auditioned for you and didn’t know what it really was, starts acting differently. And you go, ‘Wait, no. Do your thing. You’re here because we want you to be real.’ So it’s a testament to the potent power of Star Wars. It really gets into people’s heads, but to change the lane and do it this way, it takes a little effort. It’s interesting.”
Gilroy wasn’t Lucasfilm’s original choice to spearhead Andor. Before he took over as showrunner in 2020, the series went through “a couple different versions,” including one conceptualized by Stephen Schiff, who is still credited as a writer on episode 7. But according to Gilroy, nostalgia is precisely what boxed in many of the previous creative teams. It also prompted Lucasfilm to briefly put the series on hold. So when studio president Kathleen Kennedy asked for his thoughts, Gilroy laid out a grand plan that would ultimately push the boundaries of Star Wars storytelling. However, they didn’t say “yes” to his ideas right away.
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“I wrote this big manifesto for her,” said Gilroy. “‘This is what your show should be like. This is what you should never do. This is why this doesn’t work.’ So it was a crazy thing, and it was wildly ambitious. And they were like, ‘Well, that’s really great. Thanks for helping us know what’s wrong, but we could never do this.’ Then they tried a couple other things, and when everything had gone cold, there was a moment where, my God, streaming was whoa. Now we can really do it.”
The fourth episode of Andor will premiere next Wednesday, September 28 on Disney+.
What are your thoughts on Gilroy’s approach to the Star Wars mythos? Let us know in the comment section below!
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