Deconstructing Cassian: The Making of “Andor” on Disney+

“The pieces that we had for Cassian were that he'd been in the revolution since he was six years old,” Andor series creator, showrunner, and executive producer Tony Gilroy said of the Rogue One prequel during a TCA press conference for Lucasfilm’s latest Disney+ original series from the Star Wars universe. Set five years before the events of Rogue One, the team started with what they knew about this show’s main character. “We know that at the end of the film, he says, my God, if we don't go out and make this final effort, then all of the things that I've done, all the horrible things that I've done for the rebellion, they'll be for naught. It'll be useless. So we know there's a very dark period. We've seen his behavior all the way through. There were little, tiny navigational points. And I just started to build from those.”

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

It’s been almost 6 years since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story revealed how the plans to the Death Star ended up in the possession of Princess Leia. Time has marched on for series star and executive producer Diego Luna, who now finds himself playing a character a decade younger than he is. “Everything I thought of when I was doing Rogue One, it was just part of what an actor has to do,” Diego revealed about the backstory he created for Cassian to fill in the script’s blanks. “The motivations of the character are really close to what I had in mind and what we were discussing back then.”

If you’ve seen the poster, then you know there are a lot of characters in the series, despite its singular title. “It's quite unfair to call the show Andor because this is about a community,” expressed the show’s star about it’s biggest theme. “It's an ensemble. It's what we can do in a community and what we are capable of if we understand our strength is in our numbers. This show is about that.”

With 211 speaking parts, the scope of Andor was so big that it couldn’t fit within the limitations of the volume technology that has become essential to production on The Mandalorian. “Our show is just on a massively epic scale, and people would be running off the set all the time,” Tony Gilroy explained after singing the praises of the technology. “You kind of have to make a decision in a way to be a volume show or a non-volume show. We haven't reached the stage yet where the workflow is easy and the economics are easy. You can't jump back and forth. Believe me, there's some things we wish we could've done on the volume, and they might've been simpler. But our show is wide. It's huge.”

When the project was officially announced at Star Wars Celebration 2019, Alan Tudyk took the stage with Diego Luna to share that K-2SO would be part of the show. However, fans shouldn’t expect to see the modified KX security droid in this first season. “We're starting him so far away from a person that would know how or be motivated to reprogram an imperial droid,” Tony Gilroy said. “That is a very distant concept for the cast in Andor we're introducing in our first season.”

While the series will span 2 seasons of 12 episodes, this first one only covers a single year. “We are going to do another twelve episodes starting in November, and our organizing principle for our shooting is that directors come in for blocks of three,” Tony shared. To give each year its own season would’ve been a monumental undertaking and a tough commitment. “The answer just elegantly presented itself in front of us, we’re going to take our four blocks of three in the second half of the show, and each block of three is going to represent another year closer… We get to take the formative forging of Cassian Andor in the first twelve episodes, and then we get to take that organism that we built up and we get to run it through the next four years in a really exciting, narrative fashion. The last scene of the show, our 24th episode, we’ll walk the audience directly into the first scenes of Rogue One.”

It sounds like an exciting ride, and one that should enhance the emotional weight of Rogue One: A Star Wars story the next time you see it. “I’m going to challenge everything you think about Cassian,” Diego Luna promised. “I know where it ends, and I can be very creative about how to get there. It triggers a different part of your creativity when you start backwards.”

The first three episodes of Andor are now streaming on Disney+.

Sign up for Disney+ or the Disney Streaming Bundle (Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu) now
Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).