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Andor: The Untold Truth Of The Star Wars Show

For years, live-action "Star Wars" TV programming was defined by oddball entries like the "Star Wars Holiday Special." The franchise has an extensive history of animated series on the small screen, but live-action adventures in this universe were generally limited to big-screen outings. That all changed with "The Mandalorian," which shifted the entire direction of this franchise by proving that it wasn't just possible to make a live-action "Star Wars" TV show, but demonstrating that such a property could become a pop culture phenomenon. In the wake of this success, a slew of other "Star Wars" programs have been announced for release on Disney+, including ones based on beloved characters like Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also getting his own show is Cassian Andor, the spy played by Diego Luna in the 2016 movie "Rogue One."

Though Andor bit the dust at the end of "Rogue One," that's not the end of his time in this multimedia franchise. "Andor" is a prequel TV show delving into what this guy's life was like before he went off on a fateful mission with Jyn Erso and company. Here we take a look at how this particular production isn't just a run-of-the-mill "Star Wars" prequel. Between the wide array of artists working on the show to the specific creative ambitions informing the project, "Andor" is shaping up to be an exciting addition to the "Star Wars" universe. Here is the untold truth of "Andor."

Encanto director Jared Bush originally developed Andor

Jared Bush's big first foray into Disney entertainment came through co-creating the Disney XD cartoon "Penn Zero: Part Time Hero." While that show didn't exactly become a household name, Bush would get a much bigger gig for his next Disney project by serving as a co-director on "Zootopia." He would later reunite with "Zootopia" helmer Byron Howard on the 2021 animated feature "Encanto," with Bush upgraded to a director on this project.

Bush's Disney exploits have primarily revolved around entirely-animated projects, but he also had a hand in a live-action production from another branch of the studio. When Deadline first reported on "Andor" in November 2018, it was revealed that Jared Bush had pitched the idea for a TV show based on the Cassian Andor character. Though Lucasfilm opted to pursue the project, Stephen Schiff was then hired to serve as showrunner on the proceedings while Bush had no further involvement on "Andor." It's unknown why Bush ended up having a minimal creative presence on "Andor," though his busy schedule directing "Encanto" and leadership position at Walt Disney Animation Studios could have been a factor.

The original showrunner for Andor

The modern era of "Star Wars" projects is no stranger to sudden changes in creative leadership. The most infamous example of this trend is Phil Lord and Chris Miller getting jettisoned from "Solo: A Star Wars Story" midway through filming before getting replaced by Ron Howard. Other people once in charge of "Star Wars" productions that got let go include Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow. Even "Rogue One" saw Tony Gilroy step in to supervise reshoots and provide extensive rewrites for this portion of the production.

"Andor" has been no exception to this phenomenon. Initially, Deadline reported that Stephen Schiff was set to serve as a showrunner for the project. Later on, Variety revealed that Gilroy would be joining this production in a key creative capacity, though Schiff would remain the primary creative head of "Andor." However, in April 2020, a significant change occurred when Schiff was let go in the middle of pre-production, with The Hollywood Reporter noting that Gilroy was taking over his duties as showrunner. Disney gave no reason for Schiff's departure, however, he's far from the first person to exit a critical creative position in the modern age of "Star Wars" media.

Tony Gilroy was set to direct multiple Andor episodes

Tony Gilroy can't seem to escape the pull of "Rogue One." His first brush with this corner of the "Star Wars" universe came when he worked as a writer and on-set presence during the lengthy reshoots for "Rogue One." For years, it seemed like that was it for Gilroy's participation in the "Star Wars" franchise, but then The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in 2020 that he would be operating as showrunner and director of individual episodes for "Andor."

It was a big move that suggested "Andor" was looking to maintain some behind-the-scenes creative ties with "Rogue One." However, months later, Deadline announced that Gilroy would no longer be able to direct installments of "Andor." This was not a reflection of Gilroy abandoning the project. Instead, he was forced to step down from these obligations due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Unable to travel from New York to the United Kingdom filming locations for "Andor," Gilroy had to pass on directing duties to Toby Haynes. However, Gilroy remains an integral part of the "Andor" creative team, a reflection of how deeply intertwined this artist has become with the world of "Rogue One."

The visual approach to designing Andor's aliens

Aliens are as integral to "Star Wars" as anything. You can get a lot of things not quite right in this franchise, but aliens? That's one of those things that, if you mess up, it's hard to properly course-correct the rest of the production. Some of the most iconic sequences in this franchise have been built upon audiences just gawking at the wide assortment of aliens that exist in this fictional universe. Considering this, it's no surprise that lots of thought went into realizing the aliens for "Andor."

In a Fanisded interview with artist Neal Scanlan, who has been in charge of many of the creature effects for modern "Star Wars" movies and TV shows, he revealed that "Andor" was modeling its aliens off the ones seen in "Rogue One." Specifically, they were adhering to that film's darker edge and using those aesthetics to guide the shape of the otherworldly creatures. He also commented that the participation of Tony Gilroy, a critical voice in the making of "Rogue One," helped ensure there would be a level of visual continuity between that 2016 "Star Wars" film and "Andor." With these factors in place, Scanlan was off to the races to make the next "Star Wars" aliens that could captive audiences worldwide.

Alan Tudyk was once set to star in Andor

When "Andor" was initially announced, IGN reported that one of the main cast members would be Alan Tudyk, who was set to reprise his "Rogue One" role of robot K-2SO. This was an expected casting decision considering that this mechanical character was Cassian Andor's primary companion in "Rogue One." As such, it was only natural to bring this figure back when it came time to do an "Andor" prequel. In January 2020, Tudyk shared his excitement with Far Far Away News about the prospect of working with Diego Luna again and said that he was especially stoked about "Andor" after seeing Season 1 of "The Mandalorian." With all the possibilities of small-screen "Star Wars" storytelling made apparent to him, Tudyk couldn't wait to portray K-2SO again.

Unfortunately, all that enthusiasm wasn't enough to guarantee Tudyk's presence on "Andor." A few months into principal photography on "Andor" in January 2021, Tudyk told Collider he was no longer starring in "Andor." Subsequent rewrites between when his casting was announced and when "Andor" actually began filming resulted in K-2SO getting written out of the show. However, all hope is not lost for die-hard fans of this droid. Tudyk noted he could come back into the "Andor" fold in future seasons of the show. After all, if one is doing a TV program about the origins of Cassian Andor, it only makes sense that it would eventually show how Andor met Tudyk's pessimistic droid.

Stellan Skarsgard's hopes for Andor

Stellan Skarsgård has already done plenty of challenging arthouse fare under the direction of filmmakers ranging from David Fincher to Lars Von Trier. However, he's no stranger to genre material, as seen by his villainous turn in "Dune" and his recurring role as Erik Selvig in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Skarsgård's exploits in mainstream genre material got taken to the next level, though, when he accepted a principal role on the TV show "Andor."

Speaking to The Daily Beast, Skarsgård said that, thanks to how many kids he's had, he is extremely familiar with "Star Wars" and is especially aware of the "Star Wars" toys his youngsters played with. When Skarsgård saw "Rogue One," though he was shocked to discover something new and more tangible in a franchise he thought he knew like the back of his hand.  Attracted to that quality, he was intrigued by the thought of doing a project like "Andor" that was connected to "Rogue One," especially since Tony Gilroy, who was heavily involved in bringing "Rogue One" to life, would also be a key creative voice on "Andor." Through embracing the tone of that 2016 "Star Wars" movie, Skarsgård was hopeful that "Andor" could register as something more than "little plastic people falling over." Plus, even if it didn't live up to his expectations, "Andor" would surely produce new action figures his kids would go wild for.

What excites Diego Luna about Andor

In his time as an actor, Diego Luna has been a part of many projects that any artist would be excited to be a part of. These have included arthouse hits like "Y Tu Mamá También" as well as beloved children's movies like "The Book of Life." Of course, "Star Wars" is a whole other ballpark in terms of its pop culture presence. Therefore, it's no surprise that Luna has a particularly deep affinity for his "Star Wars" character Cassian Andor and is especially excited for the opportunity to headline his own solo Disney+ TV show.

While talking during an interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Luna delved into what attracted him to "Andor" and revealed that he loved the idea of digging deeper into a character whose fate was sealed. Cassian Andor perished at the end of "Rogue One," but having that final destination in mind intrigued Luna and made him want to do a prequel, like "Andor," that explored the nitty-gritty details of who this guy was. For Luna, exploring the earlier years of Cassian Andor wasn't about adding new layers to the characters ending, "it's about delaying that." With these qualities in mind, it's no wonder Luna has an extra level of enthusiasm surrounding his work on "Andor."

Adria Arjona's experience getting cast in Andor

Getting cast in a "Star Wars" project is a daunting task. Much of the franchise's history has been defined by taking lesser-known performers like Mark Hamill or John Boyega and rocketing them to stardom through these cosmic adventure films. "Andor" continues this casting trend in hiring Adria Arjona as the project's female lead. Though she's appeared in supporting roles in films like "6 Underground" and "Sweet Girl," "Andor" is by far her most high-profile gig to date.

Talking to Flaunt Magazine about the role, Arjona, while keeping details on the part under wraps, noted that she sent in a tape to audition for the character at the start of 2020 and, after a successful audition, was promptly offered the role. "[I was] just a big ball of emotions," Arjona said to the magazine over her response to this development. "It's such a complex and beautiful and creative world that I've just been dying to be a part of for so long. I've gone up for every 'Star Wars' [role] you could think of. I was waiting for the perfect one: I really believe this is the one." With all this excitement and a gung-ho attitude, it's clear that Arjona is ready for the lengthy commitment it takes to star in a "Star Wars" project.

When Andor was originally supposed to start filming

"Andor" has had several false starts on its road to becoming a reality. When it was first announced at the end of 2018, Variety reported that initial plans called for it to begin principal photography at the end of 2019. That tight turnaround time was later adjusted to allow "Andor" time to start filming in June 2020, via Discussing Film. According to special effects artists Neal Scanlon, who spoke about the project in an interview with Fansided, "Andor" did multiple weeks of pre-production at the start of 2020 to prepare for the later start date. This would've initially allowed "Andor" to be the second "Star Wars" show to premiere on Disney+, following "The Mandalorian."

However, the COVID-19 health crisis promptly put those ambitions on ice, via Variety. Like all major productions in 2020, "Andor's" fate was contingent on every little development in the unprecedented global health crisis. From there, the start date of "Andor" remained nebulous, but thankfully, for all the creative participants involved, uncertainty wouldn't linger over the head of this program forever. Eventually, cameras finally began to roll on this Disney+ program. The first season of "Andor" started shooting in November 2020, kicking off a ten-month-long shoot that was initially supposed to happen a whole year earlier, via Deadline. Though delays can be frustrating for fans, in this case, it's a welcome sight to see that the "Andor" crew put safety over rushing this show in front of cameras.

The surprise return of Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker made his "Star Wars" debut as Saw Gerrera in "Rogue One." Since the character perishes midway through the movie, it wasn't a substantial role in terms of screentime. Whitaker has proven to be an enduring part of the "Star Wars" franchise since then. Not only did he reprise the role in the animated TV show "Star Wars: Rebels," but he also provided voice work and his likeness for Gerrera in the video game "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order." Even if his initial appearance wasn't extensive, Whitaker has proven to be resilient in modern "Star Wars" media.

Whitaker also reprises the role of Saw Gerrera in a live-action "Star Wars" project, "Andor." Though not initially revealed to be part of the show when Disney announced the cast of "Andor," Stellan Skarsgard casually revealed in an interview on a Swedish radio program that he had filmed scenes with Whitaker on the set of "Andor," per Games Radar. Though meant to be a surprise, it's not shocking that Whitaker's Gerrera found his way into the world of "Andor." After all, Gerrera is depicted in "Rogue One" as a leading figure of the rebellion, a force the titular lead of "Andor" is a part of. It only makes sense that their paths could've crossed long before the events of this TV program.

The directors of Andor

Once Tony Gilroy was no longer in a position to direct episodes of "Andor," Toby Haynes stepped in to shoot the series premiere and additional installments of Season 1. However, one person could not handle helming all 12 episodes of "Andor's" first season, and additional filmmakers would need to be brought in and shepherd other episodes. A few months into principal photography of this season, news broke that revealed two of the directors that would be a part of "Andor."

Discussing Film revealed that Ben Caron and Susanna White would be directing individual episodes of "Andor." For both of these filmmakers, it would be their first foray into directing projects within the "Star Wars" universe. However, they have plenty of individual experience tackling episodes of major TV shows. Caron, for his part, has directed multiple episodes of "The Crown" while White has helmed episodes of a wide range of TV shows, including "Boardwalk Empire" and "Billions." It's still unclear, however, if Haynes, Caron, and White are the only directors helming Season 1 episodes of "Andor" or if additional filmmakers are also working on the project. It's also unknown if anyone involved in directing episodes for prior "Star Wars" shows will be participating on "Andor." Early rumors indicated "The Mandalorian" director Rick Fumiyama would be in charge of "Andor" episodes, but those have not been confirmed.

Andor was meant to feel cinematic

In the past, TV shows based on movies were often expected to look considerably cheaper than their big-screen counterparts. After all, it's much more convenient to watch a TV show on your couch, but in exchange, what you're going to watch will be smaller in scale and made on a significantly more modest budget. For decades, these have been the financial norms of these two modes of artistic expression. Even George Lucas found it difficult to challenge television budgets when he was trying to get "Star Wars: Underworld," as he explained to E! in 2008.

However, the "Star Wars" TV shows on Disney+ have helped upend this standard, and "Andor" is no exception. When being interviewed about the show, Diego Luna told The Hollywood Reporter that "Andor" had been designed from the ground up to feel cinematic, with this quality being especially apparent in the show's sets and aliens. Once upon a time, those elements would've been greatly sacrificed to fit into a TV show and Luna's comments would've sounded like empty hyperbole. But "Andor" was following the footsteps of programs like "The Mandalorian," which The Washington Post reported cost $15 million price tag per episode while even non-"Star Wars" shows like "Jupiter's Legacy" can rack up massive $200 million budgets for an entire season of programming. However, thanks to the financial freedom of streaming television, "Andor," like other streaming "Star Wars" programs, has been able to reach for its cinema-quality aspirations.