Four years ago, Academy Award-nominated writer/director Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton,” “The Bourne Legacy”) had an idea. It was two years after the release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”—a film Gilroy joined in the middle of making to assist and then came on board to write and direct major reshoots and then oversee the post-production process. Lucasfilm has been fielding ideas for a show based on the film’s protagonist Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna), but rather than a simple idea, Gilroy fired off a long, multi-page email slash in-depth bible that laid out the entirety of what the show could be. It was ambitious and expensive, perhaps the economics of streaming weren’t quite there yet, and the filmmaker signed off the email with something akin to, “but I’m not sure you want to make that show.”
Lucasfilm had already been talking to several contenders and had hired another showrunner (Stephen Schiff of FX’s “Americans”) to lead a Cassian Andor-led series—rumored to be more of a buddy series featuring the adventures of Andor and the Robot K-2SO— voiced and portrayed in motion capture by Alan Tudyk (hence Tudyk appearing at Star Wars Celebration in spring 2019, and even promoting the upcoming series, but not appearing in “Andor” season one).
The when and why is unclear, but somewhere along the lines, Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm, circled back to Tony Gilroy. That email, that long, in-depth tome; they wanted that.
The original, early plan was for Gilroy to direct alongside the season one filmmakers Toby Haynes, Susanna White, and Benjamin Caron, but COVID-19 hit, and that plan went awry. I spoke to Gilroy recently, and one of the first questions I asked the filmmaker was whether he would direct in season two. The answer was a quick no, but it became clear in the response that’s by design because the writing, showrunning, and overseeing of the entire series is “all-consuming.”
“[Season] two? I am not,” Gilroy said when asked if he would direct any episodes of “Andor” season two. “I am not.”
“No, how I was even going to— I mean, COVID kind of saved the show because I was so ignorant and naive about how difficult and how huge and what it was going to be,” he said, characteristically self-deprecating. “I mean, I had no clue, and if I had directed, I mean, it would’ve been—I don’t know what would’ve happened with the show. The job I have to do now is so all-consuming and so much more than that. It’s just not a good use of my time to be on a set at all. And the directors that we get, they come, they’re energized, they’re ambitious. And so, I can take it all the way down and do the whole thing, but they come in with a new [hunger] that you really need.”
“They come in with a little extra thing,” he continued about his A-team of directors. “And it’s very exciting to wake up— because my days are out of New York. It’ll be five o’clock in the morning; wake up, turn on dailies, and go, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t have shot it that way. That’s wow. Look what they did.’ Right? So, no, I’m not directing. No, I can’t. I want to come back and direct something else later on, but I can’t do it now. The job’s too big. I can’t; I can’t afford it, the time.”
Gilroy is already working on season two, and it will be shooting later this fall. Writers Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”), Beau Willimon (“House Of Cards”), and Tony himself will all return for season two. “The first time, we did a six-day writer’s room; this time, we did an eight-day writer’s room,” he explained. “I mean, I come in, I bring a big, a huge, you know, a hundred-page pile of meat and put it on the table, and then [laughs] we beat it out.”
Much more to come from this interview. “Andor” premieres on Disney+ on September 21.