Tony Gilroy Discusses Taking ‘Star Wars’ Seriously, The Original 5-Year-Plan, & Where ‘Andor’ Is All Headed [The Rogue Ones Podcast Interview]

The Rogue Ones: A Star Wars Andor Podcast’ returns with hosts Mike DeAngelo and The Playlist’s Editor-In-Chief, Rodrigo Perez. As with the previous episodes, each week, our hosts will recap and review the latest “Andor” episode and welcome cast members and creatives from the show to discuss all things “Andor” and maybe a few other “Star Wars” properties.

READ MORE: ‘Andor’ Review: Tony Gilroy Doubles Down On ‘Rogue One & ‘Star Wars’ For Adults In Engaginghriller About Tyranny

In the second episode of The Rogue Ones, our hosts break down their thoughts on episode four that dropped on Disney+ this week. After the discussion, writer/showrunner/“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” rewriter/fixer Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton,The Bourne Legacy”) joins the podcast to discuss returning to a galaxy far, far away, taking the show extremely seriously, basing it loosely on real historical events, what’s coming up in the future, and more.

For the uninitiated, “Andor” serves as a prequel to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which itself was set just before the events of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” The Lucasfilm series follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) five years before meeting Jyn Erso and the gang in ‘Rogue One,’ as he finds himself thrust into the middle of a budding rebel cell with plans to put a stick in the Empire’s eye. It’s a first for the Star Wars universe, as it acts as a political spy thriller that really considers the age of oppression, life during wartime, and what it’s like to be on the ground as a member of the rebel alliance and as a member of the Imperial Army. Going even deeper, “Andor” really examines what it’s like for everyday people struggling under an oppressive regime. The show also stars Stellan SkarsgardGenevieve O’ReillyAdria ArjonaKyle SollerFiona Shaw, and more.

Gilroy said the aim was threefold: to engage dedicated “Star Wars,” to bring in “‘Star Wars’ averse” audiences, and treat it with solemn respect.

“You should be able to watch these 24 episodes as your entry point to ‘Star Wars.’ I mean, you shouldn’t have to know anything about ‘Star Wars’ to watch our show, he explained. “We’re going go down in places you never thought were going to be true to canon, but we’re going to give you—I mean, God, just the IP alone that we’re creating is just insane,” he said. “What we’ve built—and, we’re going to never be cynical about it. We’re going to take it more seriously than anybody ever took it.”

In a few breakout pieces we’ve already highlighted, Gilroy told us things like ‘Andor’ ends five days before the events of ‘Rogue One,’ that he won’t direct in season two, by design, and he spoke about the “original maniacs” of the Rebel Alliance, meaning characters like Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker) and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), and how some of those dynamics will be inspired by revolutions through history. But if it sounds like spoilers, it’s not. You already know how Cassian Andor ends up in ‘Rogue One,’ Thus, what’s attractive to Gilroy is not what happens.

“It’s the ‘why,’ it’s the ‘how’ did it happen,” he explained. “Diego said something fascinating yesterday about, you see people watch History Channel shows and whatever, and it’s, what that story, how it’s going to turn out. You know all that, and you’re still— ‘why did it happen?’”

Here are a few more excerpts from our chat.

On a granular, practical level, I can’t help but think of ‘Rogue One’ lines that might’ve got those gears turning years later—“I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old. You’re not the only one who lost everything”—all those meaty, suggestive things that Cassian, Diego Luna says in ‘Rogue,’ that himself said they were lines that “haunted him.”
And also, in the cell, I was just thinking when [Cassian] gets thrown in the cell and Baze and Chirrut are there with him, and the blind guy says, “I think you’ve been the prison inside yourself.” He says something like, “You’ve been caged your whole life.” There’s all this stuff. You know, I was just sort of goofy footing my way through there, laying little breadcrumbs that I didn’t even know I’d be picking up years later.

What I find so fascinating and intelligent about this is how it’s about the journey. I don’t know if you watch a lot of “Star Wars” television or genre TV, but it’s so plot-focused, and if it’s a prequel, it’s Wikipedia-style. But this feels like what TV should be: it’s character-driven. Because we know how Cassian’s story ends, but who cares, that’s not the point of this at all. This character’s journey is so fascinating. Like where we start with Cassian. He’s all self-interest, he’s—
Oh my God, yeah, he’s just chaos in the beginning. I mean, there’s nothing like doing 12 hours and 600 pages of series and all the rest of it. You really— it’s an x-ray into your process, and what’s important to you and how you work, you know? So I’ve become much more aware of how I work and how it’s different than some other people.

Everything for me is like—it’s inside baseball— but I can’t plot. I only plot through dialogue. That’s everything that I do. And because I’m dealing with so many other people and other writers and everything, and you watch how other people do it, and we had a little mini writer’s room twice, and you watch how you build that and whatever. But I don’t know how else you do it. I can never start by going, “oh, they’re going to do this.” I have to have everybody talking. And I think maybe that’s been a blessing in some ways.

READ MORE: Tony Gilroy Says The Final 3 Episodes Of ‘Andor’ Season 2 Take Place 5 Days Before ‘Rogue One’ Starts

It’s funny, when we talked last time, you still considered yourself an outsider in many ways, but by the time you’re done, you’ll have your Ph.D. doctorate in “Star Wars.” [laughs]
[Laughs], I dunno. I wouldn’t want to take the “Star Wars” S.A.T.s. I’d be like the guy who knows— like I only know this five-year period. There are five years that I curated, my five years. I got that down, but I would fail the SAT on a lot of the rest.

[Laughs] That’s kind of amusing to me. I always think of you like naming some planet and getting a kick out of that, or like, you probably don’t pay attention to the rest of it like “Star Wars Rebels” or—
But I don’t have to because I have like all people around me! [laughs] And then we have, you know, Pablo Hidalgo out in the Vatican. And so, if we have issues, we deal with that, and we figure out what we need. But also, let’s put it this way. It started on ‘Rogue.’ There are so many rules, “Oh, you can’t have paper; you can’t have wheels. You can’t have knives.” You can’t have all these different things. Well, there are all kinds of things that we have, and we’ve made an enormous amount of cannon, not violating canon, but we’ve made an enormous amount of new cannon in this show. So right, I’ve got my “Star Wars” merit badge on.

Here’s our complete podcast breakdown of Episode 4, plus our entire conversation with Tony Gilroy.

The Rogue Ones is part of The Playlist Podcast Network—which includes The Playlist Podcast, Be ReelDeep FocusThe Fourth WallThe DiscourseBingeworthy, and more—and can be heard on Apple Podcasts, AnchorFM, SoundcloudStitcher, and now on Spotify. Be sure to subscribe and drop us a comment or a rating, as we appreciate it. Thank you for listening.