[This story contains spoilers for Andor season one.]
Now that Andor season one has come to a close, creator Tony Gilroy is already off and running on season two.
The showrunner of the critically acclaimed Disney+ Star Wars series is currently embarking on a shoot that will last through August 2023, but he still managed to carve out some time to answer some of the lingering questions from the season one finale.
In “Rix Road,” the citizens of Ferrix were so inspired by Maarva’s (Fiona Shaw) parting words via hologram that they fought back against the Imperial forces that had been occupying their town for quite some time. Cassian (Diego Luna), who couldn’t help but return home for his adoptive mother’s funeral, managed to spot spymaster Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in the crowd, and once he freed Bix (Adria Arjona) from captivity and got her and the rest of his friends out of Dodge, he then caught up with the shadowy Rebel on his ship. Knowing that Luthen was looking to tie up loose ends, Cassian made it easy by offering either his life or his loyalty to the Rebellion.
“It’s a big day for Luthen. When he’s listening to Maarva’s speech, it’s not pride of ownership on his part … but it’s another corner of the farm he’s trying to grow. So he’s very proud when he hears that,” Gilroy tells . “And my God, to finish up the day and have this new asset [Cassian] walk in [who] is now basically saying, ‘Alright, I’m in. Blood oath,’ that’s a pretty good day, I think.”
The episode also features a rare Star Wars post-credit scene that confirms that Cassian and the other Narkina 5 prisoners were in fact building components for the Death Star, the very weapon that would eventually claim Andor’s life in Rogue One. Despite the reintroduction of Star Wars’ ultimate weapon, Gilroy says it’ll still be an impending threat in the background of season two, and its construction won’t take on a more active presence.
“It’ll still be the looming threat. Rogue One is all about discovering what it is. [Season two is] about who picks up the final breadcrumbs that lead to the beginning of Rogue One,” Gilroy says.
In a recent conversation with THR, Gilroy also discusses why none of season one’s directors are returning for season two.
Well, bravo, Tony.
Thank you. I’m bowing down.
You’re a history buff, so was the funeral procession turned riot/attack loosely based on anything?
The first comp is somewhere between those epic Provisional IRA funerals. God, there’s footage of some of them, and it’s just incredible what these funerals turn into. And then the other comp is a New Orleans second line funeral procession, the joy and soul of that. So those are the two comps. There’s also the idea of civic organizations like the Daughters of Ferrix and a community orchestra of aspirational musicians. For anybody who pays attention, there’s a doctor named Dr. Mullmoy [Matt Dunkley], and he’s the lead trumpet player in the band. So you see different people in the town. But that’s where it all came from.
I’d been wondering why we hadn’t seen Fiona Shaw’s Maarva in a little while and why she died off screen, but you answered those questions in the best way.
Were you surprised when she came back in the hologram?
I was! Because so much happened off screen, I initially thought that you faked her death so she could then lead the surprise attack.
I heard that theory! I heard that theory, and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s a legit idea.” I was like, “Wow, they snuck the body out and they did the whole thing,” so it’s a legit idea. But no, Maarva was absolutely dead.
Was Fiona Shaw still there on the day to give her speech for the other actors to hear?
No, we did that [speech] first.
The final exchange between Cassian and Luthen shows that Cassian has reached a point where he’s willing to die to protect the people he loves. “Or take me in” also suggests he’s now ready to take the Rebellion vow as well. So is Luthen’s smile one of pride?
Yeah, it’s a big day for Luthen. When he’s listening to Maarva’s speech, it’s not pride of ownership on his part. It is and it isn’t, but it’s another corner of the farm he’s trying to grow. So he’s very proud when he hears that. And my God, to finish up the day and have this new asset walk in — who’s been through all this stuff and is still standing and you managed not to kill — and he is now basically saying, “Alright, I’m in. Blood oath,” that’s a pretty good day, I think.
When I spoke to Denise Gough and Kyle Soller about their first days on Andor, they both described the setting in the finale. So did you shoot the finale first, or was it just the first day for certain actors?
Well, we shot out everything in Ferrix first, so it’s possible [that the finale was their first day]. [Tracking] has always been the writer’s job, and it’s always been my job on every movie that I’ve been on. It’s a smaller job, but it’s still very complicated. You really have to be the person who can track it all the way through. You have to be the person who knows where you are in the story at all times. It’s a huge advantage for writer-directors. Even if they don’t know how to do the camera or anything else, they have a huge leg up because they’re the one person who really knows where you are all the time. And on a show like this, it’s really complicated. And then have directors come in for blocks, and justifiably so, they only care about their shit that’s in front of them. Sometimes, they don’t pay attention to what’s before or after. Sometimes, we have to do stuff like that. So one of my jobs is that I have to make sure of those things, but these actors are all very good at knowing how to track. They’re very good about trusting me and having conversations about where they are. So that was probably the first day for them, which is a tough scene to shoot first, right?
When you shoot a [late-season] scene early, you don’t want the actor to come to you three months later and say, “Well, I really wish I’d known that. I would’ve done that differently.” So you don’t want to hear that. I’ve heard that, and it hurts.
Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) fabricated a story that her husband’s gambling is responsible for the missing money in her account.
You’re the first person who’s brought that up. I love that. Thank you.
Why does she still go through with the Sculdun (Richard Dillane) family arrangement if she already planted that gambling-related cover story?
She’s just trying to cover all the tracks. Sculdun originally came in and said, “Oh, I know your husband.” So, in the end, Sculdun probably thinks that this is really about her husband’s gambling debts. He doesn’t know what the real purposes are. But what I’m saying there is that she’s just covering all the bases. If anybody comes looking, if anybody’s wondering why she might be borrowing money or if Sculdun is wondering why she might be borrowing money, she can lay it off on poor Peerin [Alastair Mackenzie].
The post-credit scene confirms that Narkina 5 was actually building components for the Death Star. Will the Death Star’s construction have a more active presence in season two, or will it remain as the looming threat in the background?
It’ll still be the looming threat. Rogue One is all about discovering what it is. [Season two is] about who picks up the final breadcrumbs that lead to the beginning of Rogue One. In Rogue One, Cassian goes to the Ring of Kafrene to meet Tivik, who is from Saw’s group, and he says, “Oh my God, it’s a planet killer.” Cassian knows some shit, but he’s looking for answers. So we’ll [cover] the breadcrumbs that lead up to that, sure. But we have a situation where Cassian will never know that what he was building is actually the machine that’s going to kill him.
Do you intend to create any new scenes that fit within Rogue One’s timeline, be it a new perspective on an existing scene or a new in-between moment?
No, we’re going to go linearly into it. It’ll be him walking out to get on the ship and go there. So we’re not going to go into Rogue One.
If money was no object, would you have shown the Kreegyr ambush?
Well, in the grammar of our show, I probably wouldn’t. Our grammar is pretty rigorous. Without establishing Kreegyr as a speaking character, as someone that we’ve been with or some other peripheral character who’s there or something, I probably wouldn’t. We don’t ever go anywhere where one of our characters isn’t walking us into it, [Death Star] Easter egg aside and a few extreme cases like that. Even with our camera, our grammar is very rigorous about what we allow ourselves to do in the perspective we are allowed to have. So, probably not. I would take that Kreegyr money that you’re giving me and put it somewhere else.
Did Bix answer the Anto Kreegyr/Axis question off screen?
The scene ends before anything, but she’s just literally breaking down there. She doesn’t have an answer for them. She doesn’t have anything that they want.
Composer Nick Britell wrote that funeral march, right?
That’s the first thing that we did together. We didn’t really even know each other. That’s the first project we did before we started shooting. We did that and some of the Ferrix banging and stuff. And then we didn’t see each other for like six months, but we did that first, yeah. We fell in love doing that.
In season two, your three-episode arcs will apparently cover a year each, but how exactly will that work? Will there be time jumps between episodes or within each episode?
They are actually super condensed. They’re like three days, four days, two weeks, four days. They’re really tight. It’s cool that way. That’s what’s exciting about it. You can go away for a year, come back for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then jump a year. So they won’t be spread out. It won’t be like block two takes place over another year. So they’re very concentrated, which is fun. And then you have to account for all the negative space and what happened in the interim.
You began the series with Cassian asking about his sister, and then Maarva later tried to discourage him from looking any further. So will that thread be pulled on again at some point?
That’s TBD. I don’t want to get out in front of that question.
You didn’t bring any of season one’s directors back despite stellar work on their part. Did you want more of that new energy that worked so well the first go-round? [Writer’s Note: Ariel Kleiman, Janus Metz and Alonso Ruizpalacios will be directing on season two.]
Man, we tried really hard. Ben [Caron] didn’t want to come back because he had his movie [Sharper] with Julianne Moore. He’s a big feature director now, so he wants to see how his feature goes. We also wanted Toby [Haynes] to come back really badly, but he got jammed up on Black Mirror. So he couldn’t give us a decision in time, and we had to pull the trigger.
It’s very hard getting directors. There’s a lot of people who are shopping for the same people all the time, and there’s only a certain number of people. It’s not easy to do this show. You can’t learn on this job, and we can’t take big chances with these blocks. People have to be pretty experienced, and so that’s a smaller group. There’s a billion shows and everybody is scrounging for people. And a lot of people have a psychological impediment. They say, “Oh, I don’t want to do season two.” And we’re like, “This is not season two. It’s a whole other thing.” And so it’s a lot of work getting directors. It was way more difficult than I ever thought.
Once you wrap season two, do you think you’ll be open to developing more Star Wars projects without being the showrunner or point man?
I literally could not even begin to answer that. There’s no way to know that. It certainly doesn’t feel that way to me. It seems like at the end of the five years, I’m going to want to go do something else. I mean, I always like to do something else. I’ve never tried to do the same thing again, but I wouldn’t say never or no or anything. But what I know for sure is I don’t know.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from season one that you’ll apply to season two?
It’s knowing and feeling confident that all of the energy and the insanely obsessive vibe we created can carry us for another season, through August. The second jump out of the airplane is more terrifying. The first time you do it, your naivete carries you through, but what overcomes the terror of it all is knowing that we have this really great community and vibe. Everybody’s a filmmaker, and these people just respond when you give them room and just enough money to do their job and tell them how good they’re doing. Just put the shit on screen and don’t waste any money. So it’s a good feeling to know that we have a community that works.
Andor is now streaming on Disney+. This interview was edited for length and clarity.