Forest Whitaker isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to Star Wars, but he’s played a crucial role and will be important in how the franchise shapes things moving forward. Bridging the original trilogy and the prequels is no small feat where Star Wars is concerned. The space between Darth Vader’s prophesied “fall” and Luke Skywalker’s near-Messianic ascendancy has long beguiled viewers. But with so much lore already written down, any attempt at retelling that gap could be disastrous. Accidental paradoxes and the like.
Nonetheless, Lucasfilm (with Kathleen Kennedy leading) has boldly forged on, green-lighting several shows set in the same time period. Obi-Wan Kenobi will cover the 10 years after Anakin Skywalker’s defeat on Mustafar. Lando is a Solo: A Star Wars Story spinoff and will star Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian. Andor is a prequel for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, about Cassian Andor’s (Diego Luna) adventures leading up to the rebellion. With two other spinoffs closely in development, it would take more than a handful of rebels for Andor to stand out from the crowd. But with filming already fast underway, the Disney+ starrer already took its first step: adding Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera to the cast list. Stellan Skarsgård revealed the scoop in an audio interview with Swedish radio station Sverige Radio. He filmed some pretty “juicy scenes” with Whitaker for Andor, with “at least two” being very good.
Casual audiences may not know this, but Forest Whitaker has been in the Star Wars universe longer than the sequel trilogy. He’s been Saw Gerrera in The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and the 2019 hit video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. He was also in several audiobooks and novels, and was mentioned in Star Wars Battlefront II and a good number of comic books.
Forest Whitaker as Gerrera is among the Rebel Alliance’s most formidable fighters, having trained the likes of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and possibly hundreds more. An ally to the Jedi Order, he was around when Vader was still spunky young Anakin Skywalker. Gerrera began as a resistance member during the Onderonian Civil War, heavily opposing the Separatists and fighting for the liberation of his home planet. Saw Gerrera earned great notoriety as one of the Galactic Empire’s most dangerous enemies following Anakin Skywalker’s ascension to Sith Lord and was an active member of the Rebels, all the way down to his death in Rogue One.
And Forest Whitaker has seen himself move about this world in a way few others have. He was a close friend of the Ersos and the Wookiees on Kashyyyk. A former Head of Security at the Royal House of Naboo, Quarsh Panaka, became Moff (Palpatine’s Sector Governors) during the height of the Galactic Empire and was assassinated by Gerrera as retaliation. Saw Gerrera eventually died when Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin tested the Empire’s Death Star on Jedha; a blast wave tore through the Catacombs where Gerrera resided. His last thoughts revolved around his late sister Steela. Lucasfilm has yet to formally confirm that Forest Whitaker is 100% involved in Andor.
Andor started filming in November 2020 with social distancing protocols in place. The show has been switching between Pinewood Studios and several wooded and beach locations across England and Scotland. Andor stars Diego Luna as the titular spy, Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, Genevieve O’Reilly, Robert Emms, and Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera. Rogue One co-writer Tony Gilroy is spearheading the series, with Black Mirror’s Toby Haynes directing the first three episodes. Benjamin Caron (Sherlock) and Susanna White (Masters of Sex) are also confirmed to handle directing duties. Andor comes out on Disney+ sometime 2022.