Earlier today, we brought you a ton of new information about the central characters featured in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, thanks to a new feature in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly. However, details on Forest Whitaker’s role were not revealed initially, with EW saying that his character “has a past that Star Wars completists will recognize immediately when they see his name, even if he looks very different than the way they’ve seen him elsewhere.”
Now, EW has confirmed that Forest Whitaker is portraying Saw Gerrera, who Star Wars fans may recognize as a freedom fighter who first appeared in animated form as part of The Clone Wars series. He was part of an insurgent group that was being trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, long before the latter would find himself drawn to the Dark Side and reinvented as Darth Vader.
With more than two decades passing since the events of the animated series, Gerrera is battle-hardened and experienced, governed by his own moral code that leads him to make some pretty questionable decisions in order to serve the greater good. “Consider him kind of a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy tells EW. “He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
Rogue One has always been described as a war film, and the story team at Lucasfilm needed someone that could illustrate a more extreme form of resistance against the tyranny of the Empire. Rather than create a new character, they chose to reach back into the existing lore and pull Gerrera into the film, reasoning that his arc on The Clone Wars provided a solid foundation for him becoming a radical that works in the shadows, rather than falling in with the rest of the Alliance.
“The Death Star is the event that sort of pulls everybody into a place of unity, and prior to that it’s a little bit more divided,” says Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s head of story development. “Who are at the different ends of that spectrum?”
Of course, this immediately raises the question of whether or not we can expect other characters from The Clone Wars or its successor, Star Wars Rebels, to appear in future films. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see a live-action version of Ahsoka Tano kicking ass on the big screen?
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