Star Wars fans were introduced to the main characters of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Wednesday, but the reappearance of a familiar face is sparking intrigue among those who watch Star Wars’s TV offerings.
The unveilings arrived courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, which is featuring Rogue One on the cover of its magazine this week. Early in the day we learned more about Jyn Erso and received primers on Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic, Alan Tudyk’s droid character K-2SO, and the other members of the covert mission to steal the Death Star plans. But curiously, while Forest Whitaker’s character was shown in a gallery of new characters, his name was withheld for its own special reveal.
That’s because Whitaker is portraying Saw Gerrera, a freedom fighter whose name is very familiar to fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated TV show that ran for six seasons and showed what happened in the time between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
By the time we meet Saw Gerrera in Rogue One, he’s a distrusting veteran of the fight. He’s an ally of the Rebellion, but he’s more extreme and willing to do what needs to be done (even if those choices are questionable), making those in power rather uncomfortable.
“Consider him kind of a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told EW. “He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
The teases about Saw Gerrera are a little on the vague side, just like the other characters we met on Wednesday. But what he has that the other characters don’t (with the exception of Darth Vader) is a rich history.
He was introduced in The Clone Wars but his character was created even earlier
As Pablo Hidalgo, a creative executive at Lucasfilm and a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, explained on The Star Wars Show, Saw Gerrera wasn’t an original character in The Clone Wars. And as it turns out, he’s far from the only Clone Wars character who had similar origins.
“George Lucas had him in mind for his live-action TV series that he was in development, which ultimately never happened, but he found a place to put Saw into his story in Clone Wars,” Hidalgo said.
He has a connection to Darth Vader as he once was
Saw Gerrera is introduced in the fifth season of The Clone Wars as a resistance fighter on the planet of Onderon. He and his sister Steela Gerrera fought for his planet against the Separatists alongside a younger Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano, who were sent to the planet as advisors to train the fighters. While Onderon was eventually saved, it came after Steela sacrificed herself. That group would later form the earliest cells of the Rebel Alliance.
“I have always thought of Star Wars: The Clone Wars as an extension of the Star Wars films, and now, here we are, seeing a character come to life in the flesh on the big screen,” Filoni told ComicBook.com in a statement. “I think it’s tremendously exciting, because it’s fulfilling a promise to the fans, that this is one story, and the characters you know and love are throughout it, and influencing the story in many ways. I’m so proud of the Rogue One team, and everyone at Lucasfilm. It’s a great day for Star Wars.”
His reputation far precedes him
Despite having never appeared in a live-action Star Wars movie, Saw Gerrera is one of the more far-reaching characters in Star Wars canon.
He appears in The Clone Wars, but he also gets a nod in Star Wars Rebels by Agent Kallus, who says he was once ambushed by a mercenary who worked for Saw Gerrera when he was tasked to deal with the Rebels on Onderon. He’s also mentioned in Bloodline, the recent Leia Organa-centric, pre-Force Awakens novel that lays out what made her form the Resistance, by a political rival of Leia’s who brings up the “terrorist tactics of the Rebel Alliance” and “the campaigns of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans.”
Claudia Gray, who wrote Bloodline, had no idea about Saw Gerrera being in Rogue One, but she had an inkling of something when someone suggested she put his name in the book.
Hidalgo elaborated more on how Saw has changed over the years.
Saw Gerrera may be a powerful asset in getting the Death Star plans, but like any of the team members, he’s just as much of a wildcard. We can’t wait to see it.