When it comes to Lucasfilm's next Disney+ series, Andor, the traditional Star Wars intro of "a long time ago" has a dual meaning.
Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi, which debuted on Disney+ back in May, Andor is also a prequel series. However, it's a prequel to one of Disney's Star Wars films, 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which, in itself, was a prequel to 1977's A New Hope.
Starring Diego Luna who's reprising his role as Cassian Andor, audiences know how his story ends; in Andor, they're going to learn how it begins.
However, time isn't just of the essence within the Star Wars Universe. In fact, when it comes to Andor's original length, time was an issue for Luna in this universe as well.
Diego Luna Resisted Andor's Original Number of Seasons
In an interview for Andor, the cast and crew revealed that five seasons were originally planned for the upcoming Star Wars Disney+ series.
According to actress Denise Gough, who plays Andor character Dedra Meero, she and the cast "sort of signed up for five years" before Luna spoke up, stating he would "die if (he did) five seasons)" of the Star Wars show:
“We sort of signed up for five years. We thought they were gonna be five seasons of this and then thankfully Diego [Luna] was like, ‘I’ll die if I do five seasons.’ So they condensed it into this amazing– I don’t know how he’s done it, but he has condensed… Tony Gilroy has managed to do one more season and you’re gonna have told the whole story.”
As to how showrunner Tony Gilroy condensed five years of storytelling into two, Andor's first season is set to cover a year's time. Meanwhile, its second season will be divided into four blocks with each block representing a year of its own.
So even though Andor isn't, as Diego Luna rejected, a five-season series, it will still span five years of Cassian's life.
Tony Gilroy actually commented on the length of each season's number of episodes, explaining that "you gotta pick the right number:"
“There’s a new dial on everybody’s console, which is, ‘How long should my story be? Is it three episodes? Is it seven? Is it twelve? Is it– what is it?’ You gotta pick the right number.”
As to that number, both seasons of Andor are confirmed to be 12 episodes long. And, according to Gilroy, that number is "liberating:"
“It’s really fantastic to be able to stretch out to have just have a Dickensian amount of characters that interact and tell a massive story. You don’t wanna waste time, you wanna keep… your compression skills but… it’s very liberating.”
Kyle Soller, who plays Syril Karn in the series, shared his experience in talking with Tony Gilroy about Andor and his own character, saying:
“Tony kind of fleshed out what was gonna happen potentially for the rest of the season, but he hadn’t written it yet. And he… when he was talking about Syril, he was like, ‘At this point, is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? I don’t know. Is he gonna end up like this? Is he gonna end up like that? I don’t know.’ And I was like, ‘Okay man.’ I’m like, well, I’ll just take that as a starting point…”
Denise Gough chimed in, remarking, "That's so great," as Soller continued commenting on his character's "grey area:"
“… and use that kind of grey area and complexity of, ’Is he or isn’t he?’”
According to Gough, even though Gilroy knows the length and conclusion of the series, not knowing a character's conclusion is a good thing for actors:
“But that makes total sense to give you that note before it even starts. So even within creating a character, you’re like, ‘I’m not sure.’ But it was like, he needed me to commit to, ‘Don’t try and make this girl sweet and nice underneath it all.’ He just wanted me to go hell for leather."
Andor's Unique Five-Year Plan
Not only are prequels tricky when it comes to time restraints, but productions can be just as difficult in that sense, especially within the Star Wars brand. After all, The Mandalorian has yet to release its third season, despite having debuted on Disney+ back in 2019.
While Diego Luna has been nothing but enthusiastic about his return to that galaxy far, far away, it's understandable why a five-season commitment would've been too much for the actor.
But even though Star Wars fans are only getting two seasons of Andor as opposed to five, it's worth noting that both of its seasons are longer than what Lucasfilm has traditionally produced for a Star Wars Disney+ series.
Also, through Tony Gilroy's creative problem-solving and self-professed "compression skills," fans are still getting the five-year Cassian Andor story that the showrunner set out to tell.
Therefore, in the end, both the actor and the creator won. The question now is whether the series length - and Andor itself - will win over Star Wars fans in the coming weeks.
The first three episodes of Andor premiere on Disney+ on September 21.