The Inverse Interview

'Andor' introduces a terrifying new type of Star Wars villain

“This is a really human story.”

Star Wars has always been a story of heroes vs. villains. Good vs. evil. The movies rest comfortably in the “space opera” genre, existing as modern-day myths. But with Andor, Star Wars is moving into a new genre altogether: the spy thriller. In spy stories, the lines of good and evil are never as firm as what insignia you wear on your uniform. Loyalties shift from left to right at a moment’s notice.

Because of that, Andor posed a unique challenge. How do you create a world within Star Wars that has room for defectors? The solution Andor found is by introducing a unique element to that galaxy far away: a bureaucratic, capitalistic sector that couldn’t care less about the Force.

The Empire’s fringes are all over Andor, but specifically in two characters:

Syril Karn: A deputy inspector with the Morlana One Corporation Authority, the company that governs the mining planet of Morlana One. Played by Kyle Soller.

Dedra Meero: A supervisor of the Imperial Security Bureau. Played by Denise Gough.

Dedra Meero meets with her superiors in Andor. Lucasfilm

Neither character is too concerned with the greater politics of the pre-Rogue One era. Instead, they’re mainly focused on squashing any inkling of disobedience in respective separate domains.

These characters are brought to life by Kyle Soller and Denise Gough, two classically trained actors. For them, these new characters emphasize parts of Star Wars that are especially pertinent to today.

“It's taking Star Wars into a new zone, really investigating a bureaucratic structure and system,” Kyle Soller tells Inverse.

“I'm playing a woman in a man's world.”

“This is one of the first times you have Imperial officers being studied the way that you're gonna study them over the course of these 12 episodes,” Denise Gough adds. “So you get to see all the light and shade within, it's not just goodies and baddies. This is a really human story.”

Dedra’s role isn’t anything like Grand Moff Tarkin or Moff Gideon. She believes in the Empire, sure, but her journey is more personal than just following orders from her higher-ups. Despite this being a sci-fi fantasy world, systematic issues like sexism still run rampant.

“I'm playing a woman in a man's world,” she says. “She has to do certain things in order to get to where she wants to go. Some of them absolutely reprehensible, but I believe watching it, you think, Well, maybe if I were in her shoes, would I do the same thing.”

Syril Karns sets his sights on Cassian Andor.Lucasfilm

Syril Karn’s character is less relatable. While Dedra is looking to make her way through this changing world, Syril is looking to climb the corporate ladder. Finding and arresting Cassian Andor may be the perfect way to do it.

“When people feel outside of a system, when they feel they don't have place, when they have fear or shame, it's a very seductive place to find yourself,” Soller says.

Morlana One operates much like the company towns of yore. The corporation controls every aspect of life (say goodbye to any sense of work-life balance). For Syril, success at work may be the only way to achieve a better life, even if that success means ruining the life of some down-on-his-luck civilian.

“In this world, you can be rewarded for the things that actually are neuroses within a character,” Soller says.

Both Dedra and Syril shine a spotlight, or rather, an intensely focused flashlight, on a subject that’s often overlooked in Star Wars — the villain as an individual. These people don’t fight for some greater cause, they’re just people trying to make their way through the galaxy through bounties, pencil-pushing, and quiet rebellion. In a way, that’s even scarier than the Empire as a whole.

Andor premieres September 21 on Disney+.