Rebel With a Cause

Andor just changed a classic Star Wars formula with one major character

Stellan Skarsgård plays Luthen Rael, and his character is reframing Star Wars.

Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, Cassian Andor has Luthen Rael. Played by Stellan Skarsgård, this mysterious Andor character immediately grabs your attention. Not only is Skarsgård a great actor, but his character is an anomaly in the grounded world of Andor.

Unlike the rest of the show’s cast of characters, which is mostly made up of regular civilians just trying to get by on a far-flung mining planet, Luthen Rael is a man on a mission. He represents the first appearance of the Rebellion in Cassian’s life. But he also represents so much more.

Here’s everything we know about Stellan Skarsgård’s Andor character, and what it reveals about how Andor is changing Star Wars. Spoilers ahead!

Stellan Skarsgård and Andor’s “hero’s journey”

Cassian Andor and Luthen Rael try to make a quick exit from CorpSec officers.Lucasfilm

Luthen Rael crosses paths with Cassian Andor under the guise of wanting to purchase a black market NS9 Starpath Unit stolen from the Empire. Cassian intends to use the funds to get off planet and start a new life elsewhere, but Rael makes a tempting offer: If Andor goes with him, he could fight for something good instead of just trying to survive.

Their conversation is cut shot by a group of corporate soldiers looking for Cassian, and exchanging some fire, the new duo manages to make it off planet. This is Cassian’s first step into the Rebellion and a major moment for the series. The character has no idea what’s in store, but the audience knows this journey will take him to his eventual demise. It’s for this reason that Andor’s story is so different than anything else in Star Wars.

Star Wars has always been built on the foundation of the Hero’s Journey, an archetype established by mythologist Joseph Campbell. George Lucas credited Campbell as an influence on the original trilogy, and the hallmarks of that journey are still found in modern Star Wars stories.

One of the key elements of the Hero’s Journey is the elderly mentor. We’ve seen generations of these characters in Star Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi had Qui-Gon Jinn. Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan. Rey had Luke Skywalker. The mentor introduces the hero to the wider world, then steps aside — usually by dying — so that the hero is driven to rise to the challenges before them.

In Andor, Luthen Rael fills this role for Cassian, but in a way we’ve never seen before

Andor already had one mentor figure who took him on an adventure: His adoptive mother, Maarva.Lucasfilm

Luthen Rael is not in the business of being a mentor. He’s a recruiter, and he’s not about to ruin his cover just to hold the hand of some pilot. He’s forced into the role of a mentor who sends the hero on a journey even though Maarva (Cassian’s adopted mother played by Fiona Shaw) would be a better fit the role.

The final scenes of Andor Episode 3 show these two crucial moments of Cassian’s life in juxtaposition, suggesting he’s always been destined to be a hero. First, it took the compassion of a stranger to save him. Now it will take the urging of Luthen Rael, another stranger, to get Cassian to help save the galaxy.

Andor is now streaming on Disney+.