Tony Gilroy Kept the Faith for ‘Andor.’ Its 8 Emmy Nods Are Affirmation.
The show’s creator talked about the pressures and uncertainties of doing something different in the “Star Wars” universe — and seeing it pay off.
By Matt Stevens
Wednesday was a big day for the Galactic Empire. “Andor,” the Disney+ “Star Wars” prequel series that made its debut last fall, picked up eight Emmy nominations, including one in the best drama category.
Over 12 episodes in its first season, the show follows Cassian Andor, the Rebel spy played by Diego Luna, who will eventually carry out the desperate act of espionage depicted in the 2016 film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” “Andor” has drawn acclaim for its focus on the interior lives of its characters and for homing in on the struggles of ordinary citizens. A second season of the show is forthcoming.
The Emmy accolades offer a degree of vindication for the “Star Wars” executives at Disney who made a big and expensive bet on the series, and for the creator of “Andor,” Tony Gilroy, who helped write and oversee “Rogue One.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Gilroy discussed the Emmy nods and how “Star Wars” has expanded on TV. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
We know that delving into the “Star Wars” universe comes with pressure. So how does it feel to rack up eight Emmy nominations today?
Affirming. The past 10 months have just been such a pleasure. It’s such a huge show, but we made it so privately and quietly. When you make a “Star Wars” show or film, you can’t go out and do a lot of focus groups and a lot of testing. We really never had an audience, and the pressure to finish the show comes right down to the deadline. So really, the audience was our focus group. We really did not know what to expect as we came forward. And to end up here now with eight nominations, it’s just a gas.
It’s also the payout on a really huge gamble that Disney took and that Lucasfilm took. This is not for the faint of heart, shows of this scale. And so good on them. I hope they’re happy with this result as well.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi” also did well today. And “The Mandalorian” has been a success. What, if anything, does this tell you about transferring “Star Wars” stories from the big screen to TV?
It’s economically challenging and its certainly emotionally and chronologically challenging to the creative team. But if you have a story that wants a larger canvas, that opportunity is now available. And there are a lot of stories that don’t want to fit into 120 pages or an hour and a half. It’s a very exciting time to be a storyteller if you can crack the formula of how to make it economically feasible.
Some of the praise the show has drawn is for sort of giving us a look at ordinary people in an oppressive world. There is maybe a little less classic “Star Wars” and a little more focus on day-to-day life on distant planets. Was that intentional? Why go that direction?
Those are the things that have always interested me. When Disney and Kathy Kennedy [the Lucasfilm president] came and proposed it, it was with that as a sort of genetic mandate for: Let’s go into the kitchen and get out of the dining room; let’s go to the back of the house. There are billions and billions of people that live in the galaxy. Why concentrate on the royal family and a dominant story that’s taken up all the oxygen so far? Why not see if we can’t take a deep dive into what it’s like to be at the ground level as a revolution is sweeping through?
Did you have faith that “Star Wars” fans would be interested in that?
I’ve been on this — in August it’ll be four years. My ability to believe and have confidence is not a constant. There have been times all the way through where I wondered if I’d made a terrible mess of my life or made the wrong commitment. It’s not like a film where you can sort of bandage yourself up and get through the experience if it’s not going well. This is a long-term commitment and the responsibility is enormous on every level.
So I wish I could say that I had faith all the way through, but that would not be true.
Matt Stevens is an arts and culture reporter for The Times based in New York. He previously covered national politics and breaking news. More about Matt Stevens
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