Tony Gilroy, who is the creator and lead writer on the new Star Wars series Andor, has shared his approach to the development of compelling and realistic villains. Andor has been one of the best received shows to debut on the streaming service Disney Plus, in part thanks to its huge cast of new characters.
The sci-fi series was created by Tony Gilroy, who had a major role in the Star Wars movie Rogue One. It acts as a prequel to that movie, following Cassian Andor’s induction into the rebellion against the Empire. The show hasn’t shied away from the exploration of complex moral and thematic questions during this, and this more mature approach to Star Wars helps to set it apart from other recent Star Wars series.
Another reason why the series has been so well received is for the strength of its characters. The show has a large cast of Star Wars characters, including many antagonists. Villains, such as Syril Karn, have been lauded by audiences for their believable and grounded motivations.
Now, Gilroy has spoken about his approach to creating Andor’s villains. Speaking to StarWars.com, the series’ creator said that giving villains believable motivations is the key to making them effective antagonists. Gilroy said “I can’t imagine writing in black and white. I believe in every villain I’ve ever written. You really gotta believe in them you gotta love them, and you gotta know why they’re doing it, and you gotta feel for them. There has to be a reason for it, and you’ve got to get behind everyone.”
Seeing Gilroy’s comments, and then reflecting on the antagonists in Andor, makes perfect sense. Each of the antagonists in the series do have motivations that – even if they aren’t explicitly spelt out – seem clear to the audience. For example, the trader on Ferrix who alerted the Imperials to Andor’s presence did it because he was jealous of Andor spending time with Bix Caleen.
Likewise Dedra Meero, the ambitious Imperial supervisor, wants to demonstrate her capability to her boss. Meanwhile Syril Karn was intent on chasing Andor because he was eager to prove his dedication to his job to his higher-ups. These are all motivations that the audience can get invested in, believe in, and even relate to.