At this point, the lovable rake seems as integral to making Star Wars feel like Star Wars as the Force. Not only do we have Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron becoming the resident handsome smart-ass in the new Star Wars trilogy following the original rake, Han Solo, we now have Captain Cassian Andor in Rogue One. He's less of a snark master in the vein of Poe, and more ruthless as a spy for the rebel alliance, but the charm remains. But Cassian is not Han Solo (or Poe Dameron), and if you have any doubt about that, actor Diego Luna has some words for you.
"I think Cassian is just Cassian and that is the beauty of playing this role, that I had freedom to start from scratch," says Luna when I speak with him at Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco — unlike his character, whose signature look is that of a scruffy rebel leader, Luna dons a perfectly tailored suit for the occasion.
And though I agree with Luna's assertion after seeing the film, certain elements seem to line up. Cassian operates on the edges of society, much like the rebel alliance itself, and a certain beloved rake that we first met in A New Hope. Combine that with a familiar coat donned by Luna's character in some Rogue One scenes — one that resembles the coat Han Solo wears on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back — and fans may be tempted to make comparisons between Captain Andor and the reformed smuggler.
But Luna has a point (and not just because Han & Cassian's coats are clearly the ubiquitous Canada Goose coats of the Star Wars universe). His character isn't necessarily someone we've seen before, despite some on-paper details that match up if you really want them to. Outwardly, Cassian and Han both embody the term that Han once bristled at — "scruffy-looking," of course — but the character doesn't really resemble Han quite as much as their circumstances would suggest.
According to Luna, a great deal of that is because Rogue One director Gareth Edwards really pushed for Luna and the rest of the cast to find their characters as unique people, not as characters in a galaxy far, far away.
"Gareth asked me to make sure we kept a very realistic tone through the journey of these characters that we would always have this feeling of intimacy with the character and that tonally the film, he wanted a film where the proximity of the camera and the characters is a lot, you are there, living it with them," the actor says. "It was very important for [Gareth] that we created characters that you could relate to who were normal and real, full of contradictions like we are."
Full of contradictions, Han Solo is not. For all Han's talk in Episodes four through seven, it's never really unclear whose side he's on. But with Cassian, and everyone in Rogue One for that matter, those lines aren't always so clear.
"There’s no good and bad, black and white in this film," says Luna. "This film happens in the in between, basically."
So if you think Cassian is the new Han because he's handsome, sure, both characters are bonafide members of the Star Wars heartthrob corps. But the one-for-one comparison doesn't make it much further beyond that. Rogue One is no karaoke number, and neither, for the record, is Captain Andor.
Images: Lucasfilm (3)