A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...   0%

Written by Joe Yanick

Almost half a century has passed since George Lucas’ Star Wars was released, changing the face of fantasy and film forever. But it wasn’t just a film or even a series of films that were released; a whole universe was created: one filled with places we dreamed of visiting, characters we wish we knew, and alien objects we wanted to own. Let’s be real, who out there can’t say they haven’t thought about what that blue milk tasted like at least once?

With Disney now behind the wheel of Lucasfilm, Star Wars is being relaunched for new and old audiences alike and the company has set their sights on expanding the series. The first of these efforts is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which follows a band of rebels on a secret mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Although hype is steadily building for the film’s release, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy did admit to a bit of hesitation she had when the project was first green-lighted. “My first thought was, Oh, my God, I’m opening the floodgates if I say yes...this is really hard to do and really hard to get right,” Kennedy told Hero Complex in 2015.

Taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One will feature an almost entirely new cast of characters. Be it in the young, fierce Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the wicked Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), or warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), the film focuses on a wide array of personalities that will join the ranks of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo to live on for years to come. In anticipation of the film’s upcoming release this weekend, Complex is giving you an exclusive look into some of the film’s most important characters.

Jyn Erso

Birthplace: Vallt
Loyalty: Rebellion a.k.a. The Alliance to Restore the Republic
Other Appearances: Catalyst
Actor: Felicity Jones

Born in captivity on the frigid planet Vallt during the tail end of the Clone Wars, Jyn Erso is very much the product of her intelligent and calculated father, Galen, and her passionate and strong mother, Lyra. Fiercely independent from an early age, Jyn impressed those around her with her quick development and spirit.

When the Empire rose from the ashes of the Republic, Jyn and her parents were forced into hiding on the remote, desolate planet Lah’mu, but it wasn’t long before the Empire found them and imprisoned her father. At the age of 15, Jyn sets off on her own journey. The galactic underbelly becomes her training ground, and she masters abilities that, later, allow her to become a fearless leader. While she is believed by some to be “reckless and undisciplined,” she uses her strength and determination to inspire hope in the Rebellion, after she is recruited to help steal plans for the Death Star and bring the Empire down.

Cassian Andor

Birthplace: Fest
Loyalty: Rebellion a.k.a. The Alliance to Restore the Republic
Other Appearances: N/A
Actor: Diego Luna

Cassian Andor is a young, charismatic captain enlisted by the Rebellion to spy on the activities of the Empire. Resourceful and composed, Andor is admired by his commanded troops, leading them to victory with each mission.

Andor is trained and experienced, but his pragmatism is put to the test when he is assigned the task of monitoring Jyn Erso who the Rebellion believes is far too reckless to trust without a handler. Together with his modified Imperial droid, K-2SO, Andor serves as Erso’s balance

Orson Krennic

Birthplace: Lexrul
Loyalty: Empire
Other Appearances: Catalyst
Actor: Ben Mendelsohn

From his earliest days, Orson Krennic set his sights on quickly climbing the hierarchy of power. He is driven, cunning, and unafraid of double crossing anyone that impedes his progress. Krennic’s real ascent to power began when he was enlisted into the secretive Advanced Weapons Research program for the Republic during the Clone Wars. It is here that Krennic becomes obsessed with realizing the true potential of the Death Star, a goal he sees as aligned with his own success within the Republic-turned-Empire.

Krennic is beguiling, and he uses this trait to manipulate those around him with ease. Krennic is a cold, cruel, and ambitious man who will stop at nothing to get his way. The destruction of human and alien lives — even entire worlds — mean nothing if it brings him closer to rising up the ranks of the Empire.

Chirrut Îmwe

Birthplace: Jedha
Loyalty: Independent
Other Appearances: N/A
Actor: Donnie Yen

Born on the moon Jedha, Chirrut Îmwe is a deeply spiritual and deadly warrior monk. Îmwe may be blind, but years of intensive training have helped him to hone his abilities, making him a sort of Daredevil to the intergalactic universe. Armed with just a staff and bowcaster, Îmwe proves to be a worthy opponent to foes even when greatly outnumbered.

Îmwe is also a strong believer in the power of the Force, despite the fact that he is not sensitive to its control. He conducts himself with great poise and a strong reverence for all Jedi.

Galen Erso

Birthplace: Grange
Loyalty: Independent
Character Origin: Catalyst
Actor: Mads Mikkelsen

Born into poverty in one of the largest cities of Grange, Galen Erso’s intelligence was first recognized by his mother. As the son of a merchant and a preschool teacher, Erso grew up in an environment where the money was tight. Still, Erso’s mother saved all she could in order to push him into pursuing his full potential. Eventually, Erso found crystallography and was moved by crystallographers’ ability to harness massive amounts of energy that could be used to power worlds around the galaxy.

Erso is a noble, brilliant thinker, but his drive clouds his rationale. Naturally trusting of those around him, Erso is betrayed, setting him on a path that aids the development of the Death Star’s destructive powers through the use of Kyber Crystals. Though Erso’s allegiance is to science and neither the Separatists nor the Republic, the Empire’s exploitation of his research during the Clone Wars pushes the scientist toward aligning with a group of Rebel freedom fighters who help ensure his safe escape from the Empire’s grip.


Birthplace: N/A
Loyalty: Imperial Army turned Rebellion a.k.a. The Alliance to Restore the Republic
Other Appearances N/A
Actor: Alan Tudyk (Motion Capture)

K-2SO is a security droid created and employed by the Imperial Army. A virility programmed droid, the K-2SO unit stands at a towering height and is incredibly strong. Essentially, K-2SO is what you would get if you mixed Chewbacca with C-3PO. Programmed for security measures, however, K-2SO is not driven by the need to balance human-to-cyborg interactions, as C-3PO was, but instead to enforce protocol.

Stolen from an Imperial base and reprogrammed by Andor, K-2SO’s allegiance to the Empire is washed clean, and he becomes Andor’s protector and sidekick. K-2SO is an important tool for Andor as the droid can seamlessly blend into Imperial surroundings.

Baze Malbus

Birthplace: Jedha
Loyalty: Independent
Other Appearances: N/A
Actor: Jiang Wen

Baze Malbus is the self-appointed protector and best friend to Chirrut Îmwe. While a spiritual and balanced ethos drives Îmwe, Malbus is motivated by the hardships of life on the Empire-occupied Jedha and reacts to his surroundings with far more pessimism. Even though he doesn’t share his friend’s religiosity, his devotion to Îmwe is unwavering. The two serve as a balance of sensibilities that producer Kathleen Kennedy compares to the “galactic version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Driven by his animosity for the Imperial Army and armed with a heavy-repeater cannon, Malbus uses his former skills as an assassin to help guide the Rogue One team in their goals to uncover the plans for the Death Star.

Saw Gerrera

Birthplace: Onderon
Loyalty: Rebellion a.k.a. The Alliance to Restore the Republic
Character Origin: Star Wars: The Clone Wars — A War on Two Fronts, S05E02
Actor: Forest Whitaker

Though he appears as a hardened and ailing older man in Rogue One, Saw Gerrera has a long, emboldened history of resistance fighting. He is cocksure almost to a fault, but his confidence is backed by a fierce devotion to his cause. Gerrera was unofficially trained by Jedi forces to ward off Separatist forces on his home planet of Onderon during the Clone Wars, and it was during these battles that his sister, Steela, suffered a fatal injury. The loss haunts Gerrera, as he blames himself for the death and uses the tragedy to guide his steadfast belief in the Rebel’s cause.

If Gerrera’s name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s hardly by accident. Modeled off of the spirit of freedom fighters like Che Guevara, Gerrera is a politically motivated guerilla soldier, working to undermine the Empire’s stronghold over the galaxy. Gerrera is determined to fight the Empire with his every breath even if it means sacrificing his own life (or more specifically his right leg) for the cause.


Guards to a top-secret Imperial headquarters on the tropical planet of Scarif, shoretroopers are designed to be effective under extreme conditions. Instead of the traditional full suit of plastoid composite plates, shoretroopers’ armor is designed for mobility in sandy, warm terrain, with full protection provided only for their calves, torso, arms, and head. While the lack of full body armor leaves the troopers vulnerable to blaster fire, they gain the ability to quickly maneuver through less-than-ideal territory. The shoretroopers were created in a similar fashion to the scout troopers; they both have narrower helmets than the traditional stormtrooper. They may be overdressed for the beach, but it sure beats a full body of armor under God knows how many suns.

Death Trooper

Alright, if nothing else, the death troopers are shaping up to be one of the most impressive additions to the Star Wars canon. The shiny, all-black plate armor matched with a narrow and menacing-looking helmet gives these troopers as iconic a look as the original stormtrooper. Assigned as Orson Krennic’s personal guards, the death troopers are enlisted to ensure the safe completion of the Advanced Weapons Research project and the Death Star…and they look good while doing it.


First appearing in A New Hope, stormtroopers are among the most iconic images to emerge from the Star Wars universe. If you didn’t dress up as a stormtrooper for Halloween at least once, it’s a safe bet you envied all your friends who did. Evolving out of the clone program, stormtroopers are equipped with full-body armor that allow for the troopers’ deployment in an array of conditions. However effective, stormtrooper’s body plating is cumbersome and limits mobility in difficult terrain.


What is most exciting about Rogue One is the sheer amount of fresh characters being introduced for the first time, or at least, the first time on film. Beyond the eight leading figures, there are many supporting roles that will play an important part of shaping either the plot or the motivations for the leads. First introduced in the Catalyst novel, the mother of Jyn and wife of Galen, Lyra Erso (Valene Kane), is, pound for pound, Jyn’s equal. Supporting his work by translating Galen’s sloppy shorthand while also keeping him honest and aware of being exploited, Lyra matches her intelligence with strength. She’ll be yet another strong female character in the expansive universe, even if her part in Rogue One is brief.

Joining the Rogue One team are also pilot Bodhi Rook (played by indie film darling Riz Ahmed); Bistan (Nick Kellington) a.k.a. Space Monkey, a red-eyed Iakaru warrior; as well as Pao a.k.a. Big Mouth, a short amphibious Drabata platoon leader. The latter two’s unique personas and physiques bring the Star Wars charm and help to break up the otherwise all-human crew. Aiding the Rebellion to restore the Republic and organizing the Rogue One team are two former Imperial Senators Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) and Jebel (Jonathan Aris), whose personal experiences with the Empire have turned them against it.

But it is not only new characters being featured in Rogue One: our old friend Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) shows up in a cameo role as well. What more can be said about Vader that hasn’t already been spilled over every corner of the web? Darth Vader is, to put it bluntly, one of the great screen villains. Unlike the cruel Orson Krennic, Vader has been manipulated and driven to the dark side. You can’t help but like him, even if you aren’t rooting for his success. The former senator of Republic Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), who fans will remember from the prequels, will also return to the scene, hopefully donning one of his signature sashes again.

Works Consulted

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

Episode One: The Phantom Menace
Episode Two: Attack of the Clones
Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "A War on Two Fronts" (Season 5, Episode 2)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Front Runners" (Season 5, Episode 3)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "The Soft War" (Season 5, Episode 4)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Tipping Points" (Season 5, Episode 5)

Star Wars
Star Wars Youtube
LA Times
EW (1, 2)


Illustrations by Dale Edwin Murray
Creative Direction by Brandon Banks
Additional intro video design by Jonathan "J.P." Chavez
Editors: Dana Droppo and Mike Sheffield
Imperial Trooper Videos supplied by Disney