Earlier today, we learned some details on the new heroes and villains of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but there was one very noticeable face missing among those ranks — that of Forest Whitaker, the Oscar-winning actor who gave everyone the nerd chills with his “What will you become?” moment in the first Rogue One trailer. Despite his scene-stealing moments, Whitaker’s character has remained a mystery until now, and for some fans, he’s a familiar face (kind of).
EW reveals that Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera, an extremist freedom fighter against the resistance who made his first appearance in the fifth season of the animated series The Clone Wars. Andrew Kishino voiced the role in the show, and the cinematic incarnation marks not just a change in actors, but in appearance as well. In The Clone Wars, Saw had bright blue eyes and noticeably different scarring. It’s a curious change since it would be so easily fixed, and it kind of makes you wonder if the character overlay wasn’t perhaps a decision that was tacked on somewhere in the process…say maybe during these extensive reshoots. Or maybe Whitaker just doesn’t want to wear contacts.
Set between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars introduced Saw as a young man on planet Onderon who fought alongside his sister Steela in an insurgent group unofficially trained by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano. Burned by his losses in the war and the price he paid for his involvement in the resistance, Saw spent the decades between The Clone Wars continuing to fight (to use his words) and has become something between a hero and a villain.
Saw, as we find him in Rogue One, is a grizzled veteran and still a proponent of guerrilla warfare that verge on terrorist tactics. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained,
“Consider him kind of a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists. He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
As such, Saw is an Ally of the team of heroes that make up the Rebel squad in Rogue One, but he’s not really a part of the team. “He’s off on his own,” Kennedy says.
As for the Death Star blueprint-thieving team he’s aligned himself with, the rundown includes Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Alan Tudyk as the droid K-2SO, Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, and Jiang Wen as Chirrut’s devoted companion Baze Malbus. Get the details on the character breakdowns here, or everything else we know about Rogue One so far here.