Forest Whitaker in Rogue One: Darth Vader to face off against former Clone Wars ally

Entertainment Weekly Rogue One A Star Wars StoryEntertainment Weekly is blowing the lid off of a trove of secrets surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, highlighting the movie on its July 1 cover and introducing details about many of its characters.

Rumored for months, it’s now official that Darth Vader has a big part in the film, which is set just before the Sith Lord’s Star Destroyer captures Princess Leia’s ship at the beginning of the original Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope. (UPDATE: Not only is Vader striking back, but James Earl Jones is reprising his role as the voice of the Dark Lord of the Sith, according to EW.)

But we now also know the identity of Forest Whitaker’s mysterious character — and it’s someone many Star Wars fans will recognize.

Forest Whitaker’s role

According to magazine, Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera, a polarizing freedom fighter who fought alongside Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker on the planet Ondero before his fall to the dark side. This happened during a story arc in the fifth season of the animated Clone Wars TV series. Gerrera recently was name-checked in both the Star Wars Rebel animated series on Disney XD and Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline.

Who is Saw Gerrera?

Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker)
Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker)

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy describes Gerrera this way: “Consider him kind of a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists, He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance.”

Pablo Hidalgo, Star Wars’ official canon caretaker from the Lucasfilm Story Group, appeared on The Star Wars Show to talk more about Saw Gerrera — including the revelation that the character actually originated with George Lucas’ vision for the never-produced live-action Star Wars series:

Other characters from Rogue One:

Vader’s not only got Gerrera and the Rebels to content with: Ben Mendelsohn’s character, Director Orson Krennic, is out to make a name for himself with the Emperor, and that’s not likely to not sit well with his jealous apprentice, so this new villain is understandably wary of Lord Vader and eager to give the Dark Lord a wide berth …

We also learn that Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of Galen Erso, Mad Mikkelsen’s character (not pictured), a scientist sought out by both the Rebel Alliance and the forces of the Empire.

Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen)
Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen)

Donnie Yen’s martial artist Chirrut Imwe is blind and a believer in, if not practitioner of, the Force. He’s fiercely protected by Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen (not pictured here).

Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna)
Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna)

Diego Luna is Captain Cassian Andor, described as a by-the-book Rebel intelligence operative. Riz Ahmed (not pictured) plays Rebel pilot Bodhi Rook.

The Rebels are joined by an appropriated Imperial droid, K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk and described as the antithesis of C-3PO and “Chewbacca’s personality in a droid’s body.” Yikes!

The Rogue One infodump probably couldn’t come at a better time: The non-episodic Star Wars film is taking a bit of a beating in the press over reshoots, which actually aren’t that unusual for such a high-profile property.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story debuts in December. With Star Wars Celebration Europe taking place mid-next month in London (check out that sweet official event art!), we’re sure to hear — and see — much more about this and other Star Wars developments very soon.

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Jayson Peters

Digital, social and print media pro. Nerdvana's founder, curator and editor.

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