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Many Star Wars fans got excited when Forest Whitaker was cast in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last summer, and almost a year later, they got their first look at his character in the teaser trailer. While it was clear that Whitaker's character is a seasoned soldier who has some thought-provoking questions to ask either Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso or one of the other characters, we never learned who he was or how he fits into the story, but now those questions have been answered. Today, it was revealed that Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera, a warrior who previously showed up on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.
Saving the best of its Rogue One coverage for last, EW revealed that Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans will reunite with Saw Gerrera approximately 20 years after he appeared during the show's fifth season. Originally voiced by Andrew Kishino, Saw and his sister Steela were introduced in the episode "A War on Two Fronts" as members of the Onderon Rebels, a group of freedom fighters who fought back against the new Separatist-controlled regime on their home world. They fought alongside Anakin Skywalker, his apprentice Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and appeared in three other episodes. We won't spoil what happened to them in those episodes for those who haven't watched the TV series (it's available on Netflix), but at least we now know Saw makes it out of the Clone Wars alive.
Fast forward to Rogue One, Saw Gerrera is continuing to fight the good fight, but as the report notes, he is "bulkier, more battle-hardened and even a little "shell shocked" (and is also now sporting long gray hair, unlike the shaved head look from the teaser trailer). Nevertheless, he is now battling the Imperials, and while is is a Rebel ally, his methods are especially extreme, making him somewhat of an outsider. As Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy put it:
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 for how Saw gets involved in the Rogue One story, the Death Star is the uniting cause that gets these Rebel factions to work together, showing just how desperate they are to stopping the Empire's planet-destroying space station. Lucasfilm's head of story development Kiri Hart said:
The Death Star is the event that sort of pulls everybody into a place of unity, and prior to that it's a little bit more divided. Who are at the different ends of that spectrum?
While this isn't the first time a character from a Star Wars animation project has later been added to a movie (let's not forget that Boba Fett debuted in the Star Wars Holiday Special), it is a big deal that a character who originated from The Clone Wars is is getting the live action treatment. This could open the door for other Star Wars: The Clone Wars characters or folks from Star Wars Rebels to be included in one of the other spinoff movies or even one of the sequel trilogy entries. Granted, their entire backstory couldn't be explained, but it Saw can be brought into Rogue One in a seamless way, others might be able to get the same treatment.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16.