Rogue One’s Forest Whitaker Really Loves His Star Wars Character

Saw in Rogue One

The Star Wars franchise is in a fascinating place right now. With Disney now in charge of the beloved property, there's a ton of new and exciting content being produced by Lucasfilm. In addition to the main installments, the space opera has expanded to standalone movies. This trend started with Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which bridged the gap between the prequel trilogy and A New Hope. A fantastic cast was assembled to play the doomed rebels, including the great Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera. Despite not having much screen time, Saw made a lasting impact on the franchise. He also affected Whitaker himself, who recently expressed why he loves his Star Wars character so much.

I liked playing that character. He's amazing because in this movie, the director put more gray into Star Wars stories than normal. He's a character who was fighting against oppression and those dark forces that were trying to harm humanity, but yet decided to take on some of their practices in order to be able to win, because he thought the final result was more important. That's a big question, by any means necessary, that we have to look at and see, what is necessary?

While the Star Wars franchise is largely about the conflict between good and evil, things have become a bit more nuanced in recent additions. This includes the characterization of Saw Gererra, a Clone Wars veteran who is willing to stop at nothing to stop The Empire. He functions in the margins of the franchise's moral battle, which is why Forest Whitaker loved playing the newcomer.

Forest Whitaker's comments to EW show how much the actor has really thought out his character's motivations. Saw wasn't in a ton of Rogue One, but there's a cognitive dissonance that the actor internalized in order to inform his performance. Because while Saw Gerrera is trying to rebel against a murderous and totalitarian Empire, he's forced to use extreme methods in order to make a difference.

While the main Star Wars franchise mostly focuses on heroes like Luke, Leia, and Han, the standalone movies have helped to flesh out Geoge Lucas' iconic world. Both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo were void of lightsaber duels and Jedi nights, therefore allowing the audience to get a broader scope of the galaxy under Empire rule. And while they might not have been present during the iconic battles on Hoth and Endor, there are countless unnamed soldiers who were involved in the titular wars. Each have their own story and internal battle, and Saw Gerrera is a great example of that.

The next installment in the Star Wars franchise will be J.J. Abrams' untitled Episode IX on December 20th, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.