Mild spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
This past weekend marked the first time the Star Wars cinematic universe diverted from its trilogy format to give audiences a new adventure with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The franchise's TV efforts, however, have always told side-narratives, and Star Wars Rebels is currently crafting many interesting and logical connections between the various films. It was recently leaked that Rogue One's Saw Gerrera would soon show up in Season 3, and it has now been confirmed actor Forest Whitaker is indeed reprising the role for the animated series, and he'll be quite different in his nearly-here debut. Here's how executive producer Dave Filoni put it.
Forest Whitaker came in and played Saw Gerrera in Star Wars Rebels. It was absolutely tremendous. Forest did a great job capturing Saw in a way that he is both a bit mad, a bit crazed, a bit afraid; but also a bit sympathetic. He sees something coming and no one will listen to him to take action before it's too late.
That sounds righteous. By the time we get to meet up with Saw Gerrera in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he's on in years and it's obvious his prime is well behind him. And it's perhaps during Star Wars Rebels' timeframe that we'll get to see him in that prime state again; let's not forget that Saw's origins came during the animated run of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where he soldiered on as an ally of the future Darth Vader. He definitely looks like he's in the mood to kick some ass in Rebels, and without the worry of wheezing all Vader-like afterward.
Dave Feloni told EW that Forest Whitaker was really into the part and took the time to assimilate himself to Saw's backstory, which was put together in collaboration with Rogue One's director Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm's story group chief Kiri Hart. Feloni says that the aim here is to convey the evolution of the character's rebellious philosophy, and not so much dealing out point-by-point explanations of how Saw's various bodily injuries were sustained. That was more Rogue One's angle on storytelling, while Star Wars Rebels has its own thing going.
Saw isn't the only character whose Rebels story fills in some Star Wars franchise blanks, either. Now that we've seen Rogue One, we have a much better grasp on how the previously teased connections to Star Wars Rebels might work. Darth Vader's presence on Disney XD's series has been handled splendidly, and even his story has been expanded through Rebels's animated narrative. (Particularly when it comes to Rogue One, apparently.) We can't wait to see if Saw's story deepens even further as news hits about Star Wars Rebels' future.
Our first adventure with this grittier and more agile version of Saw Gerrera will happen on Star Wars Rebels on Saturday, January 7, on Disney XD. You won't want to miss this. And to make sure you don't miss out on everything else hitting the small screen in the near future, head to our midseason premiere schedule.