With a premise born from the title card of Star Wars: Episode IV, it’s been clear from the outset that franchise spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would be introducing an all-new cast of characters that we haven’t encountered before. As the first anthology film of the Star Wars universe, Rogue One follows an ensemble of elite fighters from the Rebel Alliance, who are tasked with the mission to steal the blueprints of the Galactic Empire’s new planet-destroying weapon, the Death Star.
We’ve seen the final trailer and even a snippet of action from the film itself, so with the cinematic release just a mere fortnight away on December 16, we’ve prepared this special dossier of the central characters to prime you for one of the most anticipated films of 2016.
As our main protagonist, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) plays a crucial role in the Rebel Alliance’s initiative to steal the Death Star blueprints, in no small part due to the fact that she is the daughter of one of the megaweapon’s main architects, Galen Erso. Cast out on the streets from the age of 15, Jyn survived on the streets as a petty criminal, honing her skills in thievery, forgery and self-defense. Held under Imperial lock and key at the beginning of Rogue One, Mon Mothma of the Alliance organizes to break her out and offers to pardon Jyn for her crimes in return for lending her skills to the cause. Jyn proves herself in the role, in the process becoming the unwitting face of the Rebel cause.
A Rebel captain and veteran intelligence officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) has been described as someone who plays strictly by the book, making him the perfect handler for Jyn Erso to make sure her tempestuous nature doesn’t jeopardize the mission. Andor is also a skilled technician, and is responsible for converting K-2SO to the Rebel cause by reprogramming it.
A picture of zen and spirituality, Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) is a blind warrior-monk who believes deeply in the Force and the way of the Jedi, despite not being able to use it himself. Instead, his strict mental discipline has enabled him to overcome his handicap and retake control of his body, making him an expert in the use of a battle staff and a Bowcaster. A native of the moon of Jedha — which was the original, ancient seat of the Jedi — Chirrut is inseparable from his friend and protector, Baze Malbus, despite their vastly different personas and fighting styles.
Loyal companion and protector of Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) is in many ways the polar opposite of his blind friend. Also hailing from Jedha, Malbus is decidedly more pragmatic in his approach to life and battle, and has little belief in spirituality and the Force. His preferred weapon of choice is a heavy repeater cannon, which he wields with bravado.
Born on the sacred world of Jedha, Bodhi Rook is one of the most experienced pilots in the Rebel forces. Originally conscripted as a cargo pilot for the Empire, Rook eventually defected to join the Alliance. His name translates to “enlightenment” or “awakening” in Buddhism, but he has been described as anything but: according to Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president, Bodhi “tends to be a little tense, a little volatile, but everybody in the group really relies on his technical skills.” He continues to wear the Imperial insignia on his arm to remind himself of his less-than-noble past.
The one character with the most backstory in Rogue One is Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who first appeared in season five of The Clone Wars animated series. A war-weary and battle-hardened veteran of the civil war for independence on the jungle planet of Onderon, Gerrera has lost much through the years in his protracted fight against the Empire, thus strengthening his resolve as a Rebel extremist and borderline terrorist, whose ideals often come into conflict with those of Rebel leaders Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, “He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
As the main antagonist of Rogue One, Lieutenant Commander Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) holds the enviable position of Director of the Empire’s Advanced Weapons Research division. Krennic is in charge of the security for the Death Star project, and has staked his entire reputation on its success to earn the favor of Emperor Palpatine. His pride is his drive and weakness, having made him many enemies on his ascent through the ranks of the Imperial military. However, Krennic is protected by his personal squad of elite Death Troopers.
Originally an Imperial enforcer droid, K-2SO was reprogrammed by Captain Cassian Andor to be his loyal sidekick and an asset to the Rebellion. Known as “Kaytoo” to his comrades, the droid’s design was inspired by the Viper probe droid that we first encountered on the icy tundras of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the IT-O Interrogator droid used by Darth Vader to torture Princess Leia in A New Hope. K-2SO’s movements are animated by actor Alan Tudyk using motion capture technology and then rendered in CGI, allowing the droid’s design to take on more skeletal proportions. While seemingly sinister at first, K-2SO has a charmingly disaffected sense of humor that is sure to win over audiences.