We didn’t have to launch a secret mission to learn the identities of the characters in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — thank goodness. They were revealed on Wednesday, and we found out Forest Whitaker is playing a character that fans know from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera.
The character was introduced in the animated series in 2012. With Saw on everyone’s mind, it’s the ideal time to look back at the rebellious character. Here are 10 things you should know about Saw Gerrera:
1. Where You’ve Seen Saw
Saw Gerrera made his debut in Season Five of The Clone Wars. He appeared in four episodes known as the Onderon arc, written by Chris Collins: “A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points.” He displayed guerrilla fighting skills and had a fondness for the rocket launchers brought to Onderon by Hondo Ohnaka.
2. Where You’ve Heard Saw’s Name
Saw is mentioned in the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Honorable Ones.” Agent Kallus talked about a Lasat mercenary who worked for Saw. You also saw (get it?) his name in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline. Ransolm Casterfo touched on the “the campaigns of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans” when discussing Rebel attacks against the Empire in the Galactic War.
And one more thing! In Ultimate Star Wars, Saw’s description states he “later becomes a key figure in the rebellion against the Empire.”
3. His Rebellious Roots
The Onderon arc displayed Saw’s willingness to fight back against oppression. He and other loyalists, including his sister Steela, leaped into action when a false king, King Rash, pledged Onderon to the Separatist cause. They had none of that. We spent time with Saw while Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka trained the loyalists to be more effective fighters, and we experienced Saw’s personality. Saw was often rash, arrogant, and impatient. Brave? Definitely. He was just more about action rather than planning. It will be interesting to see if that tendency has changed over the years. The loss of his sister Steela might have affected that part of his personality.
4. Saw’s Origin
Though Saw appeared in animated form in The Clone Wars, that wasn’t the original plan for him. Appearing on The Star Wars Show, Pablo Hidalgo of Lucasfilm’s Story Group revealed the character’s origin. “He started off before that. George Lucas had him in mind for his live-action TV series that was in development, which ultimately never happened, but he found a place to put Saw into a story in Clone Wars,” Hidalgo said.
5. The Beginning
In some ways, the actions on Onderon mark the early days of the Rebellion. It’s not the Rebel Alliance as we know it (though the red symbol on Onderon armor does tie to the Rebel Alliance starbird), but it’s an organized group fighting back and it’s a direct stepping stone. Voice actor Andrew Kishino played Saw in The Clone Wars and told us about Saw’s role in a 2012 interview: “He has even sort of, embodied in him, that feisty spirit of the Rebellion. The take-no-garbage kind of individual. He’s stoic and strong and brash. He’s that guy, and it’s that kind of strength tempered with Steela’s calm, level-headed thinking, that is, to stand up to something that will ultimately become the Empire, absolutely critical and necessary.”
The Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni told IGN about the importance of the Onderon arc: “While there have been various scenarios in the EU, this is really a story that we were excited about because it was coming straight from George, the idea that there would be pocket groups of rebels around the galaxy that would later kind of form a Rebel Alliance galvanized under Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. It really felt like we were getting to tell an important part of the overall saga.”
6. About That Swagger
As mentioned, Saw possessed a little arrogance and bravado. Kishino said Saw seemed a little like him. With his background in hip-hop, Kishino said he came from a world that was “very gritty and it was real man’s man type stuff.” He interpreted Saw as “the guy, who from that generation, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty or to back down from a fight. And even the very first thing, when he swoops down on that creature and dismounts and walks up, and his chest is out. He’s like, ‘General Skywalker.’ It has that air of, ‘Yeah, I know who you are. But I’m not going to bow to you.’ That was what I wanted to make absolutely sure he had. Where he was like, ‘I’m that guy and you better believe it.'”
7. Onderon History
Saw’s home, Onderon, was a planet brought into canon from Legends-era stories. It first appeared in the Tales of the Jedi comic in 1993. That story took place in the distant past but also featured a civil war. The fight was between those living in the cities and the outcasts leaving in the jungles.
8. A Trying Loss
As mentioned, Saw lost his sister Steela Gerrera at the end of the Onderon arc. He not only witnessed the fall that led to her death, he felt responsible for it — he shot down the gunship that hit Ahsoka’s arm and caused a chain reaction. In 2013, we spoke with Filoni about Steela and her passing. He said, “Steela is a character that George created. We wanted a brother/sister duo on Onderon, and the character Saw was a character that George had already created, and he just wanted to involve and tell a little more about that character.” He added, “I will say this about Steela. When I think of her, I think that she’s one of the biggest regrets I have this season, which is I wish we hadn’t killed her. We all ended up liking that character very much. I thought she was very successful.”
9. A First
Saw Gerrera is the first character to make the transition from an animated Star Wars series to a live-action Star Wars film.
10. Going to Extremes
How have the years fighting against the Empire shaped Saw? We heard him in the Rogue One trailer saying, “If you continue to fight, what will you become?” I gather he’s become a bit of a wild card. Again, on The Star Wars Show, Hidalgo said about Saw, “He’s an extreme Rebel. He’s definitely against the Empire, but he does things that morally push against the kind of things that Bail Organa and Mon Mothma stand for. He’s definitely the more extreme side of the Rebel Alliance.”
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly, “He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek.