‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’ Character Saw Gerrera Hits The Big Screen In ‘Rogue One’

Forest Whitaker's role in 'Rogue One' has been revealed, and he will bring to life a character already familiar to 'Star Wars' fans.

This week saw a major reveal in the Star Wars universe, as the character details for Rogue One were officially unveiled, and along with them came the revelation that Forest Whitaker will portray Saw Gerrera, an insurgent freedom fighter that fans have met before.

Gerrera was first conceived of by George Lucas for use in Star Wars: Underworld, a live action TV series that never materialized, according to Screencrush. Fans originally met the character, however, during the fifth season of The Clone Wars, when he was a young freedom fighter from the planet Onderon. In that appearance, he was fighting against a Separatist droid army alongside the Jedi, but by the time of Rogue One, Gerrera has apparently gravitated toward the outer fringes of the rebellion.

Just because he opposes the Empire doesn’t mean that Gerrera is implicitly trusted by the Rebel Alliance and its hierarchy, according to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

“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.”

By the time audiences see Gerrera in Rogue One, over two decades have passed since the fall of the Jedi and the rise of Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, as Entertainment Weekly notes. In that span of time, Gerrera has changed, becoming much more battle hardened than the character fans saw fighting alongside Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. First revealed in Rogue One‘s trailer asking Jyn Erso what she will become if she continues to fight, Gerrera is a man who set out to do the right thing, but has been irrevocably changed himself by his decision to use questionable methods against the forces of the Empire.

Disney has already referenced those questionable methods in their new canon, specifically in the novel Star Wars: Bloodline, which takes place midway between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In that book, Leia is confronted by a character that challenges her regarding some of the rebellion’s more brutal tactics, specifically making a reference to “the campaigns of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans.” In this way, Lucasfilm has moved to position the character as the extreme end of the ideological spectrum that makes up the rebellion.

The inclusion of Gerrera marks an interesting turning point, as he is one of the first Star Wars characters to originate in the animated universe of The Clone Wars before making his way into a live action film. Not only was this move a way to incorporate a character originally conceived of by Lucas, but it also serves to highlight that the Star Wars saga is essentially a single story, regardless of what form of media it inhabits, as Lucasfilm’s Dave Filoni pointed out.

“I have always thought of Star Wars: The Clone Wars as an extension of the Star Wars films, and now, here we are, seeing a character come to life in the flesh on the big screen. I think it’s tremendously exciting, because it’s fulfilling a promise to the fans, that this is one story, and the characters you know and love are throughout it, and influencing the story in many ways. I’m so proud of the Rogue One team, and everyone at Lucasfilm. It’s a great day for Star Wars.”

Whatever Gerrera’s full role in the battle against the Empire turns out to be, fans will get a chance to see Forest Whitaker bring the freedom fighter to life on December 16, when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters worldwide.

[Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]