There are now 10 official canonical live-action Star Wars movies, but only two of them (2016’s Rogue One and this year’s Solo) lack the numerical “episode” designation, telling stories outside the saga of the familiar Skywalker family. Forest Whitaker played the anti-Empire revolutionary Saw Gerrera in Rogue One, and as he explained to PeopleTV’s Lola Ogunnaike in a recent episode of Couch Surfing, that movie doesn’t just take place outside the usual Star Wars narrative — it also takes place outside the bounds of the usual Star Wars morality.
“I liked playing that character,” Whitaker said. “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?”
This is not the first time Whitaker has considered the implications of Gerrera’s violent tactics. In a 2016 interview with EW ahead of Rogue One‘s release, the actor said his character shared “similarities” with iconic Star Wars villain Darth Vader. Though he was never able to channel the Force himself, Gerrera was closely tied to the fight against the Dark Side and all it entailed.
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“I love that concept of people looking inside themselves — as they say, the Force being with you — or being able to find your eternal power and allowing it to manifest in the world, and recognize the miraculous is possible at any moment,” Whitaker told Ogunnaike in his Couch Surfing interview.
Before Whitaker brought the character to the big screen, Gerrera first appeared in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in which he was voiced by Andrew Kishino. The show celebrated a 10-year anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, where Star Wars animation chief Dave Filoni announced an upcoming revival of the series.
For now, watch Whitaker’s discussion of Gerrera in Rogue One above.