Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) of the Imperial Security Bureau will menace Jyn Erso and her squad of Rebel heroes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in just a few weeks. But Krennic isn’t just your average scowling Imperial. As described by director Gareth Edwards, Krennic is “more working-class,” someone who has come to power “through sheer force of personality and ideas.”
Krennic is a man of ideas. Before he was a card-carrying member of the Empire, he was an up-and-coming architect working his way into the upper crust of the dying Republic. Now he’s the force behind the construction of the Death Star, the Empire’s most dangerous superweapon.Where did Director Krennic come from, and what drives him? The tie-in novel Catalyst: A Star Wars Story brings us some answers:
Krennic Wants to Be in Palpatine’s Inner Circle
Krennic wants to ingratiate himself into Chancellor Palpatine’s inner circle. When the chancellor becomes an emperor, he continues those efforts. Krennic is careful not to let his manipulations show, though. He doesn’t want anyone to be able to tell that Krennic was instrumental in convincing Galen Erso to join the war effort until the plan is complete, even though doing so is critical to bolstering Krennic’s own importance.
Krennic Was Originally an Architect for the Republic
Krennic didn’t start out in the military. He was a well-regarded architect before the war, designing notable buildings on Coruscant, the Republic Center for Military Operations included. His more duplicitous career began with an involuntary transfer from high up in the Republic echelon, moving him from the Corps of Engineers to the Special Weapons Group. He sees the Death Star battle station as an impressively ambitious project, but he didn’t design it – the plans were acquired by Palpatine himself.
Krennic Has a Keen Ability to “Read” People
Krennic could read people, and sometimes predict their actions. With his fine-tuned reading of Chancellor Palpatine’s aid Mas Amedda, Krennic knew just how Palpatine’s advisor was feeling, what Mas Amedda might do next, and how Krennic was faring in his climb up the nascent Imperial ladder.
Krennic’s White Uniform Is Worn by Intelligence & Security Officers
Krennic made sure to present himself as dignified and fashionable as he worked his way up the ranks of the cruel and the corrupt. His white tunic is typical of security or intelligence personnel in the Republic and, later, the Empire. The white uniform was first seen in A New Hope, worn by Wullf Yularen, Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence Agency.
Krennic & Galen Erso Are “Old Friends”
In school, Erso and Krennic were friends despite their vastly different demeanors. Krennic found Erso’s absent-minded genius “fascinating,” and Krennic sometimes protected his quieter counterpart when he got into fights. Whether those were bar room brawls or academic discussions turned violent we don’t really know, but Krennic was always willing to protect Erso, in part because Krennic liked learning how to organize people into effective teams for his own gain. Krennic was always surprised that the relationship between Galen Erso and Lyra worked out.
While he is committed whole-heartedly to manipulating Galen into his project, Krennic does sometimes feel a paternalistic fondness for him, or a desire for a confidante whom Krennic can impress: he feels “a raw desire to tell Galen Erso that this was all a sham, to load that datapad of Erso’s with the schematic of the battle station and show him what he was really in charge of.”
Krennic & Grand Moff Tarkin Are Imperial Rivals
One person who Krennic isn’t so buddy-buddy with is Wilhuff Tarkin. We know that Tarkin is going to be in Rogue One, and it seems likely that Krennic might clash with him, since they were rivals during the building of the Death Star.
Orson Krennic knew Wilhuff Tarkin before the Empire began – and didn’t like him very much. Tarkin and Krennic’s positions as respected governor and respected engineer meant that they were poised to compete for the attention of the Empire. Krennic first met Tarkin when Tarkin was a governor, but they didn’t work together much afterward, and Krennic doesn’t want to compete with him for Palpatine’s favor. In fact, one of the reasons he wants to recruit Galen is to show that he’s too valuable to take orders from Tarkin.
Krennic Feels “Fulfilled” by His Work on the Death Star
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether Krennic is sincere or saying what his audience wants him to hear. One of Krennic’s most revealing moments in Catalyst comes as he is manipulating Galen into doing his bidding. While talking about Krennic’s personal goals, Galen suggests that Krennic never wanted to have a family. Instead, Krennic expresses skepticism at the idea of himself as a father, and says that “I stumbled onto something I’m good at, so I’m fulfilled in that sense.”
Krennic Acquired Kyber Crystals for the Death Star After Order 66
Krennic is willing to profit off of even the darkest slaughter in the Empire. The Jedi kyber crystals he acquires come into his hands soon after Order 66, and many Geonosians die in the course of the Death Star’s construction. Krennic is a cold opportunist who sees business before he sees the lives in front of him. He manufactures a friendship with the Ersos, but actual empathy isn’t in his playbook.
Krennic Keeps the Death Star Plans Very Close to His Chest
Krennic makes sure every one of his confederates is working efficiently as part of the precarious web of setups his project requires. Most of his employees know only part of what they’re working on. The strategy serves him well in keeping people from putting the pieces together about the Death Star project, even while scientists like Galen are literally putting the pieces of the Death Star together.
Krennic Is a Flawed Genius
“Pride is an overvalued quality,” Krennic tells the smuggler Has Obitt, but it seems to be an arch declaration of Krennic’s own education as it is a slightly backhanded compliment to the repentant Obitt.
Despite his genius, Krennic isn’t perfect, and it’s the earthy Obitt who corrects him first. When they put a mission together to a world with a methane atmosphere, Krennic forgets at first that he’ll need a breath mask to breathe there. Has also corrects him on some of the logistics of the mission. He also picks up the Geonosian language but has some trouble with the pronunciation.
Krennic Is Responsible for the Death Toll on Geonosis During the Death Star Construction
Krennic isn’t particularly xenophobic, but he uses his knowledge of alien cultures to manipulate the people around him. He’s willing to work humans and aliens to the ground in equal measure. When negotiating with the Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser (the same one seen in Attack of the Clones), Krennic manipulates Poggle by conjuring fearful scenarios of a murderous workforce of uneasy Geonosians. He doesn’t mind the death toll that results from both the aliens’ stressed infighting and the Death Star superstructure itself.
Check out Catalyst to find out exactly how Krennic manipulated the Ersos. It’s yet to be seen how much Jyn learns about her family in Rogue One, but we know she’ll face this cold, manipulative foe – and may or may not live to tell about it.
Megan Crouse is a staff writer.