This Star Wars: Andor article contains spoilers.
Andy Serkis has been a genre mainstay for decades, portraying characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, Alfred in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Ulysses Klaue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Supreme Leader Snoke in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. And Andor just added a second Star Wars credit to the actor’s filmography.
Until Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) cut his character in half with a lightsaber in The Last Jedi, Serkis provided the motion capture and voice of the mysterious Snoke, Supreme Leader of the First Order and the unknowing puppet paving the way for Emperor Palpatine’s eventual return in The Rise of Skywalker. Since Serkis had already appeared in such a prominent role in the Star Wars universe, it was surprising to see him pop back up in Andor episode 8 but as a completely different character. Meet the very grumpy Kino Loy.
Like poor Keef Girgo, aka Cassian Andor, Kino Loy is a prisoner being held by the Empire on Narkina 5, a labor camp where they must work on non-descript machinery until their sentence is up. We learn in the episode that Kino is in charge of Unit Five-Two-D, where the prisoners work twelve hour shifts, competing against each other. The team that produces the most wins taste in their food and the team that produces the least is punished with jolts of electricity.
When Vanity Fair asked him about returning to the Star Wars universe in an entirely new role, Serkis said, “I was a bit confused as to whether to do it or not, but it was purely because I love Rogue One. I truly loved the grounding of that film in a world which felt both real and yet still felt epic.”
Following in the footsteps of that Star Wars standalone movie, Kino Loy certainly seems to be more grounded than Serkis’ Snoke. Even though Kino’s backstory hasn’t yet been fleshed out or defined on screen, Serkis told Vanity Fair that he’s thought extensively about where his new character comes from. According to Serkis, Kino used to be a union leader, saying that “he’s used to working as a foreman. I wanted him to come from a place where he was put in prison for, perhaps, standing up for workers’ rights, and then put into a position of authority because that’s what he does. He is a natural leader. But he really just wants to serve his time. He’s got a family. He wants to get out and get back, and assumes that that’s going to happen after his incarceration.”
In the fascistic Empire, it’s no surprise that a union leader would end up imprisoned. Based on what we’ve seen in Andor and other Star Wars fare, workers’ rights and fair treatment clearly aren’t the Empire’s concern, and any form of organizing is likely to be seen as a threat. It will be interesting to see how Kino and Cassian interact with each other going forward. Kino’s time is almost up, and he’s been playing the “good prisoner” role for a while whereas Cassian’s time has just begun and he’s anxious to escape.
Star Wars: Andor is streaming now on Disney+.