Although in the Star Wars timeline Rogue One is sandwiched between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, most of our rebels are new introductions to the shared universe, each with high standard to maintain. After all this is a franchise that introduced the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Obi-Wan to the world.
Before Rogue One is released, let's get acquainted with some of the new recruits. The lead role belongs to Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) who will join the Rebel Alliance for their mission to destroy the Death Star. Although Darth Vader is set to return to the big screen, the main villain will be Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), an intriguing bad guy who will bring something new to the Star Wars universe. The main Rogue One characters are:
Played by: Felicity Jones
She's the chosen Rogue One character, specially recruited by Mon Mothma to lead the team of rebels. Described as a "delinquent" with a "checkered past" Erso is street-smart and highly skilled, having fought alone since the age of 15. She also has a strong knowledge of the Galactic underworld. According to Rogue One producer Kathleen Kennedy:
"She has been detained [by the Rebellion] and is being given an opportunity to be useful. And by being useful, it may commute her sentence… She’s a real survivor. She becomes a kind of Joan of Arc in the story."
No doubt her recruitment is linked to her father's (Galen Erso) involvement with the Death Star — but more on him later.
Played by: Diego Luna
Cassian is an Intelligence Officer who is located at the Rebel Base at the time when Jyn Erso is recruited to the mission. Known for his ability to handle pressure and maximize resources, Andor is a highly respected officer who has been assigned the task of monitoring Erso, should she step out of line.
He was also responsible for reprogramming the security droid, K-2SO.
Played by: Ben Mendelsohn
Unlike any villain the franchise has seen before, Orson Krennic is a steadfast careerist, hell bent on gaining a good reputation with the Emperor. His role is The Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, and he is tasked with completing the construction of the Death Star at all costs.
He has a dedicated team of Death Troopers who not only protect him, but will form formidable opponents for the Rebel Alliance.
Played by: Donnie Yen
Although the Rogue One is set in a time when many didn't believe in the existence of the Force, Îmwe was an exception, with a staunch belief in the ways of the Jedi. This belief helped him overcome his blindness to become a skilled warrior, and a valuable member of the Rebel Alliance. He is also best friends with fellow rebel, Baze Malbus.
Those who are partial to a spoiler or two can read about a surprise twist with the Rogue One character here.
Played by: Mads Mikkelsen
Initially shrouded in mystery, Mikkelsen's role was confirmed as Galen Erso, the father of Jyn and a genius scientist who has a mysterious link with the Death Star. More on that on our spoilers page, but for now, let's say that he has a delicate relationship with Gyn and he is a "person of interest" with unspecified knowledge of the Death Star.
Played by: Alan Tudyk
A Star Wars movie wouldn't be complete without a droid, but K-2SO is a droid with a difference. Unlike the comic relief supplied by the likes of R2-D2, C-3P0 and BB-8, K-2SO is a much darker. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tudyk said:
"He was a security droid in the Empire and they sort of enforce whatever needs to be enforced. They are imposing. He’s 7-foot-1, and follows orders pretty well. If you’re asked to be detained, he can detain you."
Since his days serving the Empire, K-2SO has been reprogrammed by Andor to serve the rebellion, and is extremely loyal to the pilot.
Played by: Riz Ahmed
A former Imperial pilot, Rook is extremely talented in the air — a skill that will be of great use to the rest of the Rogue One characters— but also struggles emotionally to remain calm in testing situations.
Played by: Jiang Wen
The freelance assassin is a fierce protector of his friend, Chirrut Îmwe. But unlike his ally, he doesn't quite have the same belief in the metaphysical. Part of his lack of faith comes from his tough upbringing on Jedha, a planet that was occupied by the Galactic Empire. His trademark weapon is a form of blaster known as a "heavy repeater canon."
Played by: Forest Whitaker
The inclusion of Saw Gerrera is exciting for a number of reasons. Ultimately, the inclusion of the character who appeared in the animated TV series, Clone Wars, confirms that not only is there a Star Wars cinematic universe, but essentially a shared media universe — take that Marvel!
Gerrera is a key player in Season 5 of the series, a rebel who gets assistance from Jedi to save his planet from separatists. Interestingly, he's a conflicted character who doesn't necessary fit into the term "good" or "evil."
By the time of Rogue One, Gerrera is a veteran of the rebellion. It's still unclear the role he'll play, and whether he'll join Jyn in the attempts to steal the plans. Either way, Whitaker is the perfect actor to bring Gerrera to live-action.
Played by: Genevieve O'Reilly
Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader... All of these names were speculated on to be involved in Rogue One, but the return of Mon Mothma is just as, if not more important.
The leader of the Rebel Alliance first appeared in Return of the Jedi, where she had a small appearance, before her scenes were cut in the prequel Revenge of the Sith. The actress who played her in the latter, Genevieve O'Reilly, returns for Rogue One, where she'll be responsible for recruiting Jyn Erso. Her inclusion in the spin-off makes her one of the most most integral female characters in the series.
Played by: James Earl Jones
He's a character who requires no introduction, and one of the most iconic villains of all time. Perhaps one of the highlights of Rogue One's proximity to A New Hope is the inclusion of Darth Vader, who appears briefly at the end of the second trailer.
While we know that this could be the darkest portrayal of the Sith Lord yet, his role in events haven't been specified. He'll no doubt be breathing (heavily) down the neck of the Rebel Alliance, as well as ensuring Director Krennic keeps in line.
For an in-depth look at the evolution of Darth Vader across the Star Wars franchise, visit our page dedicated to all things Anakin.
Who is your favorite Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie character?