Is Andy Serkis Playing Snoke on ‘Andor’?
The following post contains minor SPOILERS for Andor, but nothing really beyond the fact that Andy Serkis has a role on the show — which has been spoiled in numerous articles already.
With each new episode, the title Andor becomes more and more ironic. This is not a show about one man and his solitary journey to becoming a leader in the Rebel Alliance. Now in the final third of its first season, this Star Wars series follows a veritable galaxy of characters, both Rebels and Imperial officers. The cast includes politicians, resistance fighters, bureaucrats, data collectors, low-level soldiers, financiers, and now jailed inmates, as Andor spends Episode 8, “Narkina 5,” working as prison labor after being captured by the Empire.
The factory on Narkina 5 is run as an elaborate competition, with different parts of the facility racing to be the most productive in order to earn the most perks during their incarceration. (The perks include food with “flavor” and a temporary reprieve from getting zapped with excruciating death rays. Not great perks!) Each sector of the factory has its own manager — and the manager of Andor’s floor is named Kino Loy, played by Andy Serkis. He claims he only has a few days left on his sentence before he is released.
Serkis may be a familiar face to some — he has played Marvel villains like Ulysses Klaue in Black Panther and DC sidekicks like Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman — but he’s best known to Star Wars fans as a voice. He was the motion capture artist who portrayed Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
In those movies, Snoke is depicted as the main villain opposing the forces of good in the Galaxy; the sinister, shadowy leader of the First Order that threatens to destroy the New Republic that stood since the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. But in a surprising moment during The Last Jedi, Snoke is summarily killed by his apprentice, Kylo Ren.
Serkis’ Andor character isn’t referred to as, like “Roger Snoke” or anything like that. But Star Wars fans being as they are, they can’t help but weave elaborate theories in situations like this. We have one man playing two seemingly different characters, Kino Loy and Snoke. After all, once upon a time the same actor, Ian McDiarmid, played Darth Sidious and Senator Palpatine in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and they were, in fact, the same person all along. Andor is set years before the events of The Last Jedi, so it is theoretically possible that this miserable prison manager could somehow survive, escape or get released, then slowly be twisted to the Dark Side so that he eventually becomes the Snoke of the Star Wars sequels? Is Serkis playing the same guy across these various films and shows?
In a word, no.
For one thing, The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Snoke was some sort of cloned being created by the heroes’ true adversary, Emperor Palpatine, who had somehow survived his apparent death in Return of the Jedi and used Snoke as a means to build the First Order and bring Kylo Ren over to the Dark Side.
Even if it’s technically possible for a guy alive and roughly Andy Serkis’ age during the events of Andor to eventually mutate into the creepy form of Snoke about 35 years later, the established continuity behind Snoke makes it all but impossible (or at least deeply illogical) for Kino Loy to also be Supreme Leader Snoke. The former was never some random dude in a prison; odds are he didn’t even exist at this point in Star Wars history because Palpatine hadn’t grown him in a lab yet. And if he had, Palpatine certainly wasn’t shipping his valuable clone off to a prison planet.
While our fan-theory-addled brains might want to smoosh these characters together, Serkis would not be the first person to play multiple characters in the history of Star Wars. Jeremy Bulloch, the first man to portray Boba Fett in live-action form also played Lieutenant Sheckil in The Empire Strikes Back. Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in all nine chapters of the Skywalker Saga has also had brief roles as Lieutenant Dannl Faytonni in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Warwick Davis played the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi, and returned to assume numerous other roles in the Star Wars prequels and sequels, including Anakin Skywalker’s friend Wald and the Rebel fighter Weeteef Cyu-Bee in Rogue One.
No one assumes these characters are connected, nor should they. (Then again, it would be sort of hilarious to read an explanation about how an Ewok became a hairless Rebel warrior.) The difference in those prior examples is the actors were all performing inside various alien or robot suits or makeups, so in most cases their faces weren’t visible. Serkis portrayed Snoke through motion capture technology. But the principles are the same; the mo-cap was the digital equivalent of an elaborate prosthetic mask.
If you don’t believe me, just take Andy Serkis’ word for it, who told Vanity Fair “It's a difficult one because I'm sure that's exactly what people will think [that he’s playing a young Snoke]. And why would they think other?” Instead he insists he’s “getting to play a character at the opposite end of the spectrum of a highly powerful Supreme Leader. [Kino Loy] is someone who is a real person in this world.”
So there you have it. This week’s Andor ends with the title character still trapped on Narkina 5, still working for Serkis’ Kino Loy. But don’t be surprised if next week’s episode features an untimely demise for Mr. Loy, putting these theories to rest once and for all.