Why Andor’s Luthen Looks So Much Like Emperor Palpatine

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Andor episode 4.Stellan Skarsgard’s Andor character, Luthen Rael, plays a crucial role in Cassian’s recruitment to the Rebels, but viewers may also find that he looks like one of the Star Wars franchise’s greatest villains. Especially in his civilian persona as an aristocratic art dealer, Luthen dresses and styles himself similarly to Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. This resemblance suggests Luthen’s desire to blend into the Empire, but it also may contain a hint as to the Andor character’s role in the larger story to come.

First appearing in Andor season 1, episode 2, « That Would Be Me, » Luthen Rael poses as a client of Cassian (Diego Luna) looking to purchase a Starpath unit. He soon reveals his true intentions, however, to recruit Cassian to the fractious Rebels. In Andor season 1, episode 4, « Aldhani, » Luthen delivers Andor to a resistance cell and then returns to the other side of his double life, as an art dealer living on the planet-city of Coruscant.

Luthen alters his appearance when adopting his art dealer persona, putting on a wig, dark purple robes, and several rings, as well as changing the way he walks and smiles. In this disguise, Luthen ends up looking like a pre-scarring Emperor Palpatine, with his parted white hair, baggy robes, and limp. The two characters aren’t exactly dead ringers for each other, but the similarity is close enough to raise the question of what this similarity means and whether it is intentional on the part of Luthen as a character and/or Andor as a series.

Andor’s Luthen Rael isn’t literally trying to pass for the Sith Lord Palpatine, but the similarity is part of how he disguises himself as a loyal Imperial subject. What better way to make yourself look allegiant than by mimicking the appearance of the Emperor? By playing up his limp and making himself appear older and frailer than he really is, Luthen also influences people to underestimate him.

The similar appearance may also be Andor’s way of foreshadowing Luthen’s future. In the Star Wars prequels, Palpatine initially appears as a wise mentor figure to Anakin Skywalker, but he actually means to corrupt the young Jedi and turn him to the Dark Side. Luthen is a kind of mentor to Cassian, pulling him from a self-centered attempt to survive on the fringes of the Empire to political rebellion. The similarity to Palpatine may suggest that Luthen ultimately has darker intentions and could even end up being Andor’s core villain.

This isn’t the first time Palpatine has had a double. In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it’s revealed that the Emperor created several clones of himself, with one of them ultimately siring Rey. It’s unlikely that the very grounded Andor would include a plot twist like Luthen being one of Palpatine’s clones, especially given the negative response to this plot in The Rise of Skywalker. But it wouldn’t contradict established canon, and if planned, having Luthen dress and style himself similar to Palpatine could be a great way to hint toward it. Luthen looking like Palpatine may simply be symbolic of his desire to blend in on Coruscant, but it could also be foreshadowing what the future holds for the mysterious Andor character.

New episodes of Andor release on Wednesdays on Disney+.