|Star Wars character|
|First appearance||Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019)|
|Created by||Respawn Entertainment|
|Portrayed by||Cameron Monaghan|
Cal Kestis is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. He is the player character and main protagonist of the 2019 video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, an action-adventure game developed by Respawn Entertainment. Within the series, Cal is a former Jedi Padawan who survived the Great Jedi Purge and went into hiding. Years later, he is detected using the Force and is then led on a journey to rebuild the Jedi Order. He is portrayed through performance capture by American actor and model Cameron Monaghan.
Cal has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising for his characterization and the voice performance of Monaghan, but criticism for his "boring" visual design from various sources.
Development and design
Monaghan provides both the voice and likeness for Cal's character, including his natural red hair. On playing the part of Cal, he said "It's pretty surreal to see a character that you built and got to explore and imagine. It's a character that I've really grown to love." He also stated, "It's such a privilege to be able to play something that has a storied history behind it, but also something that I'm a fan of and have always wanted to be part of since I was a kid." The actor "didn't want to model Cal on any specific Star Wars character", adding "I wanted Cal's personality and demeanor and everything to come out of his own experiences and his own stories, and to build it from an inward place."
During his audition process for the game, Monaghan wasn't told that he was auditioning for a Star Wars game. "At that point I didn't know I was auditioning for a Star Wars game, but I kinda knew. They made these fake audition pages and stuff, and I was kinda reading it like 'hmmm... This is Star Wars, isn't it?' They were like 'No, of course not.' So when I got into the room and they gave me the toy lightsaber, I was like 'I knew it!" Before the developers knew who Cal Kestis was going to be, there were several different concepts. The director of the game, Stig Asmussen revealed "We talked about doing an alien character, we talked about doing a different gender, but we arrived at where we were because at the time, Rey was kind of the thing for Star Wars, so it made a lot more sense for us to have a male protagonist."
Cal Kestis was a Jedi Padawan during the Clone Wars, training under Jedi General Jaro Tapal (Travis Willingham). After a successful mission, Cal, his Master, and their troops prepare to leave for Mygeeto when Supreme Chancellor Palpatine initiated Order 66, turning all the clone troops against the Jedi, including Kestis and Tapal. Tapal, able to sense the betrayal of his troops, killed the clone preparing to shoot him. The duo make their way to the escape pods with Kestis sneaking through the pipes while Tapal sabotages the ship's reactor. Cal made it to the escape pods with his master despite losing his lightsaber. As they were entering the escape pods, Tapal was fatally shot by one of the troopers and died advising his pupil to stay true to the Jedi. Cal kept his Master's lightsaber but was heavily traumatized by this event.
Age of the Empire
Five years after Order 66, Cal is in hiding on the planet Bracca, working as a rigger for the Scrapper Guild. After an accident causes Cal's friend, Prauf (JB Blanc) to fall, Cal saves his life using the force and is spotted by an Imperial Probe droid. Two Inquisitors, the Second Sister (Elizabeth Grullon) and the Ninth Sister (Misty Lee) are sent by Darth Vader (Scott Lawrence) to investigate. The Inquisitors order all workers to line up and advise them to give up the Jedi. Prauf steps forward and rants to the Inquisitors about the Empire's rule while trying to protect Cal. The Second Sister then murders Prauf making Cal ignite his lightsaber and attack her revealing himself as the Jedi. He was suspended in midair by the Ninth Sister but managed to free himself and landed on a train. The Inquisitors chased after him but Cal was narrowly rescued by Cere Junda (Debra Wilson), A former Jedi, and Greez Dritus (Daniel Roebuck) a pilot and owner of the ship, The Stinger Mantis.
Cere revealed that the trio need to travel to the planet Bogano to obtain a Jedi Holocron which has a list of Force-sensitive children all across the galaxy. However Cere cannot retrieve the Holocron as she had cut off her connection to the force so Cal would have to get it. On the Planet, Cal befriends a droid, BD-1 (Ben Burtt), who shows him a message of former Jedi Master Eno Cordova (Tony Amendola), Cere's former master. Cordova tells Cal of the Holocron and of an ancient civilization called the Zeffo, that built the vault and the only way to open the vault is to follow Cordova's path. Cal and the crew of the Mantis then head to Zeffo, an Imperial occupied planet which was the base for the failed "Project Auger" which was set up to mine for ancient artifacts. Cal makes his way to the first Zeffo Tomb, the Tomb of Eilram. In the Tomb, BD-1 plays another recording of Cordova's which tells him to go to the Wookiee planet Kashyyk and find the Wookiee Chieftain Tarfful. On the journey to Kashyyk, Cere explains what happened to her and her Padawan Trilla, claiming that her Padawan and a group of young Padawans went missing or died.
Once the crew arrive at Kashyyk, they find an imperial blockade with Star Destroyers around the planet. The Empire is in a conflict with an extremist group of Rebels led by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Greez gets through the blockade but cannot land nearby to where the Wookiee is thought to be. Cal hijacks an AT-AT which impresses Gerrera leading to him asking Cal for help liberating a refinery with the possibility that Tarfful will be there. Cal and BD-1 agree to help. After liberating the Wookiee slaves, they are unable to find Tarfful and Cal leaves Kashyyk in the hands of Gerrera.
Cal returns to Zeffo looking for the recently discovered Tomb of Miktrull but it was an ambush set by the Second Sister. The two fight and the Second Sister reveals herself to be Trilla, Junda's former Padawan. She explains how Cere was tortured by the Empire into giving up the location of Trilla and the other Padawans resulting in them either being killed or turned into Inquisitors like herself. The Second Sister gets the upper hand in the fight and almost kills him but BD-1 manages to activate an impenetrable laser barrier in between both of them. Cal escaped into the tomb but was unable to call Cere or the crew as the Second Sister had cut off his communications, using it to taunt him. He managed to escape her and found another one of Cordova's recordings, which told Cal that the key to the vault was a device called the Astrium. Before he got back to the Mantis, Cal was captured by a bounty hunter. Cal woke up imprisoned with BD-1 missing. He was forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena owned by Sorc Tormo against a number of different creatures and the bounty hunter that captured him in retaliation for Greez not paying his gambling debts. Cal and BD-1 was rescued by Greez and Cere with the crime lord threatening to have his syndicate chase him across the galaxy. The crew weren't happy to see each other as Cal cquestioned Cere about Trilla and Greez about the gambling debts. The argument was cut short as they found out where Tarfful was and set off to meet him.
Back on Kashyyk, they found the bodies of the rebels and learned that Gerrera had left the planet. They meet with Tarfful who instructs Cal to search the top of the Origin Tree. At the top of the tree, He finds another one of Cordova's recordings revealing the Astriums location on Dathomir shortly before being attacked by the Ninth Sister. Cal wins the battle by slicing the Ninth Sister's hand off and pushing her off the edge of the tree. The crew then travel to Dathomir in search of the Astrium. They land on the planet and Cal and BD-1 are confronted by Nightsister Merrin (Tina Ivlev) who warns him to leave and then sends her Nightbrothers to kill him. After escaping the threat they find a wanderer called Taron Malicos (Liam McIntyre) who claimed to be searching Zeffo ruins. Cal and BD-1 are ambushed by more Nightbrothers and although they defeat them, they were forced to wander through the dangerous Dathomrian swamps. After experiencing a flashback of his former master sacrificing himself to protect him during Order 66, Cal's lightsaber is destroyed. They find Taron Malicos again and he reveals himself to be a Dark Jedi who crash landed on the planet during the Purge and has overtime growing more insane and succumbing to the dark side of the force. He offers to teach Cal dark power but Cal refuses and flees when Merrin attacks them both.
Cal traveled to Ilum to build a new lightsaber under the instructions of Cere who also gifted Cal her lightsaber hilt. While on the planet, the ice underneath Cal and BD-1 shattered sending Cal into the icy water before being saved by a vision of his young self. However, the crystal that he retrieved had snapped in half leaving the Padawan feeling broken and defeated. BD-1 plays a hidden recording by Cordova where he reveals that he had trusted the droid to find someone trustworthy and lead them to the Holocron. The message inspires Cal to build a double bladed lightsaber using the two parts of the crystal and returns to Dathomir. He finds the Astrium, and overcomes his guilt over the death of his master. Cal faces Malicos with Merrin's aid and convinces her to join the Mantis crew. They travel back to Bogano so Cal can unlock the vault but the Second Sister attacks him and manages to steal the Holocron. Cere then reassumed her status as a Jedi and made Cal a Jedi Knight.
Cere tells Cal that she believes that the Second Sister has taken the Holocron to the Fortress Inquisitorius on Mustafar's oceanic moon Nur. Cere defeats her old Padawan in combat and manages to convince her to let go of her hate. The Second Sister senses Darth Vader behind her and realizing she was about to die, screamed out "Avenge us" before Vader murdered her. Cere and Cal ignite their lightsabers and Cere charges the Dark Lord where he easily throws her down a chasm seemingly to her death, Vader then focused his attention on Cal, advising the Padawan that he would be wise to surrender. Cal agreed but refused to back down. Vader overpowered Cal and almost managed to kill him before Cal threw a piece of machinery on top of him. Vader then threw the machinery to the side and thrust Cal out of the room. Cal decided to run to the turbolift in order to escape. However, when he got out of the turbolift, Vader was waiting for him and overpowered him. BD-1 stunned Vader allowing Cal to stab him. Vader managed to stop the blade from going into his stomach and force pushed Cal away. Vader then sent Cal's lightsaber to him stabbing him in the ribs. Before the Sith Lord could strike, Cere rushed in and distracted Vader to save Cal by drawing on the dark side. Vader noticed this and tried to seduce her to the dark side but Cal was able to prevent her from fully turning. Cal then shattered glass to let the water in flooding the room and giving Cere, Cal and BD-1 time to escape.
On board the Mantis, Cal destroyed the Holocron, in case the Empire ever found it, protecting all those on the list and letting the force determine what happens. He then asks where they should go next.
The character of Cal Kestis received generally positive reviews, with some expressing dissatisfaction that the final design of the character was "generic" or "dorky". Elijah Beahm from The Escapist criticized the depiction of Cal's reactions to the deaths of various characters and argued that it makes him unsympathetic as a heroic protagonist. Conversely, Nick Calandra from The Escapist defended Cal Kestis, saying "Cal learning to control his emotions and work through his trauma provides an infinitely more interesting character than he would have been had he just “followed” the Jedi way without truly understanding what it means. Once Cal finally stops fighting the past, sheathes his lightsaber, and promises to honor the teachings of his former master, only then does he become knighted as a Jedi."
Alani Vargas from CheatSheet also stated that Cal Kestis is a great choice for the main character. Some reviewers noted that while he doesn't start off strong, the good writing, interesting cast of supporting characters and the entertaining story help the player connect with Cal.  The actor experienced bullying over his red hair, with people making mods just to change the colour of Cal's hair, and spoke out against them.
In 2020, Cal Kestis ranked 50th place in a "Best Star Wars character of All Time" fan poll organized by IGN.
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- Cal Kestis in the StarWars.com Databank