By Josh Reilly B. and George Bate
The HoloFiles and Star Wars Holocron recently had the opportunity to interview Diego Luna in a roundtable format as part of the press tour for the latest Star Wars series Andor.
Luna returns to a galaxy far, far away after his memorable and compelling performance in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As fans will remember, Rebel hero Cassian Andor sacrificed himself for the cause at the end of that movie, and many thought that was it in terms of the character’s story. However, with Andor, Luna returns to give his character some significant back story as well as showing the inner-workings of the Rebellion and the Empire.
Cassian was a mysterious figure right up till the very end in Rogue One in that little was shared about his past. Because of that, Luna has spoken in the past that he created a fictional biography and history for his character during the filming of that movie, but one that is very different from the actual events of Andor and where the character is at the start.
“In terms of the specifics, my story is not at all similar to Tony Gilroy’s. And gladly! Probably because the story would be boring would be mine and the writing of Tony Gilroy is so intense and interesting. I had to ask myself these questions too, like what does he mean when he says he’s been in this fight since he was six years old? What is that dark past? What are these terrible things he’s done for the Rebellion? Tonally, it does connect with Tony’s ideas. The building of this back story is so perfect. He writes such rich material full of tiny layers that make a complex structure. I really like his writing and view on this show.”
Cassian’s sacrifice, and his character more broadly, in the 2016 film was so emotionally resonant with audiences that fans immediately began wondering if there was any way Luna could return to the franchise. The Mexican actor explained why Cassian is so compelling and why this is a story worth telling.
“What he does in Rogue One, sacrificing himself, is something that not many do. So that makes it interesting and unique. It makes them all unique, the whole team. But we’re gonna find out in Andor that he was really far away from that person in the beginning. It’s like you or me, it’s a story about real people that you can understand their journey. When we find Cassian, he’s just trying to survive. He carries a lot of pain and he has no hope to become someone he can be proud of. The journey and the awakening of the revolutionary is something that can be very interesting to witness.”
Just as the prequel trilogy in the main Skywalker saga of the franchise vastly changed the way in which audiences watch the original three films, Luna stated that Andor will do the same for Rogue One.
“I do think that you’re gonna watch Rogue One with different eyes after Andor. You’re gonna understand the characters in a different way. You’re gonna see stuff you weren’t seeing before. Rogue One is about an event but you don’t get to know much about the characters. It’s more about what they’re capable of doing when they work together as a team. But you’re gonna understand what he’s talking about and what life was like for the people to become part of change, to articulate something in a community, to fight the Empire. Andor is gonna show what their lives were like, how difficult it was, how little freedom there was, how marginalized society was. You’re also gonna learn a lot about the people working for the Empire because this show also tells their stories. So you’ll get to tell see stories too.”
Luna is credited as an executive producer on Andor and, as such, is more involved creatively than he was on Rogue One. This includes with the music, but as Luna notes, writer Tony Gilroy took charge of that aspect of the show, so much so that scores were composed before filming began.
“I have to say that I witnessed the process of the music being made. Always impressed by what was happening. Tony Gilroy is quite an interesting leader. He thinks of everything before you’re even shooting. There is one scene, I won’t tell you which scene because of spoilers, but there was a piece of music that was created before we even shot the scene where that music was part of the score. There is this piece of music that matters so much in an episode that it existed before we even started shooting. I was on set getting ready to film and I could hear it. I could hear it when I was shooting the scene too. Tony writes and when he writes he needs to know the space where the scene happens.”
Rogue One was constantly in flux during the production of the film, with Tony Gilroy adding elements and taking some things away in order to make the title as good as it could possibly be. It’s safe to say that worked out well, especially as Rogue One is one of the most iconic Star Wars films to date, but Luna stated that Andor hasn’t changed much from its conception.
“I don’t think much has changed, but there is something that happens. There’s an idea and then someone comes in, and their opinion matters, and they shape the project in a different way. And then we work with a production designer, for example, even the scenes change because they’re gonna happen in a different place. Then the casting happens and you end up casting an amazing actor and you go ‘wow, that’s the character!’. That process happens more in a series than a film. A film is like a machine that doesn’t stop. But what I can tell you is that the energy, the vision, it’s been one since the start. Since we started preproduction on this.”
Luna, as wholesome as ever, then discussed his two children and their experiences with Star Wars.
“It’s different. My daughter is much more into it now. She was too young and the film was too challenging for her. My son loves the ideas and is very excited. It was nice with the series to have the chance to share much more with them. When I was shooting Rogue One, I had to keep a lot to myself. I was also nervous and it felt like I had to be concentrated on the film. It felt that I was thrown into a vehicle that was already moving. But on Andor, I’m a producer, so I’ve been working on this show for four years. So I’ve explained things, talked with them, and had the chance to share things with them. At the end of the day, I’m doing this for my kids. I’m glad for that.”
Andor premieres on Disney+ on September 21st.