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Premiering exclusively on Disney+ September 21st, is Andor–the prequel to Rogue One, which is itself the prequel to A New Hope.
Set five years prior to the events of Rogue One, Andor follows the path of Cassian Andor as circumstances mold him into the consummate spy/warrior the Rebellion desperately needs. The first season of twelve episodes covers the first year of the interval, and the second season of twelve will finish the rest of the four years.
To discuss the process of revisiting the galaxy of Star Wars during a time of fomenting rebellion, Andor filmmakers Diego Luna (“Cassian Andor” and Executive Producer,) Genevieve O’Reilly (“Mon Mothma,”) Kyle Soller (“Syril Karn,”) Denise Gough (“Dedra Meero,”) Adria Arjona (“Bix Caleen,”) and Tony Gilroy(Executive Producer / Writer / Showrunner) came together for a virtual press conference.
Andor Press Conference highlights:
On starting up the project:
Gilroy: “I think the main idea, is we have a character in Rogue One, and we know where he ends up and we know how accomplished and complicated he is. The idea that we can do a story that takes him literally from his childhood origins and walk him through a five-year history of an odyssey that takes him to that place, during a revolution, during a moment in history in a place where huge events are happening and real people are being crushed by it–the fact that we could follow somebody as an example of a revolution all the way through to the end, that was the walk-in for me.”
On revisiting old characters:
Luna: “First of all, just the chance to be back working with this family, getting to do more stuff with Tony, who is someone I admire, and I love his company…collaborating with him is amazing. So just being back felt great.
“But I think Rogue One is a film about an event, you know? You don’t get to know those characters. You don’t get to understand exactly where they come from, what needed to happen. For me, it’s quite relevant today to tell the story of what needs to happen for a revolutionary to emerge, to exist, to come to life, you know. What gives meaning in the life of someone to be willing to sacrifice everything for a cause? What needs to happen? That journey matters to me. The character says stuff that haunts me in Rogue One. You know that he started to fight since he was six years old. What does that mean, exactly? You know, why a six-year-old would miss his childhood and start a fight? That, to me, is really interesting to know. He talks about a dark past. He talks about doing terrible stuff for the Rebellion. What is he referring to? I think that story matters. That story is interesting. And there is a lot of material there for us to play. So I was really excited to be able to go into that journey and give those answers you know?”
O’Reilly: “You know…we’ve met Mon Mothma before in different iterations, in different versions of the Star Wars storytelling. And each time we’ve met her, we’ve met this kind of composed, regal, dignified woman who often…like with Cassian in Rogue One, she is to send people out on a mission.
“I think what’s extraordinary about how Tony has written Andor and where he has chosen to begin this story is so very different to where we find Mon Mothma in Rogue One. She is still that very dignified senator, but for the first time, we get to see the woman behind the role. We get to see a private face of Mon Mothma. We get to flesh out not just the senator, not just the would-be leader of a Rebel Alliance, but also the woman.
“We meet a woman steeped in Empire, navigating a very male-dominated Empire with a very powerful Emperor Palpatine at the top of it. Previously, in Rogue One or at other times, we’ve seen her surrounded by…people with different opinions but with like-minded Rebels.
“We find her in Andor very alone, living in a world of orthodoxy and construct. We see a woman who has had to navigate her ideals and her beliefs within systems of oppression, and so, we find her in a place we’ve never seen her before. We find her in a bit of a gilded cage, and so, what I’m excited for, is for us to travel that story with her.”
On introducing new characters:
Arjona: “Well, I liked a lot of things about Bix. I think she’s fearless. She’s bold, yet really deep inside, she’s incredibly loyal and compassionate and cares a little too much for the people around her, and I think that’s sometimes at her own detriment. I think this boldness and powerful thing is sort of like a facade that she puts on for… She almost puts that as a show. But deep down, she cares deeply about the people around her, and I think that’s the part that I love the most about Bix.”
Gough: “So Dedra is an ISP officer. When we meet her, she’s at the kind of low end of the ladder. She’s incredibly ambitious and meticulous. What I love about playing her is that, you know, she’s in this very male-dominated world and she’s seeing around her the way that people are missing what she can see is happening.
“We’ve been talking a lot about this today, both about Dedra and Syril and how they come into this world–they’re sort of outsiders within the ISB, so yes, she’s clawing her way up the ladder. I love portraying the effect that power just has on a person, like the danger of that pursuit of power and control, regardless of gender.
“I mean, I do kind of love that you’re thinking ‘oh, go girl!’ And then you remember, she’s in a fascist organization.”
Soller: “Well, what attracted me to the role was Tony’s writing. He had created a character that was really three-dimensional and had a big question mark over him…he could kind of go either way. He could go into the Empire. He could go into the Rebel Alliance. He’s got a lot of gray areas, and he came from a place of such lack and such pain in his home life, that he’s trying to fill this void within himself through the fascist, corporate, bureaucratic structure, where he finds order. He finds a place to be seen if he can supersede his station and climb those ranks.”
On what Cassian represents:
Luna: “How far can someone be from learning he could be a tool of change? How far can you be from that and still find your way into acknowledging that you are capable of big stuff, you know? I think it was that: It was like, how far can we find Cassian? You see the guy in the first episode and you don’t see any possibility of that happening, you know. That, to me, gives me hope in the world we live in.
“If that’s possible, anyone can do something. We can all find what we are capable of and it’s about the reference, it’s about what we find and the people we meet in our journey. I always thought of him as a character that has been forced to move therefore he brings a pain that he’s carrying that is making him very cynical about life, you know.
“Exploring that person and then finding a way to get the clarity of someone that suddenly starts believing, that goes through a process of acknowledging that articulating something in community can give you enough strength to be useful and to bring change, you know. I thought that story matters too much.
It’s a story I would like to tell to my kids, to my friends. It’s a story I would like to see as an audience. Again, that’s why we have to be so real because it doesn’t matter that we pretend to be in a galaxy far, far away. This story matters today in the world we live in, you know. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care and I always saw this potential in this story.”
On getting back into the saddle:
Luna: “Oof, yeah…probably this was like the first or second day that I arrived to Pinewood at the very beginning when we were in preproduction, and I go to the stunts, where they have an amazing facility and stuff for you to climb and to jump and to, you know, fall and roll.
“And I go like, ‘Let’s do a very simple one. I need to get back into this.’ And I pretend I was 10 years younger, you know, than what I had to play in this show. And the next morning, I was like, shit, I’m gonna have to quit this job. I can’t handle this anymore. Like every part of my body ached, and I felt like I went into a battle, and it was just the first rehearsal, you know? And I was talking to my family, saying I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this. No one’s gonna believe, I mean, I’m gonna have to spend the first two months in a chair, you know?
“Clearly, time passed, and gladly, there was a fantastic stuntman that helped me and managed to do all the stuff I can’t do anymore.”
On diversity and representation in casting:
Luna: “I think the industry is reacting to some things happening out there, you know? We’re supposed to be a mirror for audiences to be able to see themselves, and I think with the platforms and these new ways to connect with audiences, I think audiences are sending the right messages. And the industry is reacting. I think when you buy a ticket, you send a message. When you don’t buy it, you also send a message. When you click, you send a message. When you don’t, you send a message. And the industry will respond to that and it’s responding.
“I think it makes sense if we’re talking about a galaxy where there are so many planets that people come from different places. And if we’re talking about refugees, they come from different places and they gather in one place and they sound different, they look different. That diversity, I mean, it’s what makes this, the reality I live in, very rich, you know? So I mean, I celebrate that the stories we see reflect on that.”
On how Andor stands out from the rest of Star Wars:
Luna: “Well, first of all, this one is written by Tony Gilroy, which makes it very special and I’ll tell you why: Tony’s not a writer that lives in the language of right and wrong, you know? Or like black and white. He spends of his time in the complexity of the gray areas. In the contradictions of characters. That’s where I think this real thing comes out of, because it’s full of that experience of just being someone trying to live your life and having to make choices.
“And this is a show about people, about real people, you know? It’s very dark times in the galaxy, there are no Jedis around, these people having to articulate a reaction to oppression and it’s the most grounded kind of Star Wars you’ll get. It is a show about us, it is a show about these people finding the strength to come up with a reaction, to change and bring change to their reality. It’s very inspiring, I think. It’s huge, it’s big as Tony says. It’s adventure and action at its best, what you expect from Star Wars, but then it goes very intimate and it’s very subtle and it takes time to understand each character and it has time for each storyline.
“I just think it’s very rich, it’s powerful, and people are gonna like it hopefully.”
Lucasfilm’s Andor will debut exclusively on Disney+ on September 21, 2022.