Streaming September 21 is “Star Wars: Andor,” a prequel to “Rogue One” that tells the origin story of Cassian Andor and how he came to work with the Rebellion. Prior to the series release, the cast and creative team behind the series gathered to discuss the project’s inspiration, new and familiar characters, and the importance of inclusive casting.
The discussion included Tony Gilroy (executive producer, writer and show runner), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor, executive producer), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Kyle Soller (Syril Karn), Denise Gough (Dedra Meero) and Adria Arjona (Bix Caleen).
On the vision behind “Andor”:
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. And 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. And to center our story around that. Look, there are a lot of characters in our show. Many of them are here today. But there are others. Everyone is going to be circulating and spinning and intersecting around the Cassian Andor story as we move towards Rogue One.”
Luna: “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. And 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 live, you know. What gives meaning in the life of someone to be willing to sacrifice everything for a cause, you know? What needs to happen? That journey matters to me. And the character says stuff that it 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?”
On the familiar faces and new players in and around the Rebellion:
O’Reilly: “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 [there] 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.”
Gough: “So Dedra is an [Imperial Security Bureau] officer. And when we meet her, she’s at the kind of low end of the ladder. And she’s incredibly ambitious and meticulous. And 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. And 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. And so yes, she’s clawing her way up the ladder. And 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.”
On the representation of Latino/a actors in the “Star Wars” universe:
Arjona: “I mean, it’s pretty amazing. Diego has, you know, he’s been doing it for way longer than me. But it just, I don’t know, it gives me hope that now a little girl’s gonna watch it and be like oh my god, that girl kind of looks like me and maybe I want to be like her in Halloween or whatever that may be. But it’s really exciting. And it sort of comes to show how things are sort of shifting and I’m happy that Tony sort of brought me along, but it wasn’t part of the conversation, which was I think the most beautiful thing about it. It wasn’t like oh, you’re Hispanic, so you need to be in this.”
Luna: “We’re supposed to be a mirror, you know, for audiences to be able to see themselves there and gladly. And I think with the platforms and these new ways to connect with audiences, I think audiences are sending the right messages, you know? … I think it makes sense if we’re talking about a galaxy where there’s so many planets that people come from different places, you know? 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. And 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.”
The first three episodes of “Andor” will stream on Disney+ on September 21, followed by weekly releases for the rest of the 12-episode season.