Luna also talks about why the search for his sister isn’t over, if he thinks Cassian knows about the Jedi, and Cassian joining the rebellion.
Six years ago, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivered one of the best stories in the Star Wars universe, so it’s no surprise that Tony Gilroy’s critically acclaimed series Andor has delivered more of the same soul-stirring storytelling about fighting back against authoritarian regimes and finding one’s place in the heart of the rebellion.
Over the course of Season 1, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) learns first-hand the importance of fighting back against the Empire, despite being initially unwilling to get involved. Over the course of twelve episodes, Luna had the opportunity to explore the many facets of Cassian’s personality and shape him into the battle-hardened man he is in Rogue One. Ahead of the finale, Collider’s own Steve Weintraub had the opportunity to chat with the actor and unpack the series.
During the 1-on-1 interview, Luna spoke about getting back to filming for Season 2, working with actors like Andy Serkis, what ultimately pushed Cassian to realize he had to join the rebellion, which scene made him cry on set, and he revealed whether he thinks Cassian’s search for his sister has come to an end.
DIEGO LUNA: We did start yesterday, and man, it’s incredible. Here we go again. It’s just like this format of series. It just doesn’t give you time to celebrate. I finished the looping for the Spanish-speaking territories, basically two weeks and a half ago. Then I started doing the last rounds of press for the finale, and here we are already shooting the second season. It’s incredible. I mean, I’m happy we’re doing it, but it’s just like nonstop. It’s crazy. 12 episodes, it’s like 4 films. It’s a lot of work, but gladly we’re happy with what we’re doing and enjoying the ride.
When Andor was announced way back when a lot of people were like, really? Andor? This is going to be the Star Wars show you guys want to push? And now it’s the best Star Wars since 1980, and people are just raving about it. So what has it been like for you on the inside, because you really don’t know when you’re making something what the reaction is going to be, but people like me, and all over the world, just love it?
LUNA: I would say that it was a natural process, and I think in Rogue One I got a taste of it, and I was a little bit ready. In Rogue One, we had the same kind of feeling. Like the first reaction was, “Really? What? You’re going to what? Now you’re going to do a film that has a beginning and an end? Is that the cast? There [are] no Jedi. What do you mean? I mean, is the tone going to be different?”
I had the same reaction when I was offered Cassian for Rogue One. I was like, “What? What do you mean? Really, me for this? What makes you think I’ll be good in this show?” So I think I understand. And to be honest, I think it took a little pressure off our shoulders to come out of nowhere. My reaction, or this journey, since the series came out, I think it was very important for people, for audiences to be able to watch the first three episodes in one because it gave you the feeling of what we were trying to achieve and the range of what the show was going to offer.
You know what’s beautiful? That when I hear people talking about the show in social media, when I read the reviews, I hear a lot of the words that we were reminding ourselves every day on set. The darkness, the complexity, the depth, the intimacy, the realism. I think that’s one thing Tony and we were all trying to remind ourselves, this has to feel real, this has to feel real. It has to give you the opportunity to forget that you are in a galaxy far, far away for a second. It has to feel that you are witnessing an intimate, realistic moment of someone close to your community, that you are spying on your neighbors kind of thing.
And also, the whole purpose of not judging characters, not living in a world of black and white. Just letting people be [imperfect], as we all are. Making sure there was always complexity and contrast in each moment, and each character, and each relation. All of that. And hearing that as the series comes out, and hearing that audiences are celebrating that, makes me feel very proud because it’s not just that the series is being celebrated, but it’s being celebrated for the same reasons I was part of this show. I was excited to be part of this show.
People are celebrating what I celebrated when I spoke for the first time to Tony. They’re celebrating the stuff we were aiming for, and that’s very important because there was always the opportunity to not commit completely. And we did commit, and there was a big risk, and it paid off. I think it paid off that we really pursued what we thought at the beginning could make this show different and unique and therefore special.
Do you think that Cassian’s search for his sister is over?
LUNA: I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s over. I don’t think it’s ever over. I don’t think it’s over in Rogue One, because I see that as one thing. It’s like the feeling, it’s one of those things that kind of follow every decision you make, or never letting [go] anymore, not again. That kind of thing. And I think that’s behind the decision of that last mission, that suicide mission in Rogue One. That’s for her. That’s for Maarva, that’s for his people, for his community. I love the arc that Tony has built, and the arc ends in Rogue One, not in Season 2. I think it’s going to be quite amazing to watch Rogue One after you see Season 2. I think you’ll see a different film. For sure, you’ll understand the character from a different perspective, and you’ll be with him in a different way.
What do you think Cassian and the other prisoners were building on Narkina 5?
LUNA: I don’t think so. I know what they were building, but sadly, in this first season, Tony Gilroy doesn’t want you to know. I think you can think of something, right? I mean, it is really nice to have these questions that you know they have answer, but you’re going to be the one that’s going to give that answer.
I think that’s what I love from Tony Gilroy’s writing. He’s just celebrating the opportunity of you creating your own version of the story. And what we do should suit that too. That’s when you are just celebrating the intelligence of audiences. I think that’s something Tony does pretty well.
Obviously, for all of us, we’re thinking it’s either a piece of the Death Star, it’s part of a Super Star Destroyer, but it’s also possible that it’s going to be paid off in Season 2.
LUNA: I think it’s definitely something you’re going to have to wait for the answer, but I love that you’re already thinking in the right direction, obviously. And obviously, everyone is, and that’s why I love going back to Rogue One because even after watching this first season if you go back to Rogue One, so many things look different and mean something else. And that’s going to happen in Season 2 even more.
I asked this of Tony two days ago. Do you think Cassian and his friends on Ferrix know about the Jedi and lightsabers, or do you think they’ve never really heard of them?
LUNA: Hmm. That is a good question. I don’t know.
I’ll tell you what Tony said after you tell me.
LUNA: Yeah. Why after?
Or do you want me to tell you what Tony said?
LUNA: Yeah. What did he say? Because clearly in the show there is no sign of them knowing. Right?
He said that he doesn’t think Cassian and his friends know about the Jedi, or lightsabers, or the Royal family. He doesn’t think they know about anything.
LUNA: I agree. At least from what we see. He doesn’t know and clearly doesn’t believe in that. Even if he had heard of them he clearly doesn’t believe in them. But I don’t think they’ve even heard of that. No.
Yep, I agree.
LUNA: We’ll see the second season.
What shot from Season 1 ended up being a surprising challenge, or even a sequence, when you think back on the shoot?
LUNA: Well, I was walking underneath Ferrix, getting to Ferrix, and the director started playing the words of Maarva. And so I was listening to the music in a moment, and then the words. With the music, it was just before the words. Let’s talk about the music. I’m walking underneath Ferrix, and I’m hearing the music, and I just started crying, man. And I didn’t want the character to cry there. It was like, “Shit, no, this can’t be happening.” I got so emotional. So emotional. And it means a lot to me, man, on a personal level, that relation of Cassian and Maarva, and the way she ends up setting him in the right direction. I think it’s such a strong, strong piece of Cassian’s story, and I get emotional just by talking about it.
It is, for me, the strongest relation, and it’s clearly Maarva’s example [that] sets him in that ride that will end in Rogue One. It was really tough to keep my emotions. To keep it strong because I didn’t want him to break there. It had to be later on. I didn’t want it to break there. And it was impossible. The first take, it was impossible. The second, probably, I started behaving better, and I was more in control. But all of that sequence is just so strong. And he’s underneath the place where he was able to have a life just before he fucked everything up, basically.
It’s incredible. I’m just going to say that every time I talk about the series, it’s incredible how nothing is [taken] for granted in our show. And the work of Tony and all the writers, it’s so perfect. Everything pays off. Everything, everything. And as an actor, it’s just so amazing to be able to work with that material because everything has a connection. It was very strong, I mean, I love many episodes of the show, but nothing like 12. 12 is very strong for me. Yeah.
One of the reasons why so many of us rave about the material, because of how much everything is interconnected. Every aspect of the show is just so well done. But do you think it was Maarva’s death, or the prison, or both that finally said to Cassian, I need to join the rebellion?
LUNA: I think it’s both. The prison is about, he realizes how fucked up things are in this galaxy. He realizes how little the life of people means to the Empire. What you are to the Empire is a fucking white suit, a number, and you just mean something if you produce. Just a number. You’re a white suit. There’s no personality there. He realizes that prison is just a metaphor of the life out there. You don’t have to be in that prison to be living in a prison. I think that jump, that running out, that one-way-out sequence is definitely the first time he is running away with a purpose, because he keeps running away in this show. He’s always running away. He starts running away. But that’s a moment where he knows why he’s running away, and that something has to be done. That he can’t call that life.
But I think Maarva, in a personal way, is what ends up setting him up. It’s the wake-up call, and it arrives too late. He just realizes he always had it there. That the mentor, that the referent, the example, it was there, it was at home, it was sitting there in that chair. That the words she was saying were true. That’s why I was saying that Rogue One will feel different after watching episode 12 because you remember Maarva with every word Cassian says, and every action he does.
I think the prison is, in terms of [what] he understands, what they’re fighting against. He understands what the machine, what the structure, what the monster is, the beast that they have to fight. He understands what he’s against. But in a professional level, it’s that he finds the strength. And I think he finds the strength in Maarva’s words, in Maarva’s example, in Maarva’s actions, because after he receives the news in the call, I think he revisits his whole life. He goes back to the moment he was picked by Maarva, and he goes through his life and he finds that the message has been always there.
I love the finale, the last scene, where Cassian is talking to Luthen. “Either kill me or let me in.” Can you talk about filming that scene? Because with some TV shows, the finale would’ve been the breaking out of prison, or robbing the Empire. But the finale of Season 1 is Cassian finally saying, “I want to be in the rebellion.”
LUNA: I think if you could read his mind, at the end what he’s saying is, “This is no life. Take this thing I have away from me because it means nothing unless you let me fight for freedom.” He’s saying, “There’s no point of living like this.” He finally gets it.
There’s a lot of learning to come to find the Cassian we see in Rogue One, and the commitment, the clarity, the belief that he has there. But here, what he’s saying is like, “Yeah, take this away from me because it means nothing unless I’m part of what you guys are fighting for.” And I think it’s that, it’s very deep, and it’s the moment he finds out he can be different [from] what everyone sees in him and what he sees, and what he thought he was. That there is a chance to transform, to evolve, and to become part of a solution.
I think that’s what makes Cassian a beautiful character, because he’s imperfect. But there is one thing about him, I think makes him different. He’s willing to forgive himself, therefore give himself another chance. And he might fuck up many times, and mess up, but he gives himself another chance. And there he is in the same place where he was the first time Luthen found him, and he’s there saying, “Sorry, I get it now. I get it. Now that I got it, either you get rid of me or you make me part of the fight.” And I think it’s a very strong finale, man. And also the one you need for another season to happen. You need that.
When you say another TV show would’ve ended in a different moment, I think that’s a very important thing that we did. I don’t know if we were completely aware of it, but we tried never to be any other show. And we were not comparing our show with anything else but our show, basically. We were always just thinking, “What’s the first version of this show we are doing?” And even though Sanne [Wohlenberg] has a lot of experience, and she did Chernobyl, the rest of us, we had no experience in TV shows. We haven’t done many of these. I’ve done one before. I did two seasons of a show before. I cannot call myself an expert in this format or anything. I think we were thinking of a very long film.
That’s exactly what it is. The arc of robbing the Empire could be leading toward the finale of another show. But I want to ask you some other things before I run out of time.
LUNA: But just very quick. The finale is this because what the show is about is the characters. It’s about them. It’s about who makes a revolution, and why a revolution is needed. Therefore, the finale had to be about characters talking to each other and relating, and opening their heart and their emotions. And about characters being vulnerable. Everything else is there, is part of our show, but the core of our show, it’s what these people are feeling and going through.
Again, I completely agree. Tony told me that Season 2 will feature Yavin, which people know from the original Star Wars. He mentioned you guys are going to film Cassian meeting [K-2SO]. So what was your reaction when you read the scripts for Season 2, even though Tony had told you what it might be about, what was your reaction?
LUNA: I mean, my reaction is, I don’t get shocked anymore about the quality of the writing because I know Tony, I know the writers, I know the process. And even though when you read something that is a work in progress, it’s already better than half of what you’ve read before in your life. It’s incredible. It’s incredible. Most of what’s happening in this season, [I’ve known] since we started planning Season 1. Structurally, it got tighter. And obviously, by deciding to do just two seasons, things got compressed. But structurally he had it clear from scratch, from the beginning. That’s why it doesn’t feel like TV. It’s not like, “What should we do now?” It was never that way. It was never that way. We had a clear idea of where we were heading, and what was going to happen, and which characters were going to be part of this journey. Everything was there from the first time he pitched me his idea.
But now, reading it is delicious. Now I can very selfishly say this. It’s like knowing that I’ll be acting on this show, knowing I’ll be learning those lines, knowing I’ll be also working with these actors just makes me feel like I’m the luckiest actor ever. And now knowing that there’s an audience that likes it and that cares about this, and that celebrates the show for the same reasons I celebrate the show, makes me feel that I couldn’t be luckier. It’s clearly the best time in my career so far. I’m enjoying this. I’m part of the whole process. As a producer, I get to witness the process of everyone in this team, and the learning, and the journey is amazing.
And also, one thing that is important for me and I want to say is that we shot this first season in the worst possible conditions, in the worst time of the confinement, where we had no chance to interact, to celebrate, to share and collaborate in the way I’m used to. I was scared every day. I knew the responsibility, and it wasn’t just the health and safety of everyone, but also I need to be very, very rigorous and cautious so everyone had the chance to go to work under these circumstances. So I am so looking forward to go through a process in a way where I can interact more with this team that I feel today are my family. And I know this journey can be much more enjoyable this time. I really hope that we get the chance to go have a beer after we achieve something difficult together. So I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing this second season.
Tony said that the first thing he was filming on the first day was Kyle [Soller] as Syril, and I know you started filming yesterday. What can you tease about the first thing that you filmed for Season 2?
LUNA: Well, I’ll say two things. First, I haven’t shot anything yet. I am coming from set, but from doing tests, not from filming. So I haven’t stepped on stage as Cassian yet. I still have a few days for that to happen. But I can tell you one thing is that… What should I tell you about this? Well, I’ll tell you that… No, I can’t tell you anything, man.
I get it. I would like to ask you about working with Andy Serkis, because I thought those scenes in the prison were phenomenal, and I thought that it demonstrated Cassian’s growth as a leader.
LUNA: I’ll say that I knew how important Kino [was] in the story. I knew how important the prison [was] for Cassian, and for the story, and for the rebellion. I didn’t know that Kino was going to have that strength, and that Kino was going to become what Andy Serkis did. And that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t matter how well-written it is, it is about everything coming together at the same time. And Andy showed up, man, in a way. He was so ready. He was so Kino, man. And I suddenly realized how important that character was for Cassian.
It wasn’t until I actually was in front of him acting that I went like, “Oh, shit,” because it’s the moment where Cassian understands what he’s capable of, which is if he can make a team with Kino, if he can turn Kino, he has an ability to be a leader.
Even though I read how important Kino was, I didn’t read the character the way he delivered it. And it was impressive to see the strength he brought to Kino and the arc he creates in a very short period of time. It’s two episodes, and the warmth and the humbleness he brought to Kino is incredible. [It was] so enjoyable to work with him because he’s always trying stuff and giving more and more, and his energy never goes down. His energy is always the top. Doesn’t matter where the camera is, doesn’t matter if he’s doing a closeup or the widest shot, he’s giving everything in every moment. It was inspiring to see him work. And again, I didn’t understand exactly what it meant for Cassian to meet Kino until I was in front of him.
I love that about this show. Basically, it’s a great material, great scripts, a good story, and deep and strong characters, great actors, but also great acting. There’s nothing better on set than being in a scene that has room to grow. And that happens with every scene in this show because the scenes are meatier, or very full. We start working and you just wish you could keep going and going because it’s easy to keep finding things.
Actors like Andy make that a very joyful journey. But I think the casting of the whole show is great. Andy Serkis is fantastic. But everyone, every role shines, and everything matters, which is something we have to thank the writers for. Anyway, thank you, man. Thank you for the interview. It was fun. And thank you for the support and for all the love for the show, for the work. I’ve been following what you have been doing and what you guys have been doing [at] Collider, and I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
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