The cast of Star Wars' Andor on epic storytelling, and not being able to undo their top buttons

Sky news - Entertainment

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Andor, the latest entry into the Star Wars universe, marks a major shift in tone for the decades-long mega-franchise.

The new Disney+ show is based on the 2016 film Rogue One, which told the story of how the plans for the Death Star were stolen, leading us into the first Star Wars film - 1977's A New Hope.

It is set five years before Rogue One, and details the life and schemes of Cassian Andor, the titular character, played by Narcos: Mexico star Diego Luna - who has also signed on as executive producer.

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While set in the wider Star Wars universe, it has stepped away from Jedi masters and bounty hunters, and instead centres on political intrigue and insider scheming that surrounds the Empire-ruled planets.

Working in a long format means "you can go very deep," Luna explained to Sky News.

"Because you can transit it tonally in a way film won't allow you to.

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"We can be big and adventure, we can have very big scope of science-fiction that you expect from Star Wars with action and battles - but then go very intimate and spend quite a long time in the house of a character finding out how he experiences everyday life, and then go into a very dark tone and be very political and spy-ish and go back to the action."

Luna added the creative team has allowed itself "to be different", saying it was their "responsibility to do so".

"We are here to tell you this story that you can watch from beginning to end. Knowing or not knowing what happens before and after - you don't have to know Star Wars to like this show or to understand this show."

Apart from Andor himself, almost the entire cast is made up of new characters - save for Genevieve O'Reilly, who plays Rebel Alliance founder come Empire senator Mon Mothma.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ..2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Image: Diego Luna as Cassian Andor. Pic: Lucasfilm

'A genuine gift of a role'

She has voiced the character in the animated series Star Wars Rebels, and appeared in Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith.

"I'm so thrilled to get the opportunity not just to step into her shoes again, but to really explore her in a way that we haven't seen before," O'Reilly told Sky News.

"So when Tony [Gilmore, the director and writer] rang me to pitch me the ideas that he was working with, it was deeply exciting for me because, you know, she's been like such a figure, such an important figure within the Star Wars universe, such a staunch role model within that world.

"To get the opportunity to play the woman behind that, to look at what the risks she has to take, how dangerous have her choices been, what her home life has been like? It was a genuine gift of a role."

The Star Wars universe appears to be ever expanding, with Andor just the latest in a long line of new projects set in a galaxy far, far away.

O'Reilly said that was thanks to the vision of George Lucas - the original creator of Star Wars.

"It speaks to what George Lucas created at the very beginning, which was extraordinarily epic storytelling.

"And yet at its heart, at the centre of it, is something intimately human familiar... I think it can keep expanding because we have many stories to tell."

Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Andor. Pic: Lucasfilm
Image: Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma in Andor, alongside Stellan Skarsgard's Luthen Rae Pic: Lucasfilm

Playing a 'super nice fascist' and getting told to not undo your top button

Dedra and Syril, however, are two of those brand-new characters, played by Olivier Award winners Denise Gough and Kyle Soller.

Both work as high-ranking officials in the Empire - the villains in the Star Wars universe.

Denise Gough as Dedra Meero in Andor. Pic: Andor
Image: Denise Gough as Dedra Meero in Andor. Pic: Andor

Gough told Sky News getting to play a baddie in the "incredibly complex space opera" was "amazing".

"Especially if you're a girl," she added.

"Like, for me, it's serious. I'm so excited to be in that uniform as a woman.

"And I shouldn't have to be a big thing, but it is a big thing, there's not many throughout the Star Wars universe, so I feel really privileged to be doing that."

Although she does admit she is playing a "fascist", who is sometimes "super nice".

However, for Soller, wearing those iconic clothes was one of the high points of the role.

"Playing a baddie in Star Wars - you do get great tailoring, and you do get a blow dry, and that doesn't happen on the other side," he said.

Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) in Andor. Pic: Lucasfilm
Image: Kyle Soller as Syril Karn in Andor. Pic: Lucasfilm

Gough added that she attempted to loosen her top button at one point for a scene, only to be told that no one in the Empire has ever done that before.

The pair also talked about the scale of the set the show was filmed on at Pinewood Studios near London, saying it was "eight acres big", with Gough admitting she got lost walking around what Soller described as "literally a town".

Previous Star Wars shows have used new technology called Stagecraft, which uses LED screens as backgrounds, enabling different scenes to be shot in the same room.

But Andor was shot on location, giving it a different feel to the rest of the franchise's shows.

Soller said: "Our characters weren't really relying on green screen... so everything was lived in and everything felt real, and it just was like a kid's dream."

Andor is streaming now on Disney+, with episodes released weekly - listen to our review in the latest Backstage podcast later this week.

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