Diego Luna says 'Andor' is here to bring 'Stars Wars' down to Earth

New show’s lead actor and executive producer says this is the most grounded instalment from the franchise yet

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Andor, the latest chapter in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, is one of the most eagerly anticipated missives from a galaxy far, far away.

The prequel to the 2016 movie Rogue One comes to Disney+ this week, with a teaser landing on the streamer earlier this month. Six years ago, the film followed the mission to capture the plans for the Death Star ahead of the events of 1977’s A New Hope. It is regarded by many as among the best of the post-Disney films in the series, as evidenced by its franchise table-topping Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 86 per cent.

This new show explores the making of Rogue One’s hero, Cassian Andor, following his development from a childhood refugee to a cynical, “revolution-averse” thief, and ultimately his transformation into the leading rebellion spy we meet in Rogue One.

Rogue One is a film about an event, and you don't get to know those characters,” Diego Luna, who reprises his role as Andor and serves as executive producer on the show, tells The National.

This is one of the main criticisms levelled at the film by critics, despite the largely positive reception, and The New Yorker described it at the time as a “depersonalised promotional film for itself”.

“You don't get to understand where they come from, and for me it's quite relevant today to tell the story of what needs to happen for a fervent revolutionary to emerge. What gives meaning to the life of someone willing to sacrifice everything for a cause? That journey matters to me.”

For Luna, just like his audience, it seems there are many burning questions about his character left hanging, which Andor will attempt to rectify. “There’s stuff that haunts me in Rogue One,” he says. “He started the fight when he was six years old. What does that mean? Why does a six-year-old miss his childhood and start a fight? That, to me, is really interesting to know. He talks about a dark past, about doing terrible stuff for the rebellion. What is he referring to? I was really excited to be able to go into that journey and give those answers to you.”

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Lucasfilm's 'Andor', exclusively available on Disney+. Photo: Lucasfilm

We should know a whole lot more about Cassian after the first season, which is 12 episodes, and a second series is already in the pipeline.

Cynical viewers could accuse Disney+ of relying a little too heavily on its interstellar franchise and its fanatical followers, with so much Star Wars content already available on the streamer, from specially made live-action content such as The Mandalorian and Obi Wan Kenobi, to animated adventures such as The Bad Batch and Rebels, as well as the full roster of films.

Tony Gilroy, Andor creator, lead writer and executive producer, as well as Rogue One co-writer, says the new show deserves to be judged on its own merits, though. “There's no secret that the show exists because there's an enormous, passionate Star Wars community. That's what gave us the money, and the momentum, and the ability to make a show that's this insanely big,” he says.

“We will bring a lot of things to that community and we hope they appreciate it. But we're doing this in a completely uncynical fashion, and our hope is that we can bring something that's so intense emotionally, and so true, down to the smallest domestic dramas and interpersonal relationships in the midst of epic, revolutionary, historical moments to attract a whole other audience that's interested in that as well. Can we marry those two together? That's the gamble, and that's what we're trying to do.”

What’s unarguable is that there’s much responsibility on Luna’s shoulders, with so much focus on one character, who until now had been fairly peripheral in the Star Wars universe.

Luna is confident that Cassian will win over viewers. “It's a question of how far can someone be from learning he could be a tool of change, and still find his way into acknowledging that he is capable of big stuff,” he says. “When you see the guy in the first episode, you don't see any possibility of that happening, because he brings a pain he's carrying that is making him very cynical about life. That gives me hope in the world we live in — if that's possible, anyone can find what we are capable of.”

Like Gilroy, Luna believes that the story of Andor is one that speaks to audiences far beyond the realms of Star Wars obsessives, and has plenty of relevance for audiences on planet Earth.

“That story matters. It’s a story I would like to tell to my kids, to my friends,” he says. “It's a story I would like to see as an audience because of where we live right now ― a story about real people in very dark times having to articulate a reaction to oppression. It's the most grounded Star Wars you will get, and it matters in the world we live in today. I always saw this in the story, otherwise I wouldn't care.”

The first three episodes of Andor launch on Disney+ on September 21, with new episodes then screening weekly.

Updated: September 16, 2022, 6:02 PM