Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Andor
You could forgive Diego Luna for being over the moon at having a series that's all about his character from the Star Wars saga, Cassian Andor. But Luna's not one to expect the spotlight.
"I never saw the series that way," he says of Andor, debuting September 21 on Disney+. "This isn't about one person, but how a revolution is born. It's about many people and the work of a team, about a community and their cause."
A prequel to the 2016 movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the series is slated to tell — over two twelve-episode seasons — the origin story of the rebel band that tries to steal the plans for the Empire's planet-obliterating Death Star. Along the way, Cassian, whose homeworld is destroyed by the Empire, evolves from young thief to freedom fighter.
"I thought there was a lot to say about these characters and their growth, and it's exciting to explore that in a longer form of storytelling," says Luna, who did a deep dive into Cassian's history when making Rogue One.
"I needed to know my backstory to execute the script, so I asked a lot of questions — not that the answers meant anything to anyone but me." The flashback scenes in Andor not only bring that story to light, they're close to what he envisioned.
One of Luna's biggest challenges was maintaining a laser focus on Cassian's inner life. "It was very important for me to always know what was behind his decisions. Sure, he has a blaster that shoots light, but I wanted to keep him as real as anyone you know."
To do that, the actor had to stay grounded in the real world.
"I would always try to find a reference to something I read in a book or the newspaper or saw in a documentary, or maybe just something my cousin said to my aunt," he says. "It's impressive to be on a set of this dimension with all these creatures and droids, but you have to find a way to reinterpret it and bring it close to your own memories and experiences. You can't let the machinery and special effects take you away from the moment. Every scene should be as real as a tiny film with just two characters in a room."
Returning to the Star Wars galaxy — and reconnecting with its onscreen family — has been a privilege and pleasure. "When the offer to play Cassian first came up, it really was out of the blue," he says. "I grew up in Mexico watching these movies as a kid and never thought something like this was possible in my life. My love for cinema has a lot to do with this universe, and I'm so excited to be back."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #8, 2022, under the title, "Rousing a Rebel."