The new Star Wars series that streams on Disney+ has given us a unique perspective of the galaxy far, far away. And even films like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” showed there’s more political nuanced to its mythology than just the usual good vs. evil story. And “Andor” intends to explore that in ways that the films never could while still being a Star Wars story.
ThatsItLA had a chance to talk to the cast about Andor and how much of it reflects the world we live in today, the practical sets that brought depth and realism to the city of Ferrix, and what it was like to play with a few droids.
“The first time that I got to play Mon Mothma was a long time ago now. I think it was about 17 years ago. And I was very respectful of stepping into Caroline Blake’s Austin’s shoes and very honored to be able to get to play the young version of this woman that she and George Lucas originated back in the early 1980s,” Genevieve O’Reilly said about reprising her role as Mon Mothma. “I was very respectful of the idea that George Lucas wrote a female leader of a Rebel Alliance back in the 1980s. That’s a powerful woman he created.”
O’Reilly revealed that she watched Austin’s performance in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” to discover how she could expand upon the character even more in “Andor.” “I watched that scene many times to see how Caroline spoke and how she held herself,” she said. “Each time I’ve gone back to play her, I have looked at that scene again to remind myself of what they created together. And there was a very famous line in there that Star Wars fans often say to me, which is many, that Mon Mothma says, which is many Bothans died to bring us this news. And I always saw at the core of that a pain that this woman was carrying a lot of grief or pain, our weight, the weight of responsibility of her row. And I was forever curious about what that was. Who is this woman? What is she lived? What is she had to sacrifice? What is the cost of being her? And so now the opportunity to explore that in Andor is I’m very grateful for it.”
And because “Andor” steps away from the eternal fight between Jedis and Sith, we get a story that audiences can see themselves in, especially since there’s a solid political allegory woven into the very fabric of the show. “Where the world of the Star Wars world is very well established as it were ‘Rogue One’ and the prequels, we know a world of which we are vaguely in a future. What is interesting is what happens to human nature in that future,” Fiona Shaw, who plays Maarva, Andor’s adoptive mother, said about how ‘Andor’ relates to the world we live in now. “The human nature is prescribed like all human nature’s by parents by history, by geography. And this is similar is that you suddenly get to investigate the domestic human aspect of living in the future.”
Adria Arjona, who plays Bix, Cassian’s friend, shared a similar sentiment about the themes of Andor. “It’s a mirror of our society in a way we’re, you know, a woman like me is in this show. I think you’ll see what we see on a day-to-day basis, walking down the street, you’ll see represented on-screen and, you know, this is a show about people at a cusp of a revolution and what does that mean for each and every single character.”
“Does that mean some stand up for the cause? Is it mean that some take a step back? Does it mean,” Ajorna asked. “Bravery is being questioned. I think everyone’s sort of moral compass is being questioned. And it’s similar to sort of what is going on in the world today, right? So you’re like, I don’t even know how to tackle it even at times you want to be so part of it, but how do you fight with what tools and you educate yourself? And I think people in this show, and the characters of the show are going through something similar.”
“This is a time to get together to realize that sometimes we have nothing in common, but we have everything in common, and it’s a real big realization of that,” Ajorna said of the power of the people living and working in Ferrix. “There’s such a camaraderie and unity. It’s people instantly come together, and then it will unravel throughout the show.”
Kyle Soller, who plays Syril Karn, a deputy inspector, said about the quality of Tony Gilroy’s “Andor” scripts. “The first thing that attracted me to it was Tony Gilroy, full stop,” he said. “What he’s accomplished as a writer and a director, and then I’d seen ‘Rogue One[: A Star Wars Story] and saw how different and new Star Wars could be, and could incorporate elements of 70s genre films. There’s a dirty dozen element to it, but it’s also grittier and more human, and ‘Andor’ takes that to the max.”
“Tony writes real human beings doesn’t write two-dimensional cutouts. And Cassian is an incredibly complicated character and makes very questionable decisions, you know, and he’s the hero,” Soller says of the moral ambiguities of some of the characters that appear. “And in the same regard, Syril, one of the antagonists, is full of light and shade and existing within this gray area of not knowing where he is, who he is, what he wants to be.”
“He has his sights fixed on the Empire, and the structure and power and control of that system is desirous to him,” Soller said of Syril’s ambitions. “But what attracted me was that he was in a state of becoming. He wasn’t fully formed. And the fact that we were going to explore that over five years, you know, start in Syril’s infancy in the first couple of episodes in Episode one to three, and that’s kind of a complete character arc. Like he rises and falls. And there are nine more episodes and then 12 Next year, you know, so like, there’s such scope to really go into his humanity and the intimacy of his domestic life.”
And when it came to practicality and tangibility of the sets, Ajorna said it was unlike any other franchise that would sometimes rely on blue screens. “The set was so big. It was an actual city. So I was able to sort of run freely wherever I wanted. I just needed to end up in Rick’s Road, which is the main road of Ferrix,” she said. “It was liberating because I had the autonomy of where my character would run or choose to run. Was it left? Was it right? And because everything was filmable, I could go wherever, and it was fine. So that was, that was cool. And I had never done anything like that usually is like, you have to run from here to here because then there’s a green screen ends here. And that wasn’t the case here.”
“By the time I filmed that scene, I was so in touch with the geography of Fairfax that I knew that place like the palm of my hand. I knew exactly how to get from point A to point B, which is very different than when I first got on set where I completely got lost,” Ajorna added.
“Andor” has its three-episode premiere exclusively on Disney+ on September 21, 2022.