Did you catch my interview yesterday with Felicity Jones? Be sure to catch up now!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters December 16!
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY follows a group of unlikely heroes in a time of conflict who band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Handsome, charming, with a fantastic accent is exactly how I would describe Diego Luna. He plays Cassian Andor in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. His character is intense if the 28 minutes I screened Saturday night at Skywalker Ranch is indicative of the completed movie. He has charisma and was so happy to answer our questions. It made the interview time fly by and I wish it could have lasted just a bit longer.
Tell us a little bit about your character.
My character is called Cassian Andor and he’s a captain; an intelligence officer for the rebellion. A pretty damned good rebellious captain, you know? He’s in charge of the most important mission for the rebellion and he has to make sure this thing works together.
But he’s a spy, so he’s quite a mysterious man. He has a lot of information he would like to forget. He doesn’t like war, he believes in the cause and would do anything for the cause. He’s ready to sacrifice everything and he’s a true hero. He’s the kind of heroes we could be, right? He doesn’t have special powers; he’s no Jedi, no. He’s just a man with conviction and that knows that working together as a team makes you stronger. So that’s Cassian.
You’ve worked a lot and you did a film about Cesar Chavez. You did things that had to do with a rebellious nature trying to find the good and help the good causes. This is kind of a tie-in, in a way, his character of trying to fight the evil Empire. How did you feel preparing for all these different roles- did they help you prepare for this in real life?
Yeah, the theme is freedom, you know? And living in Mexico and growing there, I see beautiful things. I hear amazing stories, but there’s also a contrast there.
We have one of the richest men on the planet in a country that has so much poverty. So that contrast shaped my view and my point of view and to me, film, it’s a way to get all that out and put it on the table and make sure you share it with others and you generate a debate, and some thing starts from there. When Gareth [Edwards] sat down with me and he started talking about the film, and about the theme, and about the rebellion, and about the moment in the history of Star Wars when this happens, I suddenly was listening to a speech.
I would join just as a fan, just as part of the crew, or whatever. If he would’ve said, like, oh, I want you to be a Storm Trooper and just wear that outfit and be miserable for quite a long time until Felicity’s character kills you, I would’ve said yeah, let’s do it. I’m glad he didn’t say that, but I would’ve said yes because I think this film has a lovely message, it’s about people getting involved and taking control of their reality. And of shaping the reality. We need that in this world that is going crazy now. We need also to live different as a society and understand the diversity, culture, and racial diversity- it just makes us stronger and richer, and that there’s a great thing there for us to find so yeah, let’s live different as a society and just do it, you know?
Filming takes so much time of your life. It’s so challenging; it’s so risky, also, suddenly everyone has an opinion in a second and that’s tough to take, so you don’t wanna do it about a theme you don’t care about. You don’t wanna be three years talking about something that doesn’t mean anything to you.
On that note because Star Wars is a franchise that the roles are family, and it’s part of generations of family, how do you feel about being part of a film where your kids, your son, your daughters will be watching you, and in the future when they can see something more violent, and know that my dad is the hero or part of the crew of the heroes in this film?
Sadly my son already knows what the film is about and everything. You know what I do? With the stuff I do, I bring my kids to see how we’re doing it, so they can see it more from the perspective I see it and get less affected by the story.
I grew up in theater, so I used to witness things I should probably not witness, but because I was watching from the dressing rooms or from the inside of the theater, I always saw the actor coming out and he was alive. I saw the actor coming out crying and then going, oh my god, what happened? What was that, and getting ready for the next, and realizing those tears didn’t mean what people thought it meant. I understood that the representation of fiction, that it has to look real but doesn’t mean it’s real.
I invited my kids to witness this process, also because my son is a huge fan of Star Wars. He knows the world of Star Wars better than I do. He’s eight years old, but he has seen everything and on this one, I didn’t want it to stop him because everyone’s going to be talking about it. I want him to feel part of this, you know? And he’s so excited. I like telling this story because it’s true. It’s just, this film is important for me as an actor for many reasons, but one is because it connects me with the kid I was.
[Tweet “”This film … it connects me to the kid I was.” – @diegoluna_ #RogueOneEvent”]
At seven years old; six years old, I saw A New Hope. I saw it because I wanted to belong to the world of my cousins, you know? All of my cousins were playing something I didn’t get. I wanted to be part of that universe and be able to be part of that gang and belong to that. But it also connects me with my kids as a parent. And as a fan, it connects me with my son. I share the excitement with him. When we were watching The Force Awakens, we were there holding hands and enjoying the moment. It was two pals watching a film, and that was very sweet.
My work is something that has always separated us. It represents something very negative to my kids. It’s what keeps me away. It’s that thing that I go do that they cannot be part of. And then I finish the films, and they cannot watch them. None of my other films- I mean, I did show my son Cesar Chavez but he just didn’t want to watch it. He fell asleep. But my stuff is not meant for them. Until I did The Book of Life, that’s the first film I could actually share with my kids.
So this is special because I am telling them, I’m going to work, and my son, instead of crying goes, like, ‘yeah, yeah, go, go. I mean, you’ve gotta be on time, Dad, and make sure you do it right, please. Do what Gareth says. Don’t mess up.’
So from Telenovela to Star Wars, how did that happen?
I don’t know how it happened. I have no idea. I started at six years old doing theater, and then around ten, I did my first film, and that’s when they invited me to do TV. And I would say that those first years of doing TV, they were difficult in my life and I’m so glad I survived. Because the fame that TV brings is quite unhealthy. It’s too fast. Everything happens too fast and while in cinema, at least I’ve been working for two years for this to come out. So I’m ready for this moment, you know? It didn’t happen to me. I worked to be here.
[Tweet “”It didn’t happen to me. I worked to be here.” – @diegoluna_ #RogueOneEvent “]
In television, you’re shooting something one day, and it airs the next day- the reaction hits you two days later, and then people forget the next Monday because there’s someone else on TV. So it’s a weird thing to digest, and then when you’re getting used to it, it’s gone, and you go like, what? Oh, now you don’t care? No, there’s a new one- move, move away, there’s someone else. And I don’t find that healthy.
But cinema, it’s different. Cinema is different and it stays there. You can always go back to that and remember where you were. It leaves a stamp and I feel just very lucky to be doing what I’m doing now.
What kind of training did you do?
First I went to the gym- a place I didn’t like before and they got me into a whole program of, gym, food; they were even taking care of my sleep.
It’s necessary because I’ve never worked seven months in a film so intense and every day we were doing something crazy- running, jumping, climbing, and it was hardcore scenes. And Gareth really likes things to happen. He doesn’t like pretending. He goes we’re gonna do this, so you’re gonna be running, and there’s gonna be explosions, and these guys are gonna be shooting from this angle, this from this other angle, and you have to make it, work- how would you do it? And he gave us military training. I had two weeks of a military training where I learned how to patrol, and I did a camp with ex-militaries, and I was hearing all their stories.
I spent a lot of time with them and that was very helpful. But he actually thought a soldier was gonna come back from these two weeks. And I go, no, [he laughs]. That takes years, and he goes, no, no, you’re the captain. Solve this. And I had to be like, okay, and then talk to Felicity and start to organize a plan, then execute, and he would be following us- kind of this covering and improvising on the way, reacting to what we were doing.
So it was a free process. It’s was full of that feeling of not knowing what’s gonna happen which brings some interesting tension and gives you those little moments of vulnerability that Gareth was looking for.
How do you separate your work from afterward?
With this one, it was difficult because I’m a fan, so I would go home and go, like, oh my god, this is great. But imagine you’re a fan, and they tell you, oh, come here. You’re gonna go live this amazing experience – actually live that world from the inside, but you cannot tell anyone. And you go, no, that’s a dream. It’s not happening until I tell my best friend, you know? It’s not real until I share this with my father.
It doesn’t make sense but obviously it makes sense for the idea of actually hiding everything from people, and I love that because the experience of watching it with an audience that doesn’t know what’s gonna happen, it’s so unique and it doesn’t happen anymore in cinema. So that is very cool. But the process of living through this was painful and very frustrating because amazing stuff would happen, or very difficult things happened, and I had to talk to myself about it.
And that also created a nice, beautiful family because we were going through this, and we had the same thing. We couldn’t tell anyone out there, so Felicity was my shrink, my friend, a little bit of everything, and I was the same for her, you know? And that kept us sane, basically.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!