Diego Luna Discusses the Challenges of the Disney+ Cassian Andor Series

Diego Luna talks about story challenges as he prepares to reprise his Rogue One role on the Star Wars Cassian Andor prequel series.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Rogue: One A Star Wars Story
Photo: Lucasfilm

The Mandalorian may currently stand alone in the arena of live-action small screen Star Wars shows, but it will be joined soon enough by the developing Disney+ Star Wars Cassian Andor series. It’s an intriguing offering, since the show will see one of the franchise’s big-screen stars, Diego Luna, reprise his role from 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Indeed, Luna is ready to tackle the show’s challenges, notably the elephant in the room regarding his character’s arc.

In a video chat interview with Indiewire, Luna—quarantined in his Mexico City home—discusses his next career step. The actor started by divulging the good news that his children, who had been infected by the coronavirus, have recovered and returned home from a quarantine. He subsequently revealed that he’s taking an indefinite break from his starring role on the Netflix fact-based crime drama, Narcos: Mexico, to tackle the untitled Cassian Andor series, which was set to commence production in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic. While Luna is clearly in no position to divulge details, he does speak with candor regarding the goals of the series, stating:

“I can’t really talk about it. The thing I can tell you, and it’s a nice challenge and it’s a great way to approach a show, but what happens when you already know the ending?” He adds, “Then it becomes about the story. Everything is in how you tell the story and how many different layers you can find. This can’t be a show now where at the end we surprise you with like, ‘Oh no it wasn’t him!’ We’ve already seen the ending.”

Obligatory delays notwithstanding, Luna’s eagerness over returning to the Star Wars Universe is undaunted by the clear narrative challenges facing his prequel series. This, of course, is the fact that his character—alongside Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso—was killed at the end of Rogue One in a display of planetary destruction delivered by the Death Star to the planet Scariff, although not before they successfully completed their mission in obtaining the Death Star plans that wound up in the hands of Princess Leia (voiced by the late Carrie Fisher and recreated via CGI), thus revealing the film as a direct prologue to the iconic opening scene of 1977’s original Star Wars, a.k.a. A New Hope.

Auspiciously enough, Luna’s enthusiasm for returning to the role is quite palpable when he states of playing Cassian in Rogue One, “I experienced the most freedom in quite a long time, in every possible way.” He adds that the film’s storyline “had a connection with my love for cinema,” pointing to it as a “homage of the early films” that was “shot like back in the day” with practical sets and creatures, sans the lifelessness of green screen work; factors that he credits for giving the actors something tangibly relatable in their performances.

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Consequently, despite Cassian’s now-famous fate, he doesn’t think that the series will be an anticlimactic affair, since—as exemplified by the success of Breaking Bad prequel/spinoff Better Call Saul—there’s plenty of room for compelling retroactively-inserted drama in an established continuity, even in Star Wars. While the series certainly has its work cut out for it, Luna likens the challenge to the ones that faced Rogue One itself, which essentially turned a few lines from A New Hope’s opening crawl into a feature-length film, one that was widely acclaimed and financially lucrative, having accrued a box office take of over $1 billion worldwide. As Luna continues:

“If you think about it, Rogue One started with the same task. The last scene of Rogue One is a scene we all know. It makes another part of your brain work [as a storyteller]. You can’t use the same formulas for storytelling you’ve known all your life with this because it’s very different. The big thing is now we start with a character that people already know what he’s capable of.”

Thankfully, Luna won’t have the burden of carrying the Cassian Andor series alone, since he’ll be joined by another Rogue One returnee, Alan Tudyk, who will reprise his voice and CGI motion-capture role as the lanky, sarcastic reprogrammed Imperial droid, K2-SO, who was a standout fan-favorite from the film, and would also meet a definitive sacrificial fate. Moreover, the show’s creative coalition will see the return of writer Tony Gilroy, who contributed substantially to the Rogue One screenplay by Chris Weitz, and was widely credited for having saved the film, which, during production, endured negative headlines about delays and reshoots.

The series will also have the distinction of brandishing a rare big-to-small-screen transition of characters that, technically, hasn’t happened since the Ewoks ABC TV movies from the mid-80s—and, before those, the original cast’s infamous role reprisals in 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special. – While it might be bad luck to even mention that notorious TV abomination in the same paragraph, the Disney+ Cassian Andor series is, like the rest of the world, just waiting for the global green light to kick things into motion.