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Adria Arjona, Genevieve O’Reilly, and the Women of Andor


Image Source: Getty / Dimitrios Kambouris, Mike Marsland, and Matt Winkelmeyer and Photo Illustration: Keila Gonzalez

Even Star Wars superfans have been blown away by “Andor,” which mixes intrigue, politics, insurrection, love, and loyalty into one putting and gorgeous collection. The present, which wrapped up its first season Nov. 23, takes its title from Cassian Andor, performed by Diego Luna, who’s first launched as a insurgent spy in “Rogue One.”

“Andor” is a prequel, however the collection from showrunner Tony Gilroy is not simply involved with its title hero, whose journey focuses on his path to the heart of the insurrection. The present is admittedly a few sprawling community of folks unfold throughout a galaxy saved underneath the brutal fist of the Empire. We meet Bix, performed by Adria Arjona, Cassian’s buddy who’s simply attempting to scrape out a easy life. She has a deep bond with Cassian and his mom, Maarva, performed by Fiona Shaw. Then there’s Senator Mon Mothma, a beloved Star Wars character. “Andor” lastly offers actor Genevieve O’Reilly an opportunity to dig into what her life as a insurgent senator is like. Then there’s the viciously methodical Dedra Meero, performed by Denise Gough, a lieutenant in the Imperial Security Bureau who’ll cease at nothing to root out insurrection wherever it involves life.

Arjona, Shaw, O’Reilly, and Gough all talked to POPSUGAR to replicate on the present’s first season and their character’s journeys by way of the 12 episodes.

Fiona Shaw on Maarva’s Final Rebellion

Perhaps no character makes a much bigger splash in the season finale than Shaw’s Maarva. At the begin of the eleventh episode, viewers be taught Cassian’s mom has died whereas he was incarcerated. Previously, in episode seven, Maarva and Cassian share one of their final conversations, the place she tells him that she had determined to develop into a insurgent now, even when he did not agree along with her. “It’s overdue and most likely doomed, and I’m too outdated, and I do not care anymore,” she says as her son begs her to depart the planet Ferrix with him. “Aristotle mentioned that there’s solely fact,” Shaw says of the second. Maarva cannot faux that she may depart with Cassian and all the things could be fantastic. “If you already know in your bones that one thing’s unsuitable, then you have to act on it,” Shaw says. That’s how Maarva lives her life. “And that is a really admirable trait.”

And whereas Maarva is clear-eyed about the want for insurrection, Cassian is not. “Playing that relationship was superb as a result of she loves Cassian . . . and he, of course, lets her down as all the folks we all know and love allow us to down,” Shaw says.

“Most folks could be extra cautious in outdated age, and she’s the reverse in that she opts to incite one thing,” Shaw says of Maarva’s flip towards insurrection. She factors out we expect of outdated folks as caught of their methods, however Maarva is proof that older folks should not be written off, that they’ll nonetheless be the thriving coronary heart of their communities. “The knowledge of Maarva is a knowledge that’s price listening to, that truly is price her being courageous. And it is as a result of she is aware of that there isn’t any different possibility. She has sufficient expertise to know that,” she says.

Fiona Shaw as Maarva

Image Source: Disney

During episode 12, Maarva’s funeral turns into her greatest act of insurrection. With all the neighborhood gathered to honor her and the Imperials waiting for any signal of Cassian, B2 performs a hologram message Maarva recorded. She indicts her neighborhood for wanting away from the Empire’s atrocities. She urges them to struggle, launching a large blowout between the residents and the Imperials proper there in the road.

To create the hologram impact in the scene, Shaw needed to be utterly alone in the studio with cameras pointing at her from each aspect. “It was a really lonely factor to do, however of course . . . it is precisely what Maarva needed to do.” She calls the speech itself “the most astonishing factor” and that she spent “months” studying and mastering it. “You very not often get a chunk that lengthy in tv to do by yourself.”

Shaw is impressed with how Maarva is ready to suppose previous her personal lifetime. “As a personality, she has no concept the impact that [her speech] could have, that it’ll incite one thing that she won’t see,” she says. “[She’s] anyone who’s very a lot come to phrases with their very own place of their world and their lifespan, and I do not suppose we’re superb at that on this planet.” It seems Cassian is at the funeral in secret to listen to his mom’s parting phrases, however Shaw says she does not suppose Maarva was occupied with him in any respect when she recorded her phrases. But Cassian is Maarva’s little one to the finish, and it evokes him anyway.

Adria Arjona on Bix’s Sacrifice

Maarva’s relationship with Bix means quite a bit to each Shaw and Arjona. “Andor” was really a reunion for the pair, who additionally labored collectively on NBC’s 2017 collection “Emerald City.” “I really like Adria. . . . It was very good to see her once more, as a result of the pretty factor about working with anyone once more is you could have this shared historical past and you could have belief,” Shaw says.

Arjona says that Maarva is Bix’s “greatest idol.” Bix is extraordinarily loyal, and Arjona calls her a “powerful cookie.” “What she inevitably finally ends up going by way of all through this whole season is fairly horrific,” she says, and whereas Bix did not know precisely what the penalties of her actions could be for herself, “she knew that it was for higher trigger, and that reveals simply how selfless Bix is.”

In episode 9, Dedra and the Imperials crack down on Cassian’s neighborhood to attempt to discover him. She makes use of audio torture on Bix to attempt to get the data out of her. As viewers, we do not hear the noise they play for Bix — we solely hear Arjona’s horrifying scream.

“My vocal cords actually, actually took a toll on that scene,” Arjona says. She explains that she, the administrators, and Gilroy all wished to do a kind of torture that hadn’t been seen on display earlier than. Arjona was impressed partially by individuals who’ve developed tinnitus consequently of COVID-19 infections. “It affected so many individuals psychologically,” she says. “And in case you put that to a distinct diploma and you hear all this stuff, how loopy can it actually drive you? And how horrific is that first second?” she says.

Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Image Source: Disney

Dedra grinds Bix down, however she’s not damaged. During the funeral scene, an imprisoned Bix hears Maarva’s voice, and Arjona says it is “heartbreaking” as a result of Bix truthfully does not totally perceive that Maarva’s lifeless and gone. But listening to the preventing in the road, she feels her pleasure in Ferrix. “She feels that all the things she’s gone by way of wasn’t in useless,” she says.

By the finish of the episode, Cassian saves her and places her on a ship headed to security. “One of my favourite strains at the finish is the line that Bix tells everyone on that ship,” Arjona says. “She’s like, ‘Cassian will discover us,’ and then she appears at him and goes, ‘He’ll discover us.’ And it is that belief of their friendship and their love and the loyalty that they’ve as pals that saved her afloat the complete time.”

For Bix, rebelling is a “easy determination. “It’s both you are taking a step again and keep quiet, otherwise you take a step ahead and you converse out for what you suppose is correct and what you consider in,” Arjona says. As a girl of shade dwelling in an ever-changing world, Arjona recognized emotionally with Bix’s journey. “I’ve felt this earlier than. I do know what that is, even when I may not be in the entrance position of all of it, however I must be an element of it,” she says.

Genevieve O’Reilly on the Loneliness of Mon Mothma

O’Reilly sees her character Mon Mothma’s journey as all about selections — particularly the ones the character wasn’t allowed to make as a younger lady. As we be taught in “Andor,” at 15 she had an organized marriage, and at 16 she joined the Galactic Senate. “She basically is married to the Empire now,” O’Reilly says. “I do not suppose she had a lot of a selection in that. Loads of her personal selections are harmful. . . . She is working in a glass cage.”

O’Reilly notes that Mon Mothma has been “iconic” in the world of Star Wars for a very long time; the character made her first look in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” performed then by Caroline Blakiston. “What I discover so priceless about this model of Mon Mothma is that we’re seeing her not simply as that icon, that pillar, that statue, that chief, however we’re seeing the lady that it takes to be that, the weight that it’s to hold that, how tough it’s to be a voice of diplomacy in a world of aggression and incarceration and brutality,” O’Reilly says. She values phrases and diplomacy in a world that is dominated by warfare and violence. “Something else that I really like about what they’re permitting time to discover is simply how lonely that’s.”

Mon Mothma’s loneliness is one of the greatest costs she pays for the insurrection. She has only one second of respite when her cousin Vel (Faye Marsay), one other insurgent, visits in episode 9. O’Reilly was so pleased that Gilroy added that connection between the characters. “It was such a reduction that she has a minimum of one ally,” she says. “That was actually maybe the solely moments you see her really weak.”

However, O’Reilly does suppose there’s one place the place Mon Mothma lets some of her character shine by way of: her garments. O’Reilly thinks of them as the senator’s “armor.” “It’s attention-grabbing as a result of it is a costume, but it surely additionally feels, for me inside her, fairly genuine,” she says. “It’s place to cover.”

Denise Gough on Playing a Meticulous Fascist

Gough’s Dedra additionally takes nice pleasure in the costume she wears — her Imperial uniform. But the actor says you would not be capable of inform Dedra she was the villain on this story. “Dedra’s like the hero of her personal story,” Gough says. “She’s additionally fairly rebellious in her strategies and meticulous.” She does not suppose Dedra is especially formidable or sadistic; her pleasure out of torturing Bix is not as a result of of the violence however as a result of she’s executing her plan. “She’s a perfectionist,” Gough says. “She simply additionally occurs to be a fascist.”

Loads of viewers took a couple of episodes to consider that Dedra was actually, really the unhealthy man. “Maybe it is simply in our nature to need folks, particularly girls, to ultimately soften up or one thing,” Gough guesses about their response. She admits she does not know what Gilroy has deliberate for the second season, however she feels “it might be a disservice” to alter her path at this level.

Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Image Source: Disney

But she thinks by the time the finale premiered, viewers had been received over by her character. “I do not sense that folks need her to alter now,” she says. But she admits she was additionally just a little frightened that Dedra could be “softened” or — even worse — fall in love. So at first, she was involved when she learn the script for the finale. After Maarva’s rousing speech, chaos breaks out, and Dedra’s virtually carried away by a gaggle of residents turned rebels. She’s saved by a mysterious individual, solely to comprehend it is Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), who’s obsessed along with her. But for Gough, it is not likely about Dedra getting saved.

“What occurs to her in a room with the man who hasn’t given up on her,” she wonders. “I do not think about Dedra to have had many intimate relationships. . . . And additionally we made certain that she wasn’t pleased about it.” Dedra is extra in shock than something; she grabs a random piece of equipment to assault him with, and solely watching the scene again did Gough notice she was actually shaking whereas filming it.

Gough likes the manner Dedra’s plot line subverts our expectations for tales about girls. “She began out as anyone, we had been all like, ‘Yay, go on,'” she says. She’s a girl in a men-dominated office. Gough says it is simple for viewers to root for Dedra to inform her lazy coworkers off. “And then you definitely’re like, ‘Oh my god, no, do not do this, although. That’s horrible. That’s a horrible factor to do.'” It’s a critique of that girl-boss mindset “with out type of punching you in the face about this.”

Gough loves that after Dedra proves she’s a maverick, she strikes up the chain of command. “[Her superiors] are similar to, ‘That loopy lunatic will go to any lengths to guard this Empire,'” she says. “But you may’t belief anybody in the Empire. Everybody’s afraid all the time of being shafted.” The Empire is “dysfunctional and poisonous,” she provides, “so for her to outlive and thrive in it, I feel you do need to be a sure kind of individual to have the ability to do this.”

On Season 1’s Legacy and Where They’re Headed For Season 2

Each of the 4 actors interpret the politics of “Andor” otherwise, however they are saying you may’t keep away from how political the textual content is. Arjona notes that she’s from Puerto Rico, the place there have been “so many variations” of protest actions. Shaw, O’Reilly, and Gough are all Irish, and Shaw lived by way of years of Irish unrest. “Our world and our historical past is intricately woven with colonialism, and ‘Andor’ actually leans into that, the impacts of colonialism,” O’Reilly says. “Politicians and rebellions coming collectively to seek out frequent floor to entry peace is inside my lifetime, inside my nation. So it is truthful, and it’s taking place throughout the world now.”

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Image Source: Disney

Gough could not be extra effusive about how a lot she loves being half of “Andor.” “I’ve by no means been extra proud of something I’ve finished on display ever,” she says. O’Reilly loves what number of totally different girls are contained in the present. “We need to thank girls like Geena Davis and the Institute for Gender Representation in Media who’ve actually advocated for feminine illustration inside narrative and inside our movies and our tv,” she says. “And we’re not there but. We’re nowhere close to parity.” But she notes that even between the different occasions she’s performed Mon Mothma and now, “we have made important progress for ladies and gender range inside our storytelling.”

“I’m grateful that I’m having the alternative to genuinely discover her,” she says. “Now, as a girl, she’s far more than a pressure for exposition or a mouthpiece or a statue for a insurrection. I feel even in season two, they are going to go even additional with this. . . . We’re studying what it prices to be a feminine insurgent.”

Gough, O’Reilly, and Arjona all drop hints about season two, which is getting ready for filming proper now. They’ve all talked to Gilroy a minimum of a bit about their characters’ journeys. Season two is ready to cowl the final 4 years earlier than “Rogue One” takes place, and O’Reilly notes that the present “Andor” model of her character nonetheless is not in the place she is at the starting of “Rogue One,” a frontrunner in the Rebel Alliance. “I’m hopeful that will probably be actually gritty and dextrous and dramatic and simply thrilling. I’m excited to return to this, [which is] not all the time the case,” she says.

Gough solely says, “I’ve bought some actually difficult stuff to handle subsequent season.” Arjona says she has quite a bit of concepts for the place Bix’s story may go however jokes, “I belief Tony Gilroy’s mind greater than I belief my very own.”

But for now, there are quite a bit of Star Wars followers to fulfill. Gough did her first occasion at October’s Lucca Comics & Games Convention in Italy at the finish of October. She bought emotional seeing so many ladies dressed like her character.

Arjona says the impression of being a Latin American actor in Star Wars did not actually hit her till she began to fulfill followers. “I had this stunning second with this lady on the pink carpet of our premiere in LA, and she was already dressed up as Bix,” she remembers. “The solely factor that had come out was the trailer. She was in full costume. And I simply bought so moved by that, and she was Latin American. She simply began crying and telling me how wonderful and how necessary it’s for her as a Star Wars fan to see herself on this present.”

“I maintain having little moments like that,” Arjona says. “As every episode airs, I’ll have extra and extra. And it is simply actually, actually particular, and it is actually gratifying. I do not suppose I’ve felt that earlier than.”

All 12 episodes of “Andor” season one are streaming now on Disney+.





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