Disclosure: This post is part of my all-expense-paid trip to San Francisco, CA provided by Disney. However, typos, misspelled words and opinions are 100% mine.
Diego Luna was the first on the list of interviews for the Rogue One Event, I recently attended in San Francisco. What a genuine, down to earth Latino! Very charming as well, a great trait for his role as Cassian Andor in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Diego Luna plays a big part in the film, as evidenced by his appearance in every Rogue One trailer released.
Diego Luna Interview
Our interview was excellent. Just like Felicity, we got a chance to get a peek at the man behind the character and also hear his thoughts on the film, his character, and how he prepared for a role in what is one of the most pivotal parts of the Rebellion’s incredible defeat of The Empire.
On Cassian Andor
Diego characterized Cassian Andor as a rebellion captain who has to make sure that things work within the group but that at the same time is a mysterious man due to his past and his spy background.
“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 hero 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.”
His Past Work and How it Contributed to His Portrayal of Cassian Andor
One of my fellow bloggers asked Diego about his past work and how it tied into his portrayal of Cassian Andor. For those of you who don’t know, Diego has done a lot of work with rebellious characters, and we got to hear his take on how that and his upbringing in Mexico prepared him to play his role in the film.
“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,” he said. “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 something 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.”
He went on to add, “This film has a lovely message, it’s about people getting involved and taking control of their reality. And of shaping reality. We need that in this world that is going crazy now. We need also to live differently 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 differently as a society and just do it, you know?”
Being a part of the Film and Being a Parent
One of my favorite questions of the day was how Diego felt about being part of the Star Wars franchise and what that meant to him as a parent.
“You know what I do,” he said, “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 the 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 love that he makes a point to show his kids the process of what he does and reinforces that it’s just a story. To me, that helps the kids separate him as an actor from him as a fan.
He went on to add that in addition to giving his kids a lesson in what acting means and the reality vs fantasy of it all, he also brought his son to the set because he is a HUGE Star Wars fan.
“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.”
Another thing he added that I love is that he is also a super fan. And I think when you have an actor in a film who really loves the whole set in a way that only a fan can, it comes across in the movie.
Unfortunately, acting also has its drawbacks. It’s no different for Diego Luna as a parent. For his children, he said that acting “represents something very negative to my kids. It’s what keeps me away.”
However, this film is different because both Diego and his son are fans of the franchise. You could see how happy he was to know that this film was something that both he and his son could share.
“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.”
Training for the Film
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the most physically intense film that Luna has ever done. In order to get ready, he had to do a lot of training and a lot of working out so that he could fully commit to the physicality of the role.
“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,” he said, “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 military training where I learned how to patrol, and I did a camp with ex-militaries, and I was hearing all their stories.”
Although Gareth Edwards wanted a full-fledged soldier after the training was over, that was something even a talented actor like Diego couldn’t deliver. To solve the problem, Gareth followed around Diego and Felicity as they attempted to play off of each other and give a more organic feel to the entire process.
“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 laughed, “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.”
Separating Work and Family for the Film
Of course, Luna wasn’t allowed to talk about the film with anyone outside of the set in order to keep the secrecy of everything in the film until its release. And, of course, this was difficult because he couldn’t share all of his amazing experiences. When asked how he dealt with that Diego had this to say.
“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.”
He went on to add that the difficulty of keeping the film secret actually served to make more of a familial bond within the film actors and crew, saying, “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.”
The Interview was Full of Heart
Just from hearing Diego Luna talk about the film, his training, and his family, I could tell that he’s a man full of heart. Which is probably why he played his role so well. It was a pleasure to be a part of this interview with the incredibly talented Diego, and I hope you’ll go see him in Rogue One: A Star Wars story when it hits theaters everywhere on December 16th in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D.
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