From telenovelas to Star Wars, Diego Luna has made his mark. During the recent Rogue One Event, Diego shared what it was like to keep the secret of his role as Cassian Andor.
Can you tell us what you’re able to share about your character?
Yes, I can say a lot. 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, you know? He doesn’t like war, but 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. He’s just a man with conviction, and that knows that working together as a team makes you stronger. So that’that’s, s Cassian.
You’ve played an array of characters. How did you feel preparing all these different roles- did they help you prepare for your role as Cassian?
Yeah, the first Star Wars film, in fact, turned out like a chip on me, you know? It is, the theme is freedom. And living in Mexico and growing up there, I saw beautiful things. I hear amazing stories, but there’s also a contrast there, you know? And those who have are very few, but they have a lot.
We have one of the richest men on the planet in a country that has so much poverty. So that contrast shaped 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 debate, and some things start from there. When Gareth 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 speech.
I would join just as a fan, just as part of the crew, or whatever, you know? He could’ve said, like, “Oh, I want you to, to be a Storm Trooper and just wear that outfit and be miserable for quite a long time until, ’til Felicity’s character kills you,” I would’ve said, “yeah, let’s do it.” I’m, I’m glad he didn’t say that, but it I would’ve said yes because this film has a lovely message behind it’s about people getting involved and taking control of their reality, you know?
And of shaping the reality. And we need that in this world that is going crazy now. And we also need to live different as a society and understand the diversity, culture and racial diversity- it just makes us stronger and richer. There’s a great thing there for us to find so let’s live different as a society.
Making a film takes so much time of your life. It’s so challenging and risky. You don’t wanna be three years talking about something that doesn’t mean anything to you.
How do you feel about being part of a film where your kids will be watching you?
Sadly, my son already knows what the film is about and everything. You know what 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 shouldn’t have. I was watching from the dressing rooms or the inside of the theater. I understood that the representation of this fiction, that it has to look real but doesn’t mean it’s real. I invited my kids to witness this process 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. 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? He’s so excited about this movie.
I like telling this story because it’s true. This film is important for me as an actor for many reasons, but one is because it connects me with the kid I was, you know?
At seven years old I saw the, A New Hope. I saw it because I wanted to belong to the world of my cousins. All of my cousins were playing something I didn’t get. I wanted to be part of that universe and to be able to be part of that gang. It also connects me with my kids as a parent. And as a fan, it connects me with my son, you know?
I share the excitement, with him. When we were watching The Force Awakens, we were there holding hands and enjoying the moment. I wasn’t the dad there. It was two pals watching a film, and that was very sweet.
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. That’s when they invited to do TV.
And I would say that those first years of doing TV, they were difficult in my life. I’m so glad I survived because the fame that TV brings is quite unhealthy. It’s, 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. It didn’t happen to me. I worked to be here.
On television, that’s not the case. 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, you know? It’s a weird thing to digest, and then when you’re getting used to it’s gone, and you go like, “What? Oh, now you don’t care? No, there’s a new one move away, there’s someone else.” I don’t find that healthy. But cinema is different. 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.
Did you have to train for your role?
First I went to the gym, a place I didn’t like before. They put you on a whole program they were even taking care of my sleep. The schedule was necessary because I’ve never worked seven months in a film this intense. Every day we were doing something crazy- running, jumping, and climbing. They were hardcore scenes. Gareth likes things to happen. He doesn’t like pretending. He goes, like, “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,” and you have to make it work. And he gave us military training for two weeks.
And I spent a, a lot of time with them and that was very helpful. But he thought a soldier was gonna come back from the two weeks of training. And I’m like, no, that takes years.
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.
What was it like to keep working on Rogue One a secret?
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, but imagine you’re a fan, and they tell you, oh, come here. You, you, you’re gonna go live this amazing experience of actually live that, that world from the inside, but you cannot tell anyone. And you go, like, no, that’s a dream. It’s not happening until I tell my best friend. It’s not real until I until I share this with my father.
*I attended a Rogue One press event sponsored by Disney. All opinions are my own.