Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is just a day away from early release in theaters worldwide and while we we won’t share our review and spoilers discussions until Friday we can talk a little about some early footage we saw weeks earlier at the press junket for the film. At Skywalker Ranch in San Francisco we had the opportunity to watch 28 minutes of them movie twice and can read our impressions of it here.

It wasn’t spoiler-y and most of it came from the first act of the film, designed to give us enough to understand each Rogue One character in time for our interviews. Arguably the key figure of these scenes was Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a straight-up spy for the Rebel Alliance. He’s loyal, extremely dedicated and brave, and isn’t afraid to kill. It was Cassian’s scenes which emphasized the differences between Rogue One and other in-canon Star Wars stories. This movie is about war and it feels real.

It’s not pretty and perhaps even not for kids. This is the first thing I asked Diego Luna about when sitting down with him to discuss the Rogue One.

diego luna rogue one star wars Rogue One: A Star Wars Story   Diego Luna Interview

Cassian is an intelligence officer/spy but he’s also pretty brutal and violent. Can you talk about his personal stakes in this conflict?

Diego Luna: I wouldn’t say he’s violent. He’s just in the middle of war. He plays an important role here. He’s a spy that has to deal with a lot of information and this war is headed to a very cathartic moment. We’re talking about the Death Star here. It’s not just like a little conflict between two groups. This thing is huge and it’s got to be stopped. So he has to make choices along the way. And he’s a guy that is ready to go all the way for the cause. He’s ready to fight for the Rebellion no matter what’s in front and he’s not going to stop. And yeah, in war sometimes you have to make terrible decisions. You have to be a part of terrible things in order to bring peace and freedom – at least that’s the way he sees it.

How much of Cassian’s history or backstory was given to prepare for this character? Was he always in this mindset of being a rebel fighter?

Diego Luna: Yes, well… no. Most of these characters are wounded people. People that went through dramatic experiences in order to commit completely to this and to sacrifice everything. But… he’s a spy. You’re not allowed to know much about him. You. I can [laughs] but clearly all these characters have a very strong reasons to be there.

diego luna in rogue one featurette Rogue One: A Star Wars Story   Diego Luna Interview

When you first met Gareth [Edwards] and he pitched you to the story and this character, how much the character and his journey changed or evolved throughout process, the production and the reshoots and everything else?

Diego Luna: There was a big change happening, which is, I was going to play it, right? And when the character was given to me – the way Gareth likes working – I got my hands into it and I started shaping it so it could make sense and it could live in this body and share my emotions. I needed to understand the character and make it mine, I guess.

Gareth and everyone in the production were very open to make us part of the process. It was very cool because along the way, even while we were shooting, we were finding stuff and making it part of the film and affecting the story somehow. It wasn’t some film that was already drawn and you were just a puppet that arrives and they say, “Stand there and say your lines.” Here it was like, “Let’s find it. This is the space. This is what needs to happen. How do we approach this?” And we would start to find it and be patient, in order to find the right way to do it. With this film, there’s no chance to miss basically. You have everything you need to do a good film. You have anything you think you need. They’ll provided you with anything. So it’s about patience. It’s about working as a team and let the answers come.

That wraps it up. Cheers!

Next: Exclusive Rogue One Interview With Felicity Jones

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes 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.

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