This story about Andy Serkis and “Andor” first ran in the drama issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Andy Serkis was already a part of “Star Wars.”
Thanks to the magic of performance capture, the actor starred as Snoke, the gnarled heir apparent to the evil Galactic Emperor, in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” So it was a surprise when Serkis, in human form, popped up in “Andor,” Tony Gilroy’s live-action prequel series to 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Serkis plays Kino Loy, an inmate in an Imperial prison that is also holding Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Loy is a gruff enforcer who is slowly radicalized by Andor and his escape plan. In only three episodes, Serkis realizes the kind of fully formed arc actors can spend an entire season chasing.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi was weirdly polarizing.” Was there any trepidation about returning to the franchise?
Yes, absolutely. I thought, are fans going to start thinking, is Kino Loy related to Snoke? I’d still love to see Snoke come back. I think it’s a really interesting character—someone who has an enormous amount of power but who is losing it. We see what happens when dictators lose power, how desperate they get. I think there’s something interesting there.
How did Tony first present the character to you?
I was deeply shocked when I got approached. I loved “Rogue One.” I like that more complex, grounded version of “Star Wars,” as I love the operatic scale and the creatures. As soon as I read the (“Andor”) script, I just thought, this is such a great world, such a great allegory. It feels very contemporary, real. And I love the character’s arc. After I got my head around the fact that it might be confusing for fans, I just thought, yeah, this is a great character.
But you almost didn’t take the role, right?
I was in the middle of post on “Venom” and prepping “Animal Farm” (an animated adaptation of George Orwell’s 1945 classic that Serkis is directing). It was a very busy time. And I thought, do I really have the time to do this justice? But it was a great experience.
Can you talk about your character’s arc within the episodes?
I loved the idea of a man who was principled. I invented a backstory for Kino being a union shop steward, someone who is used to fighting on behalf of workers’ rights. He has the greater good for the people in his heart. That was perhaps how he was incarcerated, because he was a firebrand. And he then loses that fight and just focuses on survival. He cuts himself off and is out for number one. There’s a part of himself which he hates, but it’s totally necessary to be that person to get through. And then to have the humanity reignited by meeting Cassian. He sees the world closing in around him. Perhaps they’re not going to get out. I love that moment of realization that he finds himself again. That ultimately becomes a self-sacrificing thing.
What did you think of the reveal that in prison you all were building parts for the Death Star?
It is such a brilliant idea. But I’d already figured it out because my son had the LEGO model (of the Death Star).
How has it been watching the response to the show and specifically your character?
I was astonished. I love watching “Andor”—I thought it was a great, great series. But my first exposure to the response to the character was at a Tokyo Comic-Con. There were all these people in prison suits coming up, and I thought, how has this become a thing so quickly?