For ‘Andor’ Star Diego Luna, Being a Producer Was a Dealbreaker: ‘I Want to Be There When My Opinion Matters’

TheWrap magazine: “There’s no project I’ve been part of where I feel the team cares so much about what we’re doing,” the actor/producer said

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Lucasfilm/Disney+

This story about Diego Luna and “Andor” first appeared in the Down to the Wire: Drama and Limited Series issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.

Though “Andor” may bear the name of just one man, at its heart it is a series about collaboration and community. This couldn’t be more true for Diego Luna, who portrays the title character, Cassian Andor, but who received his first Emmy nomination because he’s also one of the show’s executive producers.

Luna stresses that pulling the show together was an enormous collective undertaking, thanks in part to its scope as a continuation of the “Star Wars” universe, and also because production took place under COVID-19 safety regulations. But all of that effort paid off on July 12 when the series earned eight Emmy nominations, including a coveted nod for Outstanding Drama Series.

“I was very happy for all the nominations, but the one that made me the most happy was Best Drama, because it celebrates the work of everyone,” Luna said in an interview he did in his capacity as a producer, and before the beginning of the SAG-AFTRA strike. “I know it sounds cliché, but there’s no project I’ve been part of where I feel the team cares so much about what we’re doing — the big picture, the story, the soul of the project.”

A prequel series to the 2016 film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Andor” ostensibly focuses on Luna’s character and how he’s drawn into the rebel fight against the oppressive regime of the galactic emperor. But in reality, its scope is much larger than the tale of just one man. Instead, the series expands across the galaxy and folds in all the friends, enemies and co-conspirators he meets along the way.

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Photographed by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap

Luna comes by his commitment to craft and behind-the-scenes work honestly, with his interest starting at a very young age and very close to home.

“My father was a set designer and I was always very curious of that process and his work in theater, where things are just ideas that are discussed around the table,” he said. “Those ideas become sketches and then slowly, slowly, they start taking life and become a play, an opera, a movie. As an actor, I love my job, but I’m the kind of actor that wants to stay longer at the end of the day and is curious about the process of others. I don’t believe in this bubble that keeps the actors away from the actual experiences of others.

“And with this show, I never would have thought of doing it unless I was invited to the whole journey.”

The decision to serve as a producer comes in part from the level of commitment a series like “Andor” requires, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic.

“It’s been five years of my life,” he said. “Five years where I’ve learned a lot and I feel very much involved. I got my hands dirty.” He laughed. “I’m really proud of everything we’ve done. I understand every decision. I’m in love with the process of all the creatives around this job, and I want to be there when my opinion matters. I always have an opinion, but many times as an actor, your opinion comes when it’s too late. You’re on set and things have been decided. Here, I was invited to raise questions from the beginning. That’s the only way I could see myself being involved with a project that takes five years.”

Serving as a producer also allowed Luna to have a say in who was hired, both on-screen and behind the scenes. “There is a diversity that the show reflects in front of the camera that is also happening behind the camera, and I get involved with that,” he said.

And he hopes to keep it that way on future projects.

“Three days ago I was shooting with a [director of photography] that I’ve worked with in Mexico on the last projects I’ve done,” he said. “That DOP is a very strong voice in my country and I had the opportunity to talk about his work and the work of other filmmakers, directors and artists that I admire from the world I come from. I can bring that to the table.”

Read more from the Down to the Wire: Drama and Limited Series issue here.

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Illustration by Becki Gill for TheWrap