It’s helpful to have something that can ground you when your day job involves plotting a rebellion in a galaxy far, far away.
When he’s not playing the most wanted man by the Empire on Disney+’s “Andor,” Diego Luna finds his footing by returning to the theater.
From a young age, he accompanied his father, and the practice has been continuous throughout his professional life.
The actor says, “In a way, it had kept me sane,” when asked how filming Season 2 of “Andor” in London has affected him.
As one critic put it, the theater is “a terrific way to go back, put your feet on the ground, and remind yourself what this is all about.”
While waiting for season two to be filmed, he spent two months in Madrid directing a one-man show called “Cada vez nos despedimos major,” which featured only himself, a musician, and three lamps.
This was a far cry compared to the “Star Wars” universe, with its massive sets, legions of extras, and impossibly high standards.
On March 4 at the Miami Film Festival, Luna will be honored with the first-ever Variety Virtuoso Award for his ability to adapt to a wide range of project sizes throughout his career.
When he first started acting in Mexican films as a teenager, it was common practice for actors to use their clothes and vehicles in production.
It was common knowledge that “the last thing you would think about if you were asked to do cinema was getting paid,” he says.
He eventually landed on a project that garnered praise but didn’t call for any of his possessions. “And tu mamá también,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Luna, is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of Mexican cinema and a career-defining work for the director.
In the 22 years afterward, the actor, director, and producer have worked on a wide variety of projects, including prestige dramas (like “Frida”), animation hits (like “The Book of Love” and “Maya and the Three”), and several other television shows (like “Narcos: Mexico” and “Pan y Circo”).
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Yet, Luna needs to feel invested in the endeavor, whether on Earth or in the stars. “That’s the great thing about this job,” he says. Adding a personal touch to each project allows you to reflect on them like a collection of stamps to recall your journey.
The Resistance agent Cassian Andor initially introduced in the 2016 film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” has a stamp waiting for him.
Since he was interested in learning more about heroes like Cassian who sacrificed themselves for their cause, Luna returned for the “Andor” prequel series.
“What this character does in ‘Rogue One’ is truly incredible, and what we are developing demonstrates what needs to happen in someone’s life to be willing to sacrifice everything,” he explains.
“This has always struck me as the kind of story in which the individuals who bring about change—the folks you would even name heroes—are everyday people who manage to achieve something remarkable.”
Ending the “Andor” saga will be difficult. It will take about a year of filming and editing to complete all 24 episodes of the series. When Episode 6 premiered on Disney+ in October last year, he was still doing digital recording work on the Season 1 finale. The following month, production on Season 2 began.
It’s too late for a hangover, he jokes. “Every morning brings new opportunities” Even so, he plans to soak up as much as possible on the biggest platform of his career.
According to Luna, “Andor” is ending after this season. Importantly for my sanity, the show only has two seasons. But since I know this is my only chance, I intend to make the most of it.
After putting away Cassian’s blaster, Luna decides to take it easy for a while so that his brain can rest from the “Star Wars”-level mental acrobatics.
Hence, perhaps, a return to the stage for therapeutic purposes would be appropriate. Another thing I appreciate about theater is that you sleep in the same bed every night,” he says wryly.