A great story, spellbinding visual effects, and memorable characters have always been the hallmark of the Star Wars franchise, and if Andor, the the live-action series starring Diego Luna, is no exception. Tony Gilroy and his crew, who originally worked on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where the character of Cassian Andor was first introduced, have spent much time and care making the series as exceptional as possible.
In order to capture the chaotic early days of the Rebellion, in which Andor turns from being a thief into a Rebel spy, the cast had to become inundated with lore, costumes had to be made, and an entire town had to be constructed. Behind-the-scenes of Andor is as thrilling as its premise!SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
An Entire Town Was Constructed
Large sets are commonly built for Star Wars movies, but this time an entire city was built for Andor called Frennix. A bustling market-city full of junkyards, shipyards, taverns, and gambling halls, it rivals Mos Eisley as a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" and it's where Andor does most of his dealing before joining the Rebellion.
This giant undertaking took months to complete, as this behind-the-scenes featurette explains, and works to both transport the actors and the fans to that galaxy far, far away. Not only does it make the series look cinematic, but it also appears far more tangible than even anything on The Volume.
It Ditched The Volume
The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi are two live-action series known to use The Volume, a giant LED backdrop that allows actors and film crew to see the environments behind them, and in some cases, gives them a 360-degree view of where they are. Not only is it immersive for everyone on set, it makes filming easier.
In an interview with Empire, Tony Gilroy explained that for this series, they decided to ditch The Volume entirely and use actually constructed sets, like the city of Frennix. He thought that there was an earthy, authentic quality to having the real sets there, and considering Andor has lengthier seasons than either of the other two live-action series, it makes sense to keep these sets up.
The Actors Loved Interacting With Real Things
Star Wars movies are known for the very lived-in galaxy far, far away that George Lucas created with the premiere of A New Hope in 1977. His was not a futuristic galaxy that looked as sterile and officious as an Apple Store, but one that looked like it was inhabited by real beings.
In the same interview with Empire, star Diego Luna explained that interacting with his environment as an actor was a beautiful thing because "everything is mechanical" and feels real. Fiona Shaw, who plays his adoptive mother Maarva on the series, added, "My character's house is built from parts of old spaceships. I used to go out and just stare at it."
Some Filming Locations Were Perilous To Reach
Past Star Wars movies have been filmed in some pretty inhospitable locations, such as Tunisia doubling for the sandy planet Tatooine, and Greenland doubling for the frozen planet Hoth. It's surprising these days for a modern series to film in places that might endanger cast and crew, considering filming schedules can be tight. Locations confirmed for Andor like Coruscant can be filmed on sound stages.
Also in Empire, Luna described having to hike "hours up a mountain to set up one shot" in Pitlochry, Scotland, which was not only a huge effort for the cast but "really dangerous." As perilous as it was, he also described it as "being on another planet." Andor's real life is fraught with danger, so perhaps Luna was simply getting into character.
Some Real Locations Were Simply Altered
When sets can't be constructed, sometimes it's necessary to scout locations and choose a place that looks like it could use a sci-fi facelift. E&E Industries at Pinewood Studios, long associated with the Star Wars film series, was used to make that happen when Andor needed a market square.
According to The Blackpool Gazette, some real-life locations like Cleveleys seafront were given new doors and windows or painted to resemble a place in the Star Wars universe. What makes that promising for fans is that eventually, they'll be able to visit some filming locations and get a sense of what the actors felt.
Actors Liked To Situate Their Characters In The Space
With such a great set like the city of Frennix, it's not surprising that the principal cast found themselves just wandering around. Adria Arjona, who plays Bix Caleen, an old associate of Andor's, recently told Collider that she often liked to trace the "morning route" her character would take walking to work in between scenes she was filming.
It's fortunate that the actors have the ability to situate themselves in the space so well, especially considering so many actors during the prequel-era had to perform in front of green screens with nothing to ground them. No doubt it helps the cast feel like their characters are real people, no matter how fantastical their circumstances.
It Has Over 200 Named Cast Members
Pause any Star Wars movie and there are usually crowd scenes full of humans, aliens, and droids, but the recent live-action series have felt less populated. Andor feels very cinematic in the sense because it boasts an unusually large cast, and not purely made up of CGI renderings, either.
Andor has over 200 named cast members, which not only includes its biggest names like Diego Luna or Forest Whitaker, but even extras who have been given a name and a function. It's this attention to detail that makes it seem like the creative team behind the series is taking their work seriously and attempting to put out the best content possible without cutting corners.
It Uses Practical Creature Effects And Hand-Sewn Costumes
Andor certainly has been setting a trend of returning to practical effects and hand-sewn costumes which, in this age of streaming where platforms compete with impressive costume dramas like House of the Dragon is a major commitment. These aspects are much more tedious to create and require a lot more time, but the results are worth the labor onscreen for their believability.
Andor costumes were on display at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, highlighting the Herculean effort that went into dressing that part of the galaxy. From the hand-dyed and hand-sewn robes of the Imperial Senators like Mon Mothma, to the droids and the creatures made by the FX department, the display showcased superior craftsmanship to rival any series out today.
Denise Gough And Kyle Soller Appreciated Playing Conflicted Villains
Imperials can often either be stuffy bureaucrats or one-dimensional fascists, but Denise Gough and Kyle Soller portray the antagonists in Andor and insist they're anything but the typical uniformed Star Wars villain. They may look the part, but they're hardly the most terrifying Imperial officers in the franchise.
Speaking to ScreenRant they both explained how refreshing it was to portray conflicted villains who, from their perspective, felt like they were doing the right thing. And, even when it became apparent that they might be on the wrong side, they navigated the character development that comes from that sort of growth. This is a promising move away from power-hungry figures like Moff Gideon and into less-traveled territory in the canon.
Genevieve O'Reilly Explored Mon Mothma's Pain
"Many Bothans died to bring us this information," is Mon Mothma's most famous line in Return of the Jedi, and the quote feels so poignant. Only the famous Alliance leader herself knows the true cost of lives it took to bring news of the Emperor's shield generator on Endor, and it seems as though the pain of that loss is added to a giant weight on her shoulders.
Genevieve O'Reilly, who portrayed Mon Mothma in Rogue One always wanted to explore the sacrifices that this mysterious, poised figure had to make in her life to get to where audiences find her in that movie. Navigating the glittering bureaucracy of Senate life in Coruscant in the Empire era, as she tries to drum up sympathy for the Rebellion, will be fascinating with O'Reilly's clear commitment to the character.
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