Diego Luna’s career has spanned many decades. He first began his trek to stardom on Mexican Television. I still remember him on a famous Soap Opera I use to watch with my grandmother every weekday night. However, as Diego has grown so have his roles, a few years back I loved his role in the movie Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights where he plays the main character Javier who shows off his dancing movies as a Cuban who just wants to enjoy music and love during a tumultuous revolutionary period. However, one of his most acclaimed roles was in the Famous yet Very Adult Film” Y Tu Mama Tambien” A film that really threw him into the “Entertainment World Spotlight” So when I saw the first preview to Rogue One and saw Diego was cast as one of the main characters Cassian Andor I wasn’t surprised. Honestly, I wondered what took so long! We recently sat down during my Rogue One Press Event to talk with Diego Luna and I was excited to discuss aspects of the film with him along with as well as the road to Rogue One.
I’m not going to lie, as a Hispanic I get extremely excited to see fellow Hispanics hit it big on the American Film Industry. It always feels like a part of you is up there, so meeting them face to face is always an amazing treat. I always feel like there’s a connection because of our background and our upbringing. This was no disappointment.
Since we only saw 28 minutes of footage the first question that came to mind was for him to tell us more about his Character Cassian Andor.
“He’s a captain, an intelligence officer for the rebellion. He’s a pretty damned good rebellious captain, you know? He’s in charge of the most important mission for the rebellion and he has to make sure this thing works together. But he’s a spy, so he’s quite a mysterious man. He has a lot of information he would like to forget, you know? He doesn’t like war but he believes in the cause and would do anything for the cause. He’s ready to sacrifice everything and he’s a true hero. He’s the kind of hero we could all be. He doesn’t have special powers; he’s no Jedi, no. He’s just a man with conviction knows that working together as a team makes you stronger. So that’s Cassian.
Diego has been involved in many films about conviction and righting the wrong, such as Cesar Chavez. Films that are rebellious in nature, yet always trying to find a way to help the good causes. In a way, his character Cassian is trying to fight an evil empire. I wanted to know how did working on all these projects help him prepare for this film. Since he’s fighting the ultimate evil in this movie.
Yeah, the first film of Star Wars,in fact, it’s theme is freedom, uh, you know? And, uh, and I, living in Mexico, and growing there, I see beautiful things. I see & I hear amazing stories, but there’s also a contrast there, you know? And those who have are very few, but they have a lot. We have one of the richest men on the planet in a country that has so much poverty. So that contrast shaped my view to me this point of view helped me get it all out on the table and make sure and share it with others. I do this in a way to generate a debate and have things start from there. When Gareth sat down with me and he started talking about the film, and about the theme, and about the rebellion, and about the moment in the history of Star Wars when this happens, I suddenly was listening like if it was a speech.I knew I would join even if just as a fan, just as part of the crew, or whatever, you know?
If he would’ve said, like, oh, I want you to, to be a Storm Trooper and just wear that outfit and, and be miserable for quite a long time ’til Felicity’s character kills you, I would’ve said yeah, let’s do it. I’m glad he didn’t said that, but it I would’ve said yes because I think film has a lovely message about people getting involved and taking control of their reality, you know?And of shaping the reality. And we need that in this world that is going crazy now. We need also to live different as a society and understand the diversity,culture and racial diversity- it just makes us stronger and richer, you know, and that there’s, there’s a great thing there for us to find, yeah, let’s live different as a society and, and just do it, you know? Film take so much time of your life. It’s so challenging; it’s so risky, also, uh, suddenly, uh, everyone has an opinion, in a second and that’s tough to take so you don’t wanna do it about a theme you don’t care about, you know? You don’t wanna be three years talking about something that doesn’t mean anything to you.”
For Diego this isn’t just a Film project about making a change but about connecting with his kids.
“At seven years old; six years old, I saw A New Hope I saw it because I wanted to belong to the world of my cousins, you know? All of my cousins were playing something I, I didn’t get. I wanted to be part of that universe and, and be able to, to be able to be part of that gang, you know? And, and, yeah, belong to that. So, but it also connects me with my kids as a parent, you know? And as a fan, it connects me with my son, you know?
I share the excitement, uh, with him. When we were watching The Force Awakens, we were there holding hands, and enjoying the moment, you know? It wasn’t me, like, okay, let’s, let’s watch this cartoon, and let’s talk about what they’re saying, and like, I wasn’t the dad there. It was two pals watching a film, and that was very sweet. So all of this to say, what did I wanted to say? [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] Yeah, the work; now I remember, the, the work.
Like my, my work is something that, uh, it has always separate me- separate us, you know? It represents something very negative to my kids. It’s what keeps me away. It’s that thing that I go do that they cannot be part of. And then I finish the films, and they cannot watch them, you know? It- none of my other films- I mean, I did show my son Cesar Chavez, um, but he just didn’t wanted to watch it. He fell asleep. But, uh, my, my stuff is not meant for them. Until I did The Book of Life, that’s the first film I could actually share with my, with my kids.
So this is a special, you know, because, uh, I, I am telling them, I’m going to work, and my son, instead of crying goes, like, yeah, yeah, go, go. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] I mean, you’ve gotta be on time, Dad, and make sure you do it right, please, uh, you know? Do what Gareth says. Don’t mess up. Yeah.
Then the inevitable question came up “So From Telenovelas to Star Wars,How did that happen?”
<Laughing> “You know If I answer this questions we will stay here in this room for the rest of the day. Basically, I don’t know how it happened.I have no idea. But I started at six years old doing theater, and then around ten, I did my first film and that’s when they invited me to do TV. I would say that those first years of doing TVthey were difficult in my life and I’m so glad I survived, you know? Because the fame that TV brings is quite unhealthy. It’s too fast. Everything happens too fast while in cinema, at least I’ve been working for two years for this to come out. So I’m ready for this moment, you know? It didn’t happen to me. I worked to be here.In television that’s not the case, you know? In television, you’re shooting something one day, and it airs the next day- the reaction hits you two days later, and then people forget the next Monday because there’s someone else in TV, you know? Its’ a weird thing to digest, and then when you’re getting used to it, it’s gone, and you go like, what? Oh, now you don’t care? No, there’s a new one- move, move away, there’s someone else. And, and I don’t find that healthy. Cinema is different, and it stays there, you know? You can always go back to that and, and remember where you were. It leaves a stamp, uh, and, uh, I feel just very lucky to be doing what I’m doing now.
There’s a big Physical Element to your role,How did you Train?
First, I went to the gym- a place I didn’t like before and they got me into a whole program they were even taking care of my sleep. It was necessary because I’ve never worked seven months in a film so intense and everyday we were doing something crazy- running, jumping, uh, climbing,there were hardcore scenes. Gareth really likes things to happen. He doesn’t like pretending. He goes, like, we’re gonna do this, so you’re gonna be running, and there’s gonna be explosions, and these guys are gonna be shooting from this angle, this from this other angle, and you have to make it work- how would you do it? And he gave us military training.
I had two weeks of a military training where I learned how to patrol, and I did a ride wit ex-militaries, and I was hearing all their stories. And I spent a, a lot of time with them and that was very helpful. But he actually thought I was going to come back as a soldier from these two weeks, and I was like NO! That takes years.He was like no, no, you’re the captain. Solve this. And I had to, like, okay, gonna do, and do, and then talk to, to Felicity and, and, and start to organize a plan, and then execute, and he would be following us- kind of this covering and improvising on the way, uh, reacting to what we were doing.So it was a free process. It’s was full of that feeling of not knowing what’s gonna happen which brings some interesting tension and gives you those little moments of vulnerability that Gareth was looking for.”
This film was something so exciting for Diego, not only because of the magnitude of the story,but there was so much secrecy involved. A general theme expressed by the cast was that they all became like family,because they were all sharing something that they couldn’t share with anyone. A story they couldn’t share with anyone and emotions that only belonged to them.
I am so excited about this movie and having sat down with Diego it brought so many things into perspective. It was a real treat. I can’t speak for him,but I know we were all extremely disappointment to end this interview. I can’t wait to see him as Cassian on the big screen and I look forward to seeing his career grow by leaps and bounds!
Make sure and check out the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story featurrette below where Diego talks more about what this role meant to him, and I know it will get you super excited for this film!
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ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!
All Pictures Courtesy of Lucas Films/Disney and Momstart