This story about Andy Serkis and “Andor” was first published in the drama edition of TheWrap awards magazine.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Andy Serkis was already a part of “Star Wars”.
Using the magic of motion capture, the actor portrayed Snoke, the gnarled heir to the evil Galactic Emperor, in JJ Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” So it came as a surprise when Serkis, in human form, appeared 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 also holds Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Loy is a gruff enforcer who is slowly radicalized by Andor and his escape plan. In just three episodes, Serkis realizes the kind of fully formed arc that actors can spend an entire season chasing.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi was strangely polarizing.” Were there any concerns about returning to the franchise?
Yes absolutely. I thought, are the fans going to start thinking, is Kino Loy related to Snoke? I would still love to see Snoke return. I think he’s a really interesting character, someone who has a tremendous amount of power but is losing it. We see what happens when dictators lose power, how desperate they get. I think there is something interesting there.
How did Tony first introduce you to the character?
I was deeply shocked when they approached me. I loved “Rogue One.” I like that more complex and grounded version of “Star Wars” as I love the operatic scale and the creatures. As soon as I read the script (“Andor”), I thought, this is such a great world, such a great allegory. It feels very contemporary, real. And I love the character arc. After I got the fact that it might be confusing for fans, I was like, yeah, this is a great character.
But you almost didn’t take on the role, did you?
I was in the middle of a “Venom” post and preparing “Animal Farm” (an animated adaptation of George Orwell’s 1945 classic that Serkis is directing). He was a very busy time. And I thought, do I really have time to do justice? But it was a great experience.
Can you talk about your character arc within the episodes?
I loved the idea of a principled man. I made up a backstory for Kino being a shop steward, someone who is used to fighting on behalf of workers’ rights. He has the highest good for the people in his heart. Maybe that’s how they put him in jail, because he was an agitator. And then he loses that fight and just focuses on surviving. He cuts himself and is out for number one. There is a part of himself that hates, but it is absolutely necessary to be that person to get ahead. And then turning humanity back on by meeting Cassian. He sees the world closing in around him. Maybe they won’t go out. I love that moment of realizing that he finds himself again. That ultimately becomes something sacrificed.
What did you think of the revelation that in prison all of you were building parts for the Death Star?
It’s such a brilliant idea. But I had already figured it out because my son had the LEGO model (of the Death Star).
What has it been like to see the response to the show and specifically to your character?
I was amazed. I love watching “Andor”, I thought it was a great, great series. But my first exposure to the character’s response was at a Tokyo Comic-Con. All these people in prison outfits showed up, and I was like, how has this become so fast?