Star Wars: Andor's Genevieve O'Reilly on Fleshing Out Mon Mothma

The Rebellion is just beginning on Star Wars: Andor. The prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — taking place five years before Rebel Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) helps steal the plans for the Empire's planet-destroying super weapon, the Death Star — will reveal the origins of the Rebel Alliance. It will also flesh out the leader behind it: Republic senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly). As the mysterious spy Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) grows the revolution in the Imperial era, it's with the backing of Mon Mothma, serving the galactic government on the planet of Coruscant.

"We've met Mon Mothma before in different iterations, in different versions of the Star Wars storytelling, and each time we've [seen] this kind of composed, regal, dignified woman," O'Reilly, who portrayed the character in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, said during a recent press conference. "I think what's extraordinary about how [series creator] Tony [Gilroy] has written Andor and where he has chosen to begin this story is so very different to where we find Mon Mothma in Rogue One. She is still that very dignified senator, but for the first time, we get to see the woman behind the role. We get to see the private face of Mon Mothma."

In the first 12 episodes of the two-season limited series, "We get to flesh out not just the senator, not just the would-be leader of a Rebel Alliance, but also…We see a woman who has had to navigate her ideals and her beliefs within systems of oppression. We find her in a bit of a gilded cage."

O'Reilly added: "What I'm excited for is for us to travel that story with her, to journey with her as a woman finding her voice, and reaching for voices that are fighting for similar things, finding community, finding collaborators to be able to eventually be the leader that she becomes in Rogue One."

Caroline Blakiston originated the role of the Rebel leader in 1983's Return of the Jedi, with O'Reilly appearing in a larger capacity in Rogue One and the animated Star Wars Rebels. According to Gilroy, who returns to the Star Wars galaxy for the first time since 2016 film Rogue One, O'Reilly's Mon Mothma has a sizable role to play in the spy-thriller about the birth of the Rebel Alliance as we know it in A New Hope

"She's very enigmatic in all the previous incarnations," Gilroy said in a press brief. "People don't have any idea how complicated and difficult Mon Mothma's life has been—her character in many ways has the hardest road of our whole show, what she goes through and the pressure on her. She's this woman who's trapped in a box with everybody watching her, and she has this incredibly potent secret life where she's put herself at great risk by supporting the rebellion."

He added: "There's no freedom from anxiety in this woman's life, and yet she has to not only endure, but she also has to thrive."

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New episodes of Star Wars: Andor are streaming Wednesdays on Disney+.