Faye Marsay Researched Real Rebellions To Prepare For Her Star Wars Role In Andor [Exclusive]

This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of "Andor."

With three episodes left to its first season, "Andor" has been a total antithesis to other Star Wars offerings on Disney+. The series has opted to focus on the grounded struggle against the Empire, with a reluctant rebel at the center of it. If "Rogue One" was the first film to separate itself from the main series, "Andor" doubles down on what worked. There is a distinct commitment to developing the faces behind the rebellion, and framing the oppression they face as the greatest weapon the Empire has employed thus far. "Andor" does not shy away from the brutal nature of the early days of the rebellion — especially with the inclusion of a new rebel operative.

A rebellion leader at heart, Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) has been a secretive yet complex character. In the latest episode, it is revealed that Vel is in fact a rich girl running from her past. She is the cousin of Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) and comes from a wealthy family. However, Vel's oath to the rebellion is what grounds her to the struggle, only masquerading in the public eye as the upper class. Like many others in the series, Vel feels compelled to join the fight against the Empire for the greater good of the galaxy. And Marsay herself does not take the role for granted, pulling from our own reality to find the rebel within Vel.

The rebellion is real, folks

In an interview with /Film's Ethan Anderton, Marsay revealed she researched real-life rebellions in preparation for her role on "Andor":

"So I did a lot of looking at different groups. It's tricky because a lot of the literature around it calls them sort of terrorist organizations, because anything that opposes the main rule in some senses is classified as terrorism. I read a book called "Shoot the Women First," which I can't remember the author's name now, forgive me. But it was all about female-led rebellions within different parts of the world. Palestine or Ireland... So I did a lot of reading about that and about these women that felt compelled to be part of something bigger and to be part of a cause. That's kind of where I drew the inspiration for Vel in some ways."

There is a reason why Marsay felt compelled to look at real rebellions for inspiration, of course. The ultimate strength of "Andor" comes from its allegories to the world we live in. Much of the tumultuous journey — both physical and philosophical — the rebels find themselves on runs parallel to our own history. "Andor" showrunner Tony Gilroy does not mince ideas when tackling the specifics of rebellious efforts against a relentless machine of oppression. Outside real-life resistance movements, Marsay gives a bit of herself to the character, as well.

There is a rebel in all of us

If nothing else, "Andor" has thrived on the idea that a rebel lives in everyone, even if it manifests in different ways. Although it would seem like it'd be difficult for an actor to closely relate to their Star Wars counterpart, it's far easier to do with this series. Marsay concurs:

"There are parts of you that you would never really act out in real life that, all of a sudden, you're given this sort of free rein, in one sense, to explore. When I really believe in something, I really fight for it as Faye. So that was a really similar connection I had to Vel. Most people do. Most people, if they believe strongly enough about something and believe it's right, will stand up for it. So I enjoyed all that side of her."

The connection Marsay was able to forge with Vel is indicative of how committed "Andor" is to realism. The series often sets aside the cool Star Wars gimmicks to tap into its dramatic themes without any noise. Instead, more apparent than anything else in the show are the personal stakes that drive the rebellion to fruition. The vast canon of Star Wars stripped to the limits of human nature shouldn't work, but "Andor" proves that it does.

New episodes of "Andor" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.