Andor Actors Kyle Soller And Denise Gough On Their 'Dangerous' New Characters [Exclusive Interview]

For a variety of reasons, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" remains one of the most beloved projects set within the sci-fi franchise during the Disney era. Primarily, it is just an exceptionally good "Star Wars" movie. But digging a little deeper, so much of it has to do with exploring that specific time period in the galaxy. The Empire truly feels as though it has a stranglehold on everything, and that adds a gritty feel to the universe that we hadn't explored all that much prior. Luckily, we're going back to that corner of a galaxy far, far away in "Andor," a new TV series coming to Disney+ in September.

As the title of the show implies, it will focus on Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, serving as a prequel to the 2016 movie. That means we are really going to be seeing the Empire at its most dominant, since the Rebellion was merely in the earliest stages of forming at this time. Consequently, we're going to need new Imperial officers to help impose the Empire's will on the galaxy. Two of those new Imperials are Kyle Soller ("Poldark") as the dedicated Syril Karn, and Denise Gough ("Under the Banner of Heaven") as the ruthless Dedra Meero.

I had the good fortune of speaking with both Soller and Gough in anticipation of the show's release. They were kind enough to pull back the curtain on these characters, explaining what makes them unique and what ties them together, among other things.

'I approached it like I approached any new writing'

Hey, how are you doing?

Soller: Good, man. How are you doing?

Gough: Ryan, you're very perky.

Well, here's the thing: I love "Star Wars." It means the world to me. And now I get to speak to some people who are part of it. So, why not be perky?

Gough: Oh my God.

Soller: Oh, man.

Gough: That is gorgeous, Ryan.

Soller: That's so cool.

Gough: Thank you so much.

Of course. So if I may start out, just on that point, everyone comes to "Star Wars" in their own way. I was indoctrinated at a young age and it's as close as I have to religion, but where did "Star Wars" come in for both of you guys? How did you find your way to it?

Soller: It wasn't so much indoctrination, but it was definitely on repeat in my childhood home on the weekends. We burned out the VHS tapes, me and my older brothers. That original trilogy. I just remember all my friends were watching it as well. It was just a big fixture in my childhood.

Gough: So I came to "Star Wars" when I got this part. I grew up in the west of Ireland. We didn't have a video player or anything. So we would get brought to the cinema and I wanted to see "Batman." That was my choice and I stand by that choice. So I am entering the world of "Star Wars" and I'm having to already apologize to the fans that I don't know more. I promise I will study. I probably won't [laughs]. I'm sorry. I won't. I figure that because I'm in a prequel that begins the whole thing, it's not really good for me to know what's going to happen.

Soller: Or what's come before.

Gough: Or what's come before, because you don't know in real life. You do know what's before. Listen, I'm at "Star Wars" now and happy to be here.

What is that like, though, for you specifically, Denise, coming into this thing that you know people love? It's gigantic. What's that like for you coming into it now as a big part of it, but not necessarily having been a fan of it?

Gough: Well, I think it's better for me not to have had — I approached it like I approached any new writing, and felt really, really grateful and lucky that I was going to get to work on something that had such great writing. Because, usually, you only get that standard of writing — there's some great TV now that is brilliant writing, but for a long time, that sort of writing happened on stage with the old classic, great writers.

For me, approaching this like I would a new play and ignoring the fact that there was this whole gigantic-ness around it allowed me to just do the job. Then when I got to the set, it was obvious when I was given two Death Troopers, I was like, "Okay, this is amazing." Then I do remember walking around this made set and opening cupboards in shops, and finding more things in there and space pool tables and bars. I was blown away by the level of detail. But it's really only this last couple of weeks that I've realized I'm in "Star Wars" and it's as gigantic as everybody says it is. I don't think I believed you.

'He's so bitter about what he hasn't achieved'

Kyle, your character, Syril Karn, is an Imperial officer of course, but in a way that I'm not sure that we've ever really seen: You have this almost ruthless devotion to getting away from the bureaucracy and everything, just a hard-nosed guy in that way. You really seem to believe in this. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you formulated that character, and his place within the system?

Soller: Yeah. So, one of the earlier ways that was really useful was just an offhanded comment one of the directors was making about a reference photo they were using for me to try and mock up different hairstyles. He was like, "This one's really good. It looks like you're chewing on a wasp." And I was like, "That's him." He's so bitter about what he hasn't achieved, what he hasn't been given in life, his placement, his station, that he's just trying to transcend that in the most ruthless, as you say, way possible. And his devotion to a cause that he believes in, of order and of quite harsh rule comes from this place of...

Gough: Lack.

Soller: Yeah. Huge lack that he experienced in his home life, which you get a little bit of taste of in the series. As he is finding his way, he crosses paths with Dedra and then realizes, "Ah, two is better than one."

Gough: Yeah. It's funny, isn't it? Because it's like she galvanizes part of him in a way that he needs it just at that exact time.

Soller: Yeah, exactly.

Gough: And he offers her — which she's resistant to initially — he offers her somebody who's going to absolutely support her in her ruthlessness, because she's a woman in this man's world and keeps getting quite patronized and reminded that she is not really supposed to be there. And yet then she has this guy, who doesn't see that "she's a girl" thing. He's just like, "She's power."

Soller: Yeah.

Gough: Which galvanizes her. So it's like a meeting of two really dangerous, insecure people.

Soller: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And we have a mutual obsession, which is Cassian. A real deep obsession with this rule breaker who doesn't ascribe to what we believe in.

Gough: And nobody else seems to hear. I am fighting for that to be heard so much. Then I meet someone who's going, "Yeah, you're right." Whoa. Then they become formidable.

Soller: They feel seen by each other.

Gough: Yeah, totally.

"Andor" premieres on Disney+ on September 21, 2022.