Andy Serkis worried his Andor character might 'confuse the hell out of the fans'

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Andor episode 10.

Does any actor have a more enviable career than Andy Serkis? The 58-year-old British performer and director has had a hand in probably every nerdy franchise you've loved in the last 20 years — from The Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes to Marvel and DC. He's also a key figure in the Star Wars universe, playing not one but two distinct characters. Serkis first starred as the sinister Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, playing the gold-robed baddie via performance capture. Now he's returning to a galaxy far, far away with Andor, this time using his own face as the stoic inmate Kino Loy.

Serkis' role was kept under wraps, so his appearance in the eighth episode came as a welcome surprise. When Cassian (Diego Luna) first arrives on the prison planet Narkina 5, he soon comes face to face with the gruff Kino, another detainee who's part inmate, part no-nonsense prison warden. Even though Kino is incarcerated himself, it's his job is to oversee his fellow prisoners. Together they labor to build mysterious contraptions for the oppressive Empire. Kino is the kind of commanding presence who can force his peers to toe the line, but he's also eager to keep his own head down and quietly serve out his sentence — at least until he learns that the Empire has no intention of releasing him.

Serkis stopped by EW's weekly Star Wars podcast, Dagobah Dispatch, to talk about returning for Andor — and whether he might come back for a third time.

Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in 'Andor'
Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in 'Andor'

Lucasfilm Ltd. Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in 'Andor'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A lot of people would die to be in Star Wars once, and here you are for your second time. What was it about this character that made you say yes?

ANDY SERKIS: To be honest, when I was first offered the opportunity, I kind of thought, "Oh no, this is really going to confuse the hell out of the fans." [Laughs] There already were all these Snoke theories going around, so now what's going to happen? But I was such a huge fan of Rogue One and Tony Gilroy's writing anyway, and he's such an amazing storyteller. We talked about the character and the journey and the arc of the character, and I just loved where he was coming from. This man is serving time. He doesn't want to ruffle any feathers. He knows what's going on is sinister, but he's sort of closing everything off to get through being desensitized on a daily basis.

I wanted to create a backstory for him. I supposed that he was a man — previously, before he was incarcerated — who actually really cared about his workforce. He was probably a shop steward or a foreman who was used to running factory lines, but he was put in prison for no reason other than that he was perhaps outspoken about workers' rights, for instance. Then he finds himself in this situation where he's wrongly imprisoned and has no change of getting out, and he discovers that if he just keeps his head down and doesn't question anything, he will be released. He believes that he will be released, and he just focuses on that. I thought there was something inherently sad about that. He's been taken away from his family. He doesn't think about anything to do with rebelling. Then suddenly this force walks in, and Cassian Andor tries to muck the whole thing up.

It's interesting because we don't really learn much about Kino's backstory or where he came from. I like your idea that he has this background as a worker.

I just felt it was really necessary to have something tangible that he hangs on to. The environment that we filmed in, I mean, that set was amazing, but it was really desensitizing. The prison outfit was just being barefooted on metal plates for weeks and weeks. It really does strange things to your head. There's a lack of any sort of proper personal space. It's not even a modern-day prison cell, where you get to communicate with other prisoners or read library books or watch a film. There were no creature comforts at all. So being on that set day in and day out really did things to your head.

That was something I wanted to ask you about. The practical sets on this show are so impressive. What was your reaction the first time you stepped on to that prison set?

It was beautifully designed. I mean, the design work was incredible, especially the factory floor and the way all those mechanisms worked for real. The way that the parts are being constructed, there was a definite regime that everyone had to learn. It was a really complicated system. It was mind-blowing to be on those sets and see everything working.

Andy Serkis and Diego Luna in 'Andor'
Andy Serkis and Diego Luna in 'Andor'

Lucasfilm Ltd. Andy Serkis and Diego Luna in 'Andor'

I also wanted to ask about that great moment during the prison break when Kino gets on the loudspeaker and gives that speech to the other inmates. What do you remember most about filming that sequence?

Obviously there was a huge build-up to that moment. By then you've seen the arc of his journey and the fact that he's pushing against Cassian, who's pushing him forward to question what's going on. He doesn't want to believe it because he really thinks that the end is in sight, if he just keeps his head down. But that moment is just like a trigger switch. Once he realizes there's no chance of ever being released, it really does become about the power of the individual to change the future of others. He locks back into that self-awareness, or awareness of the fact that you actually can inspire and change the fortune of others if you risk it and are prepared to stand up for everyone. We are living in a world where we are seeing people standing up for what they believe is true, and it just resonated with so many things that are going on in our world. So it felt very tangible in that respect.

You've been in the Star Wars universe as an actor now twice. Would you ever want to direct something in this space?

Oh, naturally. Of course. I mean, it's just the most extraordinary, beautiful environment to work in. And as I say, I love stories that are true. What I loved about this particularly is the connection to the real world and the way that Star Wars uses metaphor to tell stories. So yeah. Who wouldn't?

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