'Rogue One' hero Diego Luna grew up on 'Star Wars' — now, so will his kids

Brian Truitt

NEW YORK — Before Diego Luna was in fact a Star Wars fan, he yearned to be one as a 6-year-old growing up in Mexico City around relatives who adored the adventures of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo — heroic annals in which Luna himself is now entrenched.

'Rogue One' star Diego Luna first became a 'Star Wars' fan at age 6.

“I remember wanting to like (Star Wars) and wanting to be part of the world of my grown-up cousins. I watched it, I became part of that clan and since then I’ve been a huge fan,” says Luna, 36, who stars as Rebel Alliance intelligence officer Capt. Cassian Andor in the standalone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

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The movie (in theaters Thursday night) takes place just before the original trilogy of films from Luna’s youth. Cassian is tasked with leading a group that risks Rebel lives to steal secret plans for the Empire’s Death Star, a mega-weapon that threatens entire planets, though he’s initially suspicious of new recruit Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones).

However, Cassian is in the intergalactic spy game, where distrust is usually part of the gig. The character is cold-blooded when it comes to informants, has done some questionable things for the good guys, but it’s all in order to bring freedom and change for the cause.

“It’s not the James Bond approach, where you know he’s having fun and getting the girl and the martinis. No, this guy hates his job,” Luna says. “He would love to not be doing this and when we find him in this film, it starts to be a little painful. But he’s (emotionally) wounded and he’ll do anything.”

Capt. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, right) is initially suspicious of new Rebel recruit Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones).

He helped develop the character’s personality and backstory with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, and the filmmaker admired the vulnerability that Luna brought to Cassian. “It’s more relatable when you can see the humanity,” Edwards says. “True strength is when, despite the fact that you want to stop and you fear you might not win, you keep going.”

Luna had his big cinematic break in the Oscar-nominated 2001 Mexican drama Y Tu Mamá También, starring alongside childhood friend Gael García Bernal. The actor has three upcoming big-screen projects — the dystopian cannibal thriller The Bad Batch, the animated Ferdinand and a Flatliners sequel — and while he’s the one usually begging audiences to go see his movies, it’s the opposite with the high-profile Rogue One.

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“It is amazing but I don’t want to get used to this, because this just happens when your title says Star Wars," Luna says. "I might now call all my films Star Wars something.”

una acknowledges getting "the chills" when watching the other saga films with his two children. The actor received a box of Rogue One toys and he gave a Cassian action figure to his 8-year-old son Jerónimo. He then went to hand one to his 6-year-old daughter Fiona, but she grabbed a Jyn instead and yelled, “This is mine!”

“I was like, ‘You don’t want Daddy?’ ‘No, no, no. OK, yes, Dad, give it to me.’ And she put in the corner of her room and Jyn became her toy,” Luna recalls with a wide grin. “It’s exciting to be able to share my job with them.”