Diego Luna is living out his childhood dreams in the star wars‘prequel, Andor.
Playing the lead role of Cassian Andor on the show, Luna, 42, speaks with PEOPLE in this week’s issue about what it’s like to be in the star wars universe after growing up as a fan of the franchise.
“I still feel like a lucky kid who suddenly got to play in the playground he dreamed of. It’s that kind of feeling because I grew up with this universe,” Luna says. “It’s been so deeply part of my past, that being asked to do what I love most in this universe is something I’ll never get used to. And I shouldn’t.”
“I’m always going to be excited in a very specific way [that] I can’t be excited about another job,” he continues. “But it also means something very important in that what seemed like a very big risk pays off.”
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Luna “has made many jokes about all the possibilities” of telling Cassian’s story since starring in the 2016 standalone film A thug [A Star Wars Story]admitting that at the time, “we had no idea if it was going to work or not.”
“I had no idea. We were taking risks. We were doing a different show…There’s no Jedis around…they’re just regular people,” he explains. “At the same time, it connects with cinema and the stories that have mattered to me in my life.”
“It’s an interesting hybrid between the cinema that I grew up watching and making and also the cinema that will blow me away in terms of scale and scope. And this story hopes to have both,” Luna shares.
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“To go out there and be interesting again and about the action, like star wars [does] better. But at the same time, [it’s] very intimate and character-driven and very personal and small at times, in a way that you didn’t know if it was going to work,” he continues. ” And then [the] A thug reward, he has a huge following. There are so many fans who appreciate the tone, the darkness and the breathing. And right now it’s different because we know it’s possible.”
He adds: “We know A thug went smoothly. That’s why we are here. So there’s room for something like this in the universe of star wars and it’s great to be part of it.”
The new Disney+ series will follow the journey of Andor, a man tasked with breaking into the Empire to hurt the government from within – all in the name of justice.
Set before the events of the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the galaxy is in turmoil as violence and discomfort spread across the planets. The Empire is at the helm, but a rumble begins among the citizens who simply won’t put up with their oppression any longer.
“We are going to visit five years before Cassian Andor goes on a mission in which we see him A thug“, says Luna about Andorthe plot.
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Luna also says that it was “always good to know that Cassian’s story back then had a beginning and an end, that I was getting into something that I could conceptually understand”, finding out the backstory of his character during filming. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
“It made perfect sense at that second,” he continues. “It’s not necessarily [a] character driven story… [but] you get clues and bits of each character, where they come from. Cassian has an accent that no one else has, so he must be from somewhere else.”
In the end, learning more about her character became an enjoyable and worthwhile process.
“[Cassian] said in the moment, ‘I’ve been fighting since I was six. I’ve been part of this fight since I was six years old. And you go like, what? What does that mean? But he does not explain, he notes. So it’s very interesting now, to explain how someone can end up sacrificing everything for a cause. How do we get there? And that, for me, was an exciting challenge.”
The first three episodes of Andor debuts September 21 on Disney+, with subsequent episodes airing each Wednesday.
For more from Diego Luna, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.