Interview | Fiona Shaw on Andor's real world parallels, 'pinch me' moments and more
Fiona Shaw makes an effective appearance in the latest Star Wars Series Andor with Diego Luna. She talks to HT about the show and what it meant for her.
Fiona Shaw is no stranger to fantastical franchises. The actor is arguably most known for her role as Aunt Petunia in the beloved Harry Potter franchise. Beyond the Wizarding World, she’s also made her mark in shows like Killing Eve and True Blood. Not to mention leaving an impression by featuring in just one (delightful) scene in the triumph that is Fleabag. (Also read: Exclusive | Andor star Diego Luna on Star Wars spinoff's Easter eggs)
Her latest onscreen adventure is stepping into the Star War universe with Andor. The series, which offers some of the most mature, moody and grounded Star Wars storytelling seen on screen, tells the story of rebel spy Cassion Andor (Diego Luna) - a key figure in the resistance against the Empire. This series delves into not only his origins (Shaw plays his adopted mother Maarva), but also the origins of the Rebellion itself and the gradual awakening of a people against the Galactic Empire oppressing them.
Over Zoom, Shaw spoke to me about entering a galaxy far far away and the biting politics of Andor. currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
Stepping into the Star Wars universe with a massive project like this is a pretty distinct experience I imagine. Did you have a specific “pinch me, I can't believe this is actually happening” moment on set?
I did! And I had it more than once. One of the most exciting moments was when I first stepped onto the planet of Ferrix which is my character's home planet. It was unbelievable to see that set. You could literally walk around the streets! And I hope the cameras eventually got in long enough to film some of this. To see the guttering, and gargoyles and design and detailing of every house was stunning. This particular planet deals with the buying and selling of metal. It’s a bit like a junkyard. And any time I was on a break, I just walked around the set. It’s a triumph of design. Oh and the other pinch me moment was when I got to fly a spaceship (laughs).
You've said before in an interview that this show is political in how it talks about real world issues. Do you believe massive escapist blockbuster franchises like this can also be thought provoking in how they make us think about the world?
I want to temper my words about that, because I think I was misquoted in that interview. What I meant was anyone could construe it as political. The fact is anything about the future is about the present. And I feel like this particular series reflects the fact that we do live in a very unstable time in the world. I spent the summer in Sri Lanka, for example, which went through a terrible time this year. England this year is going through a terrible time, America and so on. We live in a time where so many of us are slightly bewildered that the rules that used to exist don't seem to exist, and we're not sure what the rules are now. That’s the instability that’s explored beautifully in this series.