Director Toby Haynes Discusses Directing More Episodes Than Expected & Working with Andy Serkis [The Rogue Ones Podcast]
Feb 4, 2023
On program! The Rogue Ones: A Star Wars Andor Podcast returns with hosts Mike DeAngelo and The Playlist’s Editor-In-Chief, Rodrigo Perez. As with the previous episodes, each week, our hosts will recap and review the latest “Andor” episode and welcome cast members and creatives from the show to discuss all things “Andor” and all the intrigue and machination of the “Star Wars” galaxy.
READ MORE: ‘Andor’ Review: Tony Gilroy Doubles Down On ‘Rogue One & ‘Star Wars’ For Adults In Engaging Thriller About Tyranny
In the seventh episode of The Rogue Ones, our hosts break down their thoughts on episode nine, entitled “Nobody’s Listening,” which dropped on Disney+ today. After the discussion, director Toby Haynes (“Sherlock,” “Black Mirror,” “Brexit”) joins the podcast to talk about COVID changing the production, working with Andy Serkis, and much more.
For the uninitiated, “Andor” serves as a prequel to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which itself was set just before the events of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” The Lucasfilm series follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) five years before meeting Jyn Erso and the gang in ‘Rogue One,’ as he finds himself thrust into the middle of a budding rebel cell with plans to put a stick in the Empire’s eye. It’s a first for the Star Wars universe, as it acts as a political spy thriller that really considers the age of oppression, life during wartime, and what it’s like to be on the ground as a member of the rebel alliance and as a member of the Imperial Army. Going even deeper, “Andor” really examines what it’s like for everyday people struggling under an oppressive regime. The show also stars Stellan Skarsgard, Genevieve O’Reilly, Adria Arjona, Kyle Soller, Fiona Shaw, and more.
During the interview, Toby Haynes talked about speaking with showrunner Tony Gilroy and producer Sanne Wohlenberg about directing one to three episodes, which completely changed after the pandemic lockdown in the U.K. The original plan was for Tony Gilroy to direct the first episodes of the series, but COVID made that nearly impossible.
READ MORE: Tony Gilroy Says The Final 3 Episodes Of ‘Andor’ Season 2 Take Place 5 Days Before ‘Rogue One’ Starts
“I did get a phone call out of the blue from [Sanne], and I said, ‘Look, if Tony doesn’t want to come over because of COVID, I’m still available,” Haynes said. “And she just said, ‘Shut up and listen!’ She hadn’t heard a word I said; she was so stressed. She was like, ‘Tony doesn’t want to come over because of COVID’…Fortunately, I was the only director that he’d met over here at that point. And he said, ‘How close does Toby live to the studio?’ And I was literally twenty minutes away…I was so hungry for it, so it really was a stroke of COVID luck, in a way. I did very well out of that, but it was sort of my destiny. I watched ‘Star Wars’ when I was six years old, and ever since then, I wanted to be a filmmaker. Ever since someone said ‘Star Wars’ was made by someone, I wanted to be that person. It kind of rounded a circle for me.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean everything was smooth sailing for Haynes and company, as the director insists that science fiction might be one of the more difficult genres to direct.
“It really wants to be rubbish,” Haynes said candidly. “That’s the thing about science fiction – it wants to be bad. And you have to use all of your skills, and everyone has to be working at the top of their game to make it feel convincing. To make it feel that it’s a real universe, or these people actually live and work there, or these droids actually work. You know, it takes a lot of smoke and mirrors. It was the same on ‘Black Mirror,’ it was the same on ‘Doctor Who.’ All of those heightened universes – it just takes a lot of pushing the boulder uphill. It doesn’t just happen.”
During production, Haynes also worked heavily with Andy Serkis during his last block of episodes. In those episodes (episodes 8-10), Serkis plays Kino Loy, Andor’s fellow prisoner, and shift manager on the prison planet of Narkina 5. Many “Star Wars” fans have suspected that Kino and Serkis’ other “Star Wars” role of Snoke are somehow related. As Toby Haynes directed those episodes, it was only natural to discuss the “Snoke in the room.” However, it seems that conversation was never had on set.
“I didn’t have that conversation [of Keno being Snoke],” Haynes said. “I mean, he was excited about being one of the first actors who’ve played more than two characters on the screen. Is this his third? He’s done, Snoke. Did he do something else?…Maybe it’s just two…He was very excited about being back. I think also it gave him a chance to do some acting where you’ll see his face. I mean, most of the time when you’re filming with Andy Serkis, at some point, he’ll be replaced by something else. This time he wasn’t covered in dots. It was going to be him, through and through. And I don’t think he’s done that for a while. He’d just come off the back of directing a big project himself [in ‘Venom 2’]. He was very much up for being in my hands and kind of working closely with Diego [Luna]. And he was straight into it, as well. We slammed him with some really big scenes that we had to do.”
Here’s our complete podcast breakdown of “Andor,” episode eight, plus our entire conversation with Toby Haynes.
The Rogue Ones is part of The Playlist Podcast Network—which includes The Playlist Podcast, Be Reel, Deep Focus, The Fourth Wall, The Discourse, Bingeworthy, and more—and can be heard on Apple Podcasts, AnchorFM, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and now on Spotify. Be sure to subscribe and drop us a comment or a rating, as we appreciate it. Thank you for listening.
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