Stars Denise Gough and Kyle Soller on Their Star Wars Characters – The Hollywood Reporter
[This story contains spoilers for Andor’s first three episodes, as well as mild references to episode four.]
Throughout the Star Wars franchise, the Imperial characters have mostly been black and white, but with Andor exploring two lesser-known branches of the Empire, Denise Gough and Kyle Soller believe that their characters will add a little more gray to the mix.
Gough’s character, Dedra Meero, who will be introduced in episode four, is a supervisor for the Imperial Security Bureau, and a small detail of the Cassian Andor case falls within her purview, leading her to spearhead an investigation. However, as one of only two women on the ISB’s leadership council, she faces some roadblocks along the way. But for Gough, it’s more than just a matter of gender.
“She sees these other lazy guys getting to have power that they don’t deserve to have. I don’t think she thinks of herself as being a woman in a man’s world. I think she just thinks, ‘I am so good at what I do. I deserve better than this,’” Gough tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Soller’s Syril Karn is a Deputy Inspector for the Pre-Mor Security Inspection team, an independent affiliate of the Empire, and as a by-the-book cop, Karn is fixated on finding the man (Cassian Andor) responsible for murdering two of his peers. Despite his Chief Inspector’s order to sweep the matter under the rug, Karn’s OCD, which extends to his tailored uniform, can’t let it go.
“I totally saw him as methodical and meticulous, and the OCDness was a way to try and structure and control his environment, which felt very out of control. So I do know that detectives with OCD are actually more effective at their job, and so I thought, ‘Oh, this is a match made in heaven,’” Soller says.
In a recent spoiler conversation with THR, Gough and Soller also look ahead to a potential partnership between their characters and reveal what unites them, both on and off screen.
So I’d love to hear about your individual moments on set where you said to yourselves, “Oh my God, I’m a part of Star Wars.”
Denise Gough: So, first day, straight in, we were on the [Ferrix] set that they built. All the sets were real. So we were in a little town, and I’m in my full Imperial uniform. And then they gave me two Death Troopers, and we walked through a sea of extras. So I just started humming the Star Wars theme tune, and then all the extras started humming it. And suddenly, I was super aware that I’m in Star Wars, but then I forgot about it again until these last few days. So now I’m really overwhelmed that I’m in Star Wars.
Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in Lucasfilm’s Andor
Courtesy of Lucasfilm
Kyle Soller: I was also on this incredible set that had been built. It was a town. It was like eight acres or something. It was a 360-degree set. You could go anywhere. But it had gotten to the point in filming where I really had forgotten that I was in Star Wars because I was like, “I’m part of this sociopolitical drama that’s also a thriller, a family drama and a love story, with some space-y looking people.” So I was walking through the set, and there was a crowd that parted all of a sudden, revealing a line of Stormtroopers. So I just lost my mind and had a childhood freakout. (Laughs.) I was like, “Oh my God, a bunch of Stormtroopers,” which I hadn’t seen by that point. It was amazing.
Syril Karn has one of the most fascinating character details in that he tailors his uniform, implying that he has OCD. And studies have shown that detectives with a degree of OCD tend to be more effective at their job. So is that how you saw Karn as well?
Gough: I have to interrupt here because when I had my first fitting in Dedra’s uniform, I said to the designer, “This has to be tailored. It has to be nipped in here.” And he laughed and said, “I can’t believe it. [Kyle] had to have all of his costumes tailored.” So we knew that we were going to be perfect together because even off set, we’re OCD. We’re having a tough time in this [press junket] room right now because it’s full of wires and boxes and things. The OCD is what brings us together.
Soller: (Laughs.) Yeah, there is high-level anxiety going on beneath the surface, which was actually going on for Syril the entire time. Yeah, I totally saw him as methodical and meticulous, and the OCDness was a way to try and structure and control his environment, which felt very out of control. He comes from a difficult background, which we actually get a view into as the series develops. His specificity comes with judgment, but it’s out of a fear that things are out of his control. So I do know that detectives with OCD are actually more effective at their job, and so I thought, “Oh, this is a match made in heaven.”
(L-R): Sergeant Mosk (Alex Ferns), Chief Inspector Hyne (Rupert Vansittart) and Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) in Lucasfilm’s Andor
Courtesy of Lucasfilm
Denise, you play an ambitious Imperial Security supervisor named Dedra Meero, and she happens to be one of only two women on the ISB’s council of officers. So she faces a great deal of resistance as she tries to lead her own investigation into the Cassian Andor matter. To put it simply, why is she Team Fascism?
Gough: So when I spoke to Tony about what Dedra has come from, she didn’t come from much. She’s an outsider, and she’s looking for a way to be important and to be considered important. And just like Syril, she wants to find control and to be able to be in a position of power so that she can feel in control. And in this industry that she’s in, she looks around and sees a lot of men of privilege being able to just kind of wing it, and it’s not in Dedra’s nature to wing it. So she obviously has to work twice as hard as anyone else there, maybe because of the fact that she’s a woman, but her motivations are very similar to what Kyle said about Syril. She wants control, and control is a form of safety.
I don’t know how deep we’ll go into Dedra’s background, but when I spoke to Tony about it, it’s full of trauma and difficulty. That is something that has an effect on an adult, psychologically. If they have had a childhood like that, then they tend to try to have a very controlled existence when they’re older, so that they feel safe. She’s also power hungry, because she sees these other lazy guys getting to have power that they don’t deserve to have. I don’t think she thinks of herself as being a woman in a man’s world. I think she just thinks, “I am so good at what I do. I deserve better than this.”
Both your characters are very by the book, and they both have the same obstacle in the form of Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith). Could your two characters be useful to each other down the road?
Gough: Yeah, surely.
Gough: Blevin annoys [Dedra] so much. He’s so messy and lazy, and he slouches. He thinks that he’s got it all sorted out. I have a lot of fun around Blevin.
Soller: (Laughs.) I think Cyril and Dedra feel seen when they find each other, and they share a lot of the same morals and values that exist within the fascistic structure of the Empire. And they realize, eventually, that they can be stronger together.
Gough: But they also can’t be Rebels because Rebels are too dirty and everything. Syril and Dedra are super clean and tidy and neat. They’re perfect for the fascist regime.
Andor’s first three episodes are now streaming on Disney+. This interview was edited for length and clarity.