Warning: This article contains spoilers about episode 4 of Andor.
Even the future leader of the Rebellion is not immune to romantic woes. We learned that on episode 4 of Andor when we were finally introduced to Mon Mothma, only to learn that the Senator's troubles did not, in fact, end in the workplace.
There's no other way to put it: Mon Mothma's husband sucks. The dude is forcing his wife to host his Empire cronies who battle her every day in the Senate for a dinner party, and then when she has the nerve to protest, he comes back at her with "Must everything be boring and sad?" Well, when the galaxy is being ruled by a Sith Lord who enslaves Wookies and shoots lightning out of his fingers — yeah, it's pretty damn sad! (Not boring, though. We'll give him that.)
Lucasfilm Ltd. Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma in 'Andor'
As if poor Mon Mothma is not going through enough just staying alive, now it turns out she has to also deal with this tool of a spouse, Perrin Fertha. Bummer for her. But it's good news for us, who are finally seeing this classic original trilogy character — who had her prequel scenes deleted in Revenge of the Sith — fleshed out beyond mere Rebellion briefings and interviews in Return of the Jedi and Rogue One.
We spoke to Genevieve O'Reilly on EW's Dagobah Dispatch podcast about our first new look at Mon Mothma, and it is a new look indeed considering the hair and clothes on display. O'Reilly discussed bringing the character back to life, Mon's relationship to Stellan Skarsgard's Luthen, and being trapped in what appears to be just a terrible, terrible marriage. (Read portions of the interview below or listen to the entire thing, along with our full Andor episode 4 breakdown, on the Dagobah Dispatch.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's go back for a minute. You get cast in Star Wars for Revenge of the Sith, and you get cast as not just anybody, but a very important character in the scope of the story and one we had already met in Return of the Jedi. And then the movie comes out, and the scenes where you actually get to speak are not even in the film. What was that like for you, because I would have been pretty devastated?
GENEVIEVE O'REILLY: Well, in fairness, George Lucas and Rick McCallum, who was the producer, they're such pros, they wrote to me and told me, so I knew way before. And they were so beautiful about that and kind to me as a very young actor. And it made complete sense to me, because of course it was all about Darth Vader becoming Darth Vader. Cinema has to have a singular focus for it to drive, you know? Cinema doesn't have a lot of time to tell the story. So I respected their decision, and when I watched it, it made total sense.
Also, what was that weird hat/helmet type thing they had you wearing in one of those deleted scenes with the senators?
I don't know, but it looked cool! Those costumes were extraordinary, and they were very much of the time in that Queen Amidala kind of shape. It was very sci-fi. I remember sitting next to Natalie Portman, and working with Jimmy Smits, and us doing these brilliant scenes, and C-3PO coming in with tea. It was amazing.
You have that line in the deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith where Mon Mothma says "We are not Separatists trying to leave the Republic. We are loyalists trying to preserve democracy in the Republic." So is that basically what she's been up to for the past 14 years when we first see her here in Andor?
I think so. I think she has been a woman who really believes in diplomacy, really believes in the power of a democratic chamber, for everyone to have a voice. I believe, with the encroachment of Empire and Palpatine, she has believed that she could still affect change from within. That she could make a difference, that chambers of parliament, for want of a better word, can breed allies, and can create effective opposition, diplomatically. I think when we meet her in Andor, she's at the end of that line.
Lucasfilm Ltd. Genevieve O'Reilly on 'Andor'
So let's get into what we saw here in episode 4 of the show, including a different hair style with the hair kind of slicked back a little bit and some definite fashion choices going on. What do you think about her new look here?
We wanted to meet a woman at a different time of her life. We get to be different people at different stages of our lives, and I certainly don't wear the same clothes I wore 20 years ago. So, we wanted that from Mon Mothma, we wanted to meet her at a new stage, a stage we hadn't seen her before. And so, you meet a woman, a very successful, political woman, a woman who's been working at the height within Empire for a long time now, she knows her stuff. And so, she is successful, she is sophisticated, she is a political mover, she is living within a world of high society. So, we wanted her look to reflect that. It's five years before she's in a bunker, you know?
Also, what Tony has done is write a character — and certainly with Cassian as well — in a polar opposite moment of their life to Rogue One, so we have somewhere to go. So, why not meet her in an art gallery, in beautiful clothes, flown in on this extraordinary car and navigating this sophisticated, but deceptive, life?
So it appears she is working with this character Luthen played by Stellan Skarsgard, and that she is back door bankrolling his missions against the Empire. How would you describe their relationship and what is going on here?
What I love about when we meet Mon Mothma in Luthen's gallery, we see this very performative exchange between these two people. And it's enjoyable, I think. You can see it. You can see the play. And it's in this stunning set, but the design also mirrors the scene, because halfway through the scene, we walk and we enter the back of the gallery. So in the front of the gallery, we have these beautifully curated pieces of art from this intergalactic world. And I think Star Wars fans will recognize, when you look at it, different parts of the Star Wars universe through those pieces.
But then we move and we go behind to his workplace, where nothing is made, it's dark. And our exchange completely shifts. Our exchange becomes about how to fund opposition. How can she do it? But she has to do it in a way where nobody sees her. We know they're revealing stuff to us, as an audience. We know we're taking off those public cloaks, if you will. But also, what are we hiding from each other? What are we not telling each other? It felt like swordplay. It was a really special scene to do, and you get to see more of stuff like that going through, the public versus the private. What do you reveal, and what do you hold?
Lucasfilm Ltd. Stellan Skarsgard and Genevieve O'Reilly on 'Andor'
Okay, we need to talk about the marriage. What can you say about Mon Mothma's relationship to her husband Perrin Fertha?
It's awkward, isn't it? Mon Mothma has been a Senator since the time she was 16. What Tony really was interested in exploring was, what is that if you've been that since you were 16? What is the orthodoxy that you live in and you have had to live within? That you were married at 16 or before, and you are representing your planet in a political sphere at 16. What are the constructs of your life that allows you that, and that, 14 years later, you are still there? What is that cage? And he's exploring that.
He literally says at one point "Must everything be boring and sad?" That appears to be a pretty wide gulf in terms of their outlook on things.
I think it exposes how much of Empire is also within the marriage, and how far she has to go to fight for what she really believes in. She has to lose a lot, because her husband is Empire. Perhaps her life is Empire. She has to escape it, right? Or she has to risk stuff. And she ends up in that rebel bunker.
Well, he clearly seems to enjoy the pomp and circumstance, and she has to put on her face and endure a lot of these high society events. How does she do at these dinners, sitting next to people that, as she says, hate her and work against her every day in the Senate?
Well, she's a politician and she's been an effective politician for years, so she's very good at her job. I think she's an extraordinarily political beast. What she's not revealing is her own passion, her own drive. Obviously, it is revealed in the scene with Luthen, but then she goes home, and you see that she very quickly has to put that armor right back up again. So, who can she trust?
Des Willie/Lucasfilm Ltd. Genevieve O'Reilly on 'Andor'
You brought up the bunker, and we see Mon Mothma leave the Senate and go full-on rebellion in Rebels, which takes place in the same time period as Andor, and we know this series will lead up to Rogue One where she is in full Rebellion mode, so I assume we will see that switch happen at some point on the show, right?
I think so. I imagine so. We started in such a completely different place that it allows for these five years to discover where this woman goes, and how she navigates the dangers and the risks that is her life, and how she ends up in a world where she introduces Cassian Andor to Jyn Erso.
What can you say about what's coming up next from Mon Mothma on this show?
What you have from episode 4 is an understanding that this is a deeply complicated woman. It's less of a face that we've seen previously, and it lives within the world of Andor, but also in the world of Rogue One, where it's gritty. It's a bit dirty, it's a bit gray, it's a bit shady. She, perhaps, might make compromising choices that we haven't seen before. We have a woman who has the seed of rebellion within her. That's what we see in Andor. We see a woman lean in to the seed of her own rebellion.
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