One thing that always confused me about Andor was why Fiona Shaw—a Shakespearean actor extraordinaire and multiple award-winning star of stage, screen, and TV—would have accepted the small, muted role of Maarva Andor, Cassian’s adoptive mother. That is, until I saw the series finale, where Shaw’s massive talents were put to perfect use—well, almost perfect, if Disney’s censors hadn’t gotten in the way.
According to Denise Gough, who plays dedicated Imperial Security bureaucrat Dedra Meero in the TV series, Maarva’s funeral scene was incredibly intense for all the actors involved, including rebels and Imperials alike—and Shaw very much did not say “Fight the Empire!” at the end of her powerful, rallying funeral speech (broadcast post-humously via hologram to the people of Ferrix courtesy of the droid B2-EMO). As Gough related in her interview with—where else?—Empire:
“My first day was Ferrix,” she said, recalling her arrival on the eight-acre town built at Pinewood Studios—a living, breathing, industrial planet. “I was given my two Death Troopers—one of whom had to be trained to run like a Death Trooper and not like a musical theatre star—and I couldn’t help myself, I just started doing the [hums the Imperial March]. Then, everyone started doing it.” From the very start, a rebellious spirit was in the air. “Fiona’s voice was over all of us,” Gough says, recalling the finale’s fire-and-fury funeral monologue from Ferrix’s formidable matriarch. “Except, at the end, she didn’t say, ‘Fight the Empire!’ She said, ‘Fuck the Empire!’ Which we were all really excited about. But we weren’t allowed to keep it, obviously.”
Obviously. Although all Star Wars movies since Revenge of the Sith have been PG-13, the closest any live-action entry has come to profanity is when Finn calls the slider DJ a bastard in The Last Jedi. But Andor is easily the most “adult” Star Wars tale out there, unflinchingly looking at the horrors wrought by the Empire during its prime, and the grim reality that not all rebels are heroes. Maarva’s “Fuck the Empire!” doesn’t just feel earned by Andor, it truly feels right. The people of Ferrix would be angry. Everyone subjugated would be angry. And “fight the empire” is implicit in everything else Maarva says in Shaw’s impeccably delivered speech. But to debase it, to hate it, to condemn it like that, truly feels like what Maarva would say—and what all those people listening to her would feel.
But also, really, fuck the Empire and all of its space-fascists. Meanwhile, go read Gough’s entire interview here—it’s well worth it.
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