Fiona Shaw breaks down her Andor character Maarva: “It’s a very grand gauntlet to have to pick up”
When we met Cassian Andor in the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One, he was a complete mystery. What we can be sure of is that he has been fighting the Empire since he was six years old. This is about to change. A new Star Wars series, five years before Rogue One, is all about Andor. The new show fleshes out the character and provides a deeper look at his life on the planet Felix. In the first three episodes alone, we meet his friends, foes and family, including his adoptive mother Maarva, played by Fiona Shaw.
“She’s very much like Felix’s daughter,” Shaw told Total Film about her character. “She’s actually a member of a group called the Daughters of Felix, and they’re like a community of women who are very upholding the moral standing of the planet. So she’s a very respectable person and a very senior and when we saw her on the series, she was already not very well.”
Much of what we know about Maarva comes from flashbacks. We see her feeding on a crashed spaceship on Cassian’s home planet of Kennelly. “She and her husband traveled around the planets collecting metal shards from spaceships,” Shaw explained. “You suddenly realize that all of this can be similar to Detroit in the ’70s, where people were recycling scraps of cars. So they’re recyclers, and there’s a part of people from another era who’s reusing the world. She’s a very anonymous People. I don’t think she’s a big ego, she’s a big-hearted person. And she certainly has a great moral compass, which I think has become very, very important in this particular season.”
Much of Star Wars revolves around the father-son relationship, but Andor brings a strong, multi-faceted mother-son bond to the galaxy. Shaw sees Maarva as part of a long tradition that began with two complex women in Greek mythology, both of whom she has played before.
“I think all mothers go back to the wonderful roots of Clytemnestra, a mother who made a very vicious choice to avenge the wrongs of her children, and Medea She killed her children because she loved them so much,” she said. “These great mothers, who are also terrorists, have a long history in the iconography of Western culture and probably Eastern culture as well.
“But she’s a very, very good mother, a strong mother. So I’m very happy [showrunner Tony Gilroy] Explore the mother-child relationship. Early in the episode, you see them fighting. They fight because she wants him to tell the truth, he doesn’t want to tell the truth, and half of him doesn’t want to tell the truth because he wants to protect her. These are family struggles that have to be fought every day in every family around the world. “
Many of the women in Star Wars are iconic in their own right, so was there any pressure on Shaw to join the lineup? incomplete. “Tony makes you feel like you’re chosen. He wrote it, he chose people he wanted to represent every aspect of it. So, I don’t have that pressure. But I do feel like Maarva comes from a long list of iconic women , like Clytemnestra or Medea, all great women. She’s part of people who have to make big choices, so it’s a really big challenge.
By the end of Andor’s first three episodes, it’s unclear whether we’ll see Maarva again — Shaw won’t be drawn to her character’s future, but it does hint that Maarva could still have a big role. “She was very involved because it was a real challenge [Cassian] Trying to negotiate how to get along with his mother in the situation he was in,” Shaw said. “His mother made some really big decisions, and they really impacted the series.
Andor releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney Plus – see our Andor release schedule to find out exactly when the next episode will air in your time zone. For more on the show, check out our interview with the cast, as well as Gilroy’s interview in the dramatic Episode 1 opening and the show’s Season 2.