When we first met Cal Kestis in 2019 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, he was just a young Padawan. A ginger child draped in an unflattering poncho, Cal would become a full Jedi by the end of the game. It was a classic Star Wars arc in video game form, but left players wanting more. It’s great that we’ve been able to see this growth, but who could resist the idea of a sequel where his newly awakened powers are fully unleashed?
Cameron Monaghan, who is reprising his role as Cal in the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, had the same itch. The Gotham and Shameless the star was already thinking about where Cal could go next before Fallen order was equalized. Monaghan’s ambitions weren’t so much focused on what kinds of cool lightsaber tricks Cal could pick up between games, but rather on how to bring more complexity to one of Star Wars’ newest Jedi.
“In the first game, he had a naivety and wide-eyed nature that I love about Cal,” Monaghan told Digital Trends. “But I think situationally, if you’re in such a desperate place for so many years and you’re fighting and you’re a soldier and a tool of resistance, at some point it’s going to start to change the way you live. see the world around you.”
I sat with Cameron Monaghan before Star Wars Jedi: Survivor big reveal at this year’s The Game Awards. The actor explained how Cal has changed over the five-year jump between games and shared some new details about the sequel’s new companion character, Bode Akuna. Monaghan explained the balance that comes with trying to stay focused on a character’s personal journey when working in a much larger and expanded universe – and he praised Andor too.
Before a sequel was greenlit, when you were waiting to see if Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would get one, what did you want to do with Cal Kestis if you got a second run with him?
When we were making the first game, we felt like we might want to do more if it was successful. I’ll never forget when we had the wrap party for the first game and Stig Asmussen, the head of Respawn, said to me, “What do you want to do?” I had this crazy moment where I was like, “Wow, I really wish I was better prepared for this!”
But I was able to give a general answer: I wanted to see Cal several years after the first game and see him mature and have a different vision. A more complex, darker, more contested character. In the first game, he had a naivety and wide-eyed nature that I love about Cal. But I think situationally, if you’re in such a desperate place for so many years and you’re fighting and you’re a soldier and a tool of resistance, at some point it’s going to start to change the way you see the world around you. I wanted to explore what it was like for Cal.
He’s been through some stuff, and I think in the last two years we’ve all been through some stuff, man!
The big question I really wanted to ask was, what does it mean to be on the light side of the force? Especially what happens when you have situations that you can’t necessarily win and you’re faced with a challenge where there isn’t necessarily a right answer. What does it mean to be a good person? These were the main lines we said that night, and then our incredible writing team sat down on them. They also had similar feelings about what they wanted to do, so they prepared that for the following year and we started filming from there.
After seeing the trailer, it looks like there are a lot more characters this time around. How have some of these relationships brought out new sides to Cal?
We see a number of allies – some familiar, some new. Specifically, we have a character named Bode Akuna that we introduce early in the game who becomes an interesting ally. In many ways, this is the first time we’ve seen a sibling for Cal. [He’s] a mate who has been on a similar journey to him and made different decisions along the way, but I think they both understand and respect each other for that. And the actor who plays him, Noshir Dalal, is a very talented performer who brings this wonderful dynamic and energy. That’s one of my favorite things about this new game, the dynamic between Cal and Bode.
There are a bunch of great new characters, as well as situations and environments that inform and change the overall mood.
The first game was sort of in a vacuum, but now Cal is part of the Star Wars canon. It is mentioned in novels and it feels like it is part of the world. Did it change your preparation for the character?
No. The fact that Cal exists in other media was always told to me early on as a possibility. I think it’s great to be able to explore it in a book or a comic, but ultimately human beings don’t think of themselves as a situation outside of what’s now. At any given time, from one to the next, we’re usually trying to choose our next move and use the things we’ve experienced before to inform what that decision is going to be.
I think that’s really important when you’re playing any character – whether you’re in a media universe or not – you can’t be like, ‘What’s a Star Wars character going to do? ” You have to say, “What’s Cal going to do?” What’s his story so far, and what are we trying to do with it? So that was the most important thing. Just try to be present and create a performance that feels authentic and immediate from moment to moment.
There are so many major Star Wars media outlets right now, like Andor. What makes the Star Wars Jedi series so special in this landscape?
i’m a big fan of Andor and what they do. They obviously show this side which is at ground level, rooted, this immediate perspective. I think in any story, the question is always: what is the perspective? We see this story pretty immediately through Cal’s eyes and with his stories. I’ve always wanted there to be this sense of adventure and this incredible large-scale construction, and to make sure that we kept the fun and the excitement going, but that it didn’t overshadow what, for me , is the emotional center: the relationship he has with his adopted child. kinda family.
Something specific that this story brings is an emotionally complicated center where we explore difficult questions – questions that this character has to face and what it will show him. He’s going to make some decisions that I can’t wait for people to talk about. I really want to see what people’s point of view will be.
There’s a whole new look for Cal in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. How does this reflect the change we’re going to see in character here?
Cal is older, just like me! And as we age, we change and change. He’s been through some stuff, and I think in the last two years we’ve all been through some stuff, man! I think we wanted to visually mature the character and reflect what’s going on internally with him. When we find him at the beginning of our story, he hasn’t had a chance to find a razor for a while. You can tell he’s desperate because he has stubble, which I apparently have now too.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be released on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on March 17, 2023.
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