Cameron Monaghan on 'Star Wars Jedi: Survivor,' possible jump to … – Entertainment Weekly News

Of the highly anticipated video games announced during the Game Awards crowning ceremony in Los Angeles Thursday night, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to the blockbuster AAA release Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, was a standout.
Cameron Monaghan, who plays Jedi-on-the-run Cal Kestis in both games, surprised audiences from the stage with a new trailer, highlighting the first gameplay as well as an official release date of March 17.
As a perk of the job, Monaghan has already played chunks of Survivor. "They took everything they had for the first and really tweaked it and improved on it, and it feels really satisfying to play," the actor said in an interview with EW ahead of the Game Awards festivities.
Monaghan also spoke about Cal's "darker" storyline, which takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order. As the returning Cere Junda (Debra Wilson) says in the trailer footage, Cal's been busy making himself "the Empire's most wanted." We also get more glimpses of a big new adversary. Says a figure first seen floating in a vat and later fondling a coveted mystery item: "The order is gone. I was betrayed by the one I trusted most. I will not be imprisoned again."
Monaghan also addressed the crossover within the Star Wars universe and what it would mean for him to play Cal in a live-action Disney+ series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you find out you were returning for the game?

We always had aspirations to do more. So after we finished the first, I had talked to a few people in the ensuing months. We had a wrap party and talked a little bit — like, "What would we want to do if we did a second one?" It was all just dependent on what the reaction of it was and how we did. But it felt like everyone was already prepping from the start with hopes that we would be able to do more. We've also had a lot of wonderful people join the team on the second [game], from a cast perspective but also on the behind-the-scenes front. Everything has been built upon the foundation of the first, and I would say is an overall improvement.
Can you share some of the names coming to the cast?

Debora Wilson is coming back. We have a new character named Bode Akuna being played by Noshir Dalal, who is wonderful. He is a new ally to Cal, and they have a really great dynamic. They're like brothers in arms who have similar trajectories in their life and have up to this point made some different decisions along the way, but I think they have a mutual respect and understanding for each other. Noshir did an incredible job with his performance and has some pretty show-stopping scenes, so I can't wait for people to see what he does.
Were any burning questions about Cal's story addressed in the second game?

Who does his hair? Where does he get his ponchos? Yeah, there was a lot of stuff we wanted to explore with the character specifically. I wanted to see what it looked like for Cal as he aged, and what a number of years of fighting in a desperate situation would look like for the character. How does that change his worldview? How does that change the way he interacts with people? How does it affect his decision-making? These were all questions we started kicking around while we were making the first [game], and then to be able to explore a mature story with Cal — one I would say is more challenging, darker.
But something that was always important to me is, you don't want things to be grim for the sake of being grim. I think there's a difference between something dark and something joyless — still finding the adventure of the story was really important. But then also balancing that with something more challenging and interesting for the character, who will ask some really big questions I think people are going to be surprised by. Hopefully we're able to hit people with a couple of gut punches along the way.
In this new trailer, we get a shot of Cal with a stache and a beard. Did the creatives take cues from you? I remember seeing you had a couple of premieres with a mustache of your own.

That's true. Obviously, when you get older some very interesting changes happen to your body. So we sat down with the creative team. We had a little presentation. We brought the projector into the room and explained what might happen. They had a few questions, but ultimately we understood that hair grows in places you might not necessarily expect, and one of those places was Cal's chin. It was important to have Cal's internal journey reflected by his physical appearance. If you have a physical marker, it clues the audience in to what is going on internally. But also, we are able to explore multiple looks with Cal, and some of them are really cool.
This game picks up a few years after the ending of the first game. What's important for players to know about Cal right off the bat?

What's important to know contextually is not just about Cal but about the world around him, which is that the Empire has grown stronger. There are very few footholds of Resistance left, and the situation is increasingly more desperate and dark. So we're putting Cal into circumstances that are challenging to the point of even being hopeless. Trying to find that fight, and how you're supposed to fight within a seemingly hopeless situation, is an interesting question we wanted to launch into immediately. I think most of the story speaks for itself, and even if you're not familiar with the first game, you could easily jump into this one and catch up quickly.
We get this pretty significant shot in the new trailer of a figure floating in a tank of water. He reappears later on. How does this villain push Cal in new ways?

First of all, you need your antagonist to have reflections of the main character and their struggle and what they're trying to accomplish. They need to have goals that in some way either reflect or conflict with each other. With our story, we have adversaries who really do push Cal to his absolute limit — not only physically or psychologically, but ethically. We have challenges that are really difficult for Cal to contend with. And we have complexity with the villain's motivation. I'm a really big fan of what we've done with the darkness and the villain side of it.
This is also such an interesting chapter in the life cycle of Star Wars. There's more crossover than there's ever been before. We found out a lot about the Inquisitors in Fallen Order before we spent time with them on the Disney+ series. What is it like to be part of the Star Wars canon now?

It's amazing. I grew up loving Star Wars as a kid. I mean, I guess everybody did, right? You would go to the movie theaters and talk with friends: "What do you think they're gonna do next week? Where do you think they're gonna go?" There were always new, exciting facets of this universe being introduced, and now we're getting to see that explored through many forms of media. There's some really cool stuff being done on Disney+, and it's not only one of the coolest things happening in Star Wars, but one of the coolest things happening in television at the moment.

I've loved a lot of the stuff Dave [Filoni] has done in the animated space. It's funny because you can love all that stuff, but at the end of the day you have your own story to tell, and there's no way you can just say, "Oh, we're doing a Star Wars thing, so we can just do whatever the Star Wars thing is." No, you have to do what makes sense for these specific characters and situations. So while I love the fact that we have this wonderful canon in this interconnected universe, and our stories are in some way being affected or interacting with others, it's very important for all of us that our stories are self-sufficiently satisfying.
Obviously there is so much under lock and key, but if you ever got the chance to play Cal in live action, what would that mean to you?

I love this character. They're starting to explore him through other mediums — we have a novel coming up. It's been really amazing doing it within the video game space because I think games are vastly under-explored and underutilized, and are only really getting their due in this moment — people are looking at games and seeing they're incredible and moving and significant. So my priority right now is to make sure we have a satisfying arc within the games. What happens or where Star Wars wants to go from there is anybody's guess, but I can say I love Cal and it's been a joy finding him over the past few years. So we'll see.
We got some really cool shots of some of the new lightsabers. We get to play Cal having two lightsabers at once and it not just being a finishing move. We get the cross-guard saber. When you're recording performance capture, do you get to actually play with all these lightsabers?

I have definitely stolen a fair amount of lightsaber props. Maybe I shouldn't say that 'cause I might have people coming to my house to collect them. But it's really cool that we get the chance to perform with the sabers. We have an amazing stunt coordinator, Derron Ross, and we have a really fantastic stunt team. Nothing with action is done without stunt teams. You can talk to an actor and they might tell you they do all their own stunts, but at the end of the day there's always gonna be someone capable of doing it better than you can. We had such talented stuntmen and stuntwomen on set. The stuff they do with lightsabers is just so freaking cool. Obviously, you try to learn as much as you can along the way, but I have to give them their due because they're awesome.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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