Diego Luna got the wakeup call of a lifetime in early 2015.
It was then that Luna—known for Y Tu Mamá También, Milk and Elysium—heard he would be playing the Rebel Alliance intelligence officer Cassian Andor in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
"It was 2 a.m. in the morning. I was asleep in Budapest—I was shooting a different project—and my phone started ringing. I was like, 'Oh, God. Who is this? Probably a drunk cousin that wants to tell me something.' I fell asleep again and I didn't answer," he tells E! News' Erin Lim. "Then I went like, 'Damn! No! Wait a second!' I went to hear the message and it was Gareth Edwards."
Luna promptly got in touch with the director. "I called him and he said, 'Welcome to Star Wars.' He said it that way, because he knew what he had in his hands," the 36-year-old movie star recalls. "I jumped, celebrated, shouted, and then he said, 'Don't tell anyone.' I go, 'You've got to be kidding! This is the best news but it's not real until I tell my best friends. Otherwise it's like a dream.' And it stayed like a dream for three months until the official announcement came out."
When Luna's casting was revealed later that spring, Lucasfilm didn't confirm or deny his involvement—standard protocol for the film studio, which tends to build anticipation over time.
Unlike his co-stars, Luna broke protocol by telling members of his inner circle about his role. "I didn't tell my best friends. I did tell my father, because I knew [it was safe]. If my father says to someone, 'Oh, my son is doing Star Wars,' everyone would be like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' No one would believe him. No one would get it from him," he tells E! News. "And my kids, I told them when they saw me packing and I had to explain we were going to London for the summer. But that was like a month and a half after [I was cast]. I did keep the secret for a quite a long time."
Luna has been a fan of the franchise since childhood, so making the movie was a dream come true. "The interesting part was the military training," Luna says. "I spent two weeks with ex militaries and did a lot of patrolling and camping and just listening to them and to their stories."
"All the work with the stunts, it's so cool. It's like choreography. Killing a Stormtrooper it's so nice, but you have to rehearse, right? But that feeling of running and suddenly [shooting] and the guy falls, it's so special. I've dreamed of that my whole life," he says. "Getting to a place where everything around you is Star Wars and doing it over and over and over, it was perfect."
What Luna didn't anticipate was just how physical the shoot would be. "In this one, I didn't injure anyone. I did injure myself a lot. A lot! Because you want to do it right. It's Star Wars! Come on!" the Mexican actor explains. "You want to go for it, right? One of my ribs still hurts."
To ease the pain, Luna self-medicated at home. "Tequila is very good. One or two at night, and it's very good," the actor confesses to E! News. "You just have two tequilas and you fall asleep, and when you wake up and you know you're going to go shoot Star Wars, everything works."
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters Dec. 16.