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Andor's Denise Gough Highlights Dedra Meero's Intimacy Issues

"Andor," the latest "Star Wars" series on Disney+, introduced audiences to a terrifying new villain in Dedra Meero. Played by Denise Gough, Meero holds rank in the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB), the Empire's secret police, where she serves the fascistic government with the single-minded goal of rooting out its enemies by any means necessary. Her cold, calculating demeanor serves her well in a job that requires sadistic cruelty, and she appears to be the only woman to have climbed the bureaucratic ladder. Though not unable to turn on the charm when it seems likely to get results during an interrogation, she seems much more comfortable barking orders or inflicting brutal methods of torture on political prisoners.

Over the course of "Andor" Season 1, as Dedra pursues Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), she, herself is pursued by a stalker, Syril Karn (Kyle Soller). Syril is a former low-ranking corporate police officer from Cassian's home planet of Ferrix, whose fellow officers are killed when Cassian escapes the planet. Upon finding out that Dedra is investigating the case, Syril develops a strange, psychosexual fixation on her, following her to work and even back to Ferrix. When Dedra is almost killed during a mass protest against Imperial occupation in the season finale, Syril, thinking himself her knight in shining armor, saves her in a deeply uncomfortable scene.

According to Gough, that moment illuminated her character by highlighting Dedra's hang-ups with intimacy.

Gough says Dedra Meero neglects her emotions to serve the Empire

Speaking to Empire, Denise Gough explained that she sees the character of Dedra Meero as a foil to Rebel leader Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård). In a searing monologue to a scared Rebel spy, Rael declares, "I've given up all chance of inner peace. I made my mind a sunless base." Dedra, by contrast, never had the sun to begin with. She's neglected her emotions entirely. "Everything is iced out," says Gough. "Everything. Luthen burns it — there's an energy to that. But Dedra's is just as painful. She's frozen everything."

In fact, Dedra's interactions with Syril may be, according to Gough, the first time the ISB officer was ever touched, a fact the actor didn't realize until rewatching her performance after the fact. She recalls that while playing the scene in which Syril rescues Dedra, she played from a place of anger, only later realizing the layer of emotional neglect under the surface. Says Gough, "I was f****** furious. 'How dare he touch me?' But when I watched it, I thought, 'Oh my god, she's never been touched. Never. Yes, this guy can be construed as creepy and weird. But what does that do to someone who's never been with anyone? Ever?"

The answer to that question will have to wait for Season 2 of "Andor," which is currently in production.