Sofia Boutella And More Introduce The World Of Rebel Moon

A decade ago, Zack Snyder had what he believed was a great pitch for a Star Wars movie, but it fell through. Several years later, he’s managed to resurrect many of those ideas for his two-part Netflix blockbuster Rebel Moon.

There are many obvious parallels with the galaxy far, far away here – up to and including lightsabers! –  in this tale of a group of rebel warriors banding together to fight back against a tyrannical space dictatorship. But speak to any of the cast members, and you won’t hear them making comparisons to that franchise; in the words of lead Sofia Boutella, this is something far more “unusual”.

She plays Kora, a former warrior in the Imperial Army-turned-leader of the resistance after the peaceful farming planet where she’s taken refuge comes under attack from government forces. It’s the dancer-turned-actress’ first leading role, and she was attracted to it largely because she didn’t see any clean parallels between Kora and any other blockbuster protagonist.

Boutella explained to Zavvi: “Zack gave me a complex character to play; she’s someone that I couldn’t relate to, with an arc I couldn’t find in any other film, which was the fun part of the process. She’s a fighter, so finding her vulnerability and a way to voice that was a challenge.

“When we find her, we don’t know what she wants out of her life, but we see her develop this hunger for life itself. I find that inspiring.”


As a trained dancer, Boutella has long taken it upon herself to perform as many of her own stunts as possible. But she believes that, even if she hadn’t already known how to kick ass, she would have needed to learn for this.

“I enjoy doing all my stunts in every project I’m a part of, but for this one in particular, you needed to see me do it – my character is a warrior that has been trained from a very young age. I wanted to feel the exhaustion that comes with that, I didn’t want to feel that I had it easy; my stunt double was there every time to set up the shots and teach me, but I took it from there.

“I wanted to be as close to the character as possible, for every action sequence to feel visceral and for the audience to see that on my face. The only way to do that is to be a part of it.”


In addition to the two-part movie, there are already plans for several Rebel Moon spin-offs in a variety of different mediums, the first being a comic book set to launch in January. This is largely thanks to Snyder spending an entire decade developing the mythology of this universe, but nothing is set in stone; the cast were equally responsible in helping develop the lore.

Boutella explained: “What’s interesting about Zach is that, even though this is his baby, he’s not at all closed off when it comes to suggestions. He knows every detail of this story, and has developed a backstory for every single element of it – but if you have ideas, he’ll always listen to them, and he’ll only say no if it clashes with some of the lore he’s been working on for a long time!”

Her co-star Michael Huisman, who plays farmer-turned-rebel Gunnar, was overjoyed to tick a space epic off his acting bucket list, especially a project which “really feels like it belongs to the director.”


“There was so much confidence from him when it came to knowing the backstories of every last character”, he explained to Zavvi. “But I was still surprised by the extent to which he had mapped out everything, right down to the smallest details.

“It was clear he’d be thinking about this and making sketches of shots and characters for decades, and it showed on set. He knew exactly what he wanted.”

Returning to the Snyder-Verse to play warrior Darrian Bloodaxe, Ray Fisher has long been in awe of how the director fleshes out his fantastical worlds, telling Zavvi that working with him is a “reminder of why you love doing the thing you do.”


He added: “I trust him implicitly, and I know he’ll never call me up for anything silly, but for Zack Snyder, I don’t care – he can call me up and ask me to do on a walk on role as a zombie for an Army of the Dead movie, and I will. He’s just one of those filmmakers.

“What sets him apart from other directors is that he listens to his actors and encourages them to share their ideas for the betterment of the project. Nothing is set in stone, which is refreshing; he’s different to other folks who don’t listen to anybody because of their egos.

“If one of your ideas doesn’t work, then he has a long reason for why. There isn’t a single question about your character’s background that he can’t answer!”


Working with Snyder was a huge motivation for why many of the cast members signed up, but for others, the attraction came via the story’s darkness, and how they believed it had an important message for modern audiences. Such was the case for Djimon Hounsou, who appears as the former gladiator General Titus.

“Within this story, I can feel the essence of the same geopolitical tentacles that are holding Africa back”, he told Zavvi. “This world is completely foreign to us, but if you look closer, the message about needing to band together and find ways to preserve our planet is quite profound.

“I think children will absolutely benefit from hearing a story this dark. The story Zack has written has a strong blockbuster appeal, and we all surrendered to his vision, but I think we can see so much of our story within it.”


His co-star Staz Nair, who plays the animal whisperer Tarak, elaborated on this: “We live in a world where it’s so hard to be sheltered now, and I think it’s far better to make a movie rooted in the reality of how flawed and gritty life can be to educate children, rather than keep them naïve to the world we live in. There’s a lot of truth in this story, and no matter whether or not it’s inspired by real world events, it certainly mimics them.”

However, for Nair, being aware of this wasn’t the key to grounding the story in a “normality” that made his fantastical role far more approachable.

“I’ve never had to tame a 60-foot animal, but you have to draw from your own experiences, and find a way to make this normal! Growing up, I trained and fostered a lot of abused pitbulls, which all started off biting people, but after six months of spending time with them, they’d no longer have those problems; they found forever homes with children and other dogs, and it was all through the patience and sensitivity it takes to create a bond with them.


“That was where I found the segue into creating a relationship between Tarak and the animal kingdom, and by my final audition, it became clear that his connections were what he saw as the start of his ride back to redemption, and back to his home planet.”

In short, don’t approach Rebel Moon as Star Wars-meets-Seven Samurai with a truck load of grit – take the cast’s word for it, and view it as a warped mirror to the world right now.

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child Of Fire is streaming on Netflix from Friday, 22nd December. It is released in select cinemas from Friday, 15th December.

Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.