When “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens Dec. 16, viewers will be drawn into a world of secret plans, false identities and elaborate deceptions.

Some of which, by the way, happened even before filming began.

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According to Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, the stars of “Rogue One,” the movie’s casting process was so top-secret that they didn’t know they were strong contenders — not even when director Gareth Edwards called for a meeting. Both actors tell stories of being summoned to a Hollywood hot spot for what seemed like a casual chat. Only when Edwards opened a laptop full of logos and fell silent when waiters were around did they realize they were on the verge of starring in the first stand-alone movie in the newly relaunched “Star Wars” franchise.

Jones, who plays Jyn Erso — a renegade who joins the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans for the Death Star — says she met Edwards one morning at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles. “He talked me through the whole plot, the story, the characters. It was all done in whispers, and I realized how special this was, what we were getting into,” she says. “I didn’t realize that I was a serious contender.”

Luna, likewise, says he was afraid to ask if he was really on the director’s shortlist. It would be five months after their first meeting before Edwards officially offered Luna the role of the Rebel Capt. Cassian Andor — and still the actor was sworn to secrecy. After the call, when Luna’s friends asked why he was smiling, he quickly invented a cover story. “I came up with a woman that didn’t exist. I said, ‘Oh, I met someone. It was really nice. We went out, and she’s so kind . . .’ I had to keep the secret for another two or three months.”

Now that filming is compete, both actors swear they haven’t been coached as to what they can or cannot say. “I felt all the freedom I could ask for,” says Luna. “But I cannot tell the story, because you become protective, too. I really like the idea of audiences coming without knowing what they’re going to see.”

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Jones says something uncannily similar: “It’s kind of special that there is this mystery, and that to me is the power of cinema. What’s the point of seeing the movie if you’ve already seen it a million times in the trailer? I think we’ve all been really enjoying this, and the excitement of the fans has been really extraordinary.”