Riz Ahmed, who plays Bodhi Rook in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, talked with Entertainment Weekly about his character’s nature and why he still wears the Imperial insignia.
Bodhi Rook has already been described as intense and volatile by the Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. In Entertainment Weekly’s latest interview with Riz Ahmed, who plays Bodhi in the standalone film, the actor explains the reasons behind that volatility and also why Bodhi, a cargo pilot for the Empire who defects to the Rebel Alliance, continues to wear the Imperial insignia on his shoulder.
by Jonathan Olley, via Entertainment Weekly
Rogue One is all about ordinary people who are put into extraordinary situations. There are no Jedi in this film, no great war heroes; rather, the main characters are individuals who are used to fighting in the trenches, to fighting the Empire every day sometimes at the edge of their resources without getting medals for it.
But that doesn’t mean all of the characters slipped easily into the roles they have taken on in the war between the Empire and the Alliance.
"“A character like Bodhi is not born into the life of a soldier,” Ahmed says. “He’s a pilot working for the Empire, doing his job, getting on with it. But when you put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, it can freak them out. It can inspire deep passions. So I’m gonna defend Bodhi.”"
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I love Riz’s line, “But when you put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, it can freak them out,” because it sounds so much like real life. As an audience member consuming entertainment mediums like movies, it’s easy to look at the characters in the story and think, “I could do that.” But in reality, if I was put into a situation like Bodhi’s where all of a sudden my life was in mortal danger perhaps every second I was on the job, I don’t know how I would react. I probably would freak out, just like Bodhi.
Bodhi has developed a particular method of dealing with all the stress in his life, and that is by becoming “ornery.” Combine being a little mean with being secretly freaked out, and a “troublemaker,” as Kathleen Kennedy described him to Ahmed, to boot, and you create a man who is like a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the right stimulus to make him blow his top.
via Star Wars Movies on Facebook
But there is one thing which may help keep him centered, and that is his past. Bodhi was conscripted as a cargo pilot for the Empire, and for some time he does his job without complaint, because for him it’s just work (Ahmed compared his occupation to that of a long-distance truck driver in the real world). As he comes to see the true face of the Empire, however, he realizes he can’t justify working for them, no matter how much he detaches himself personally from the job. So he defects to the Rebel Alliance, but he still keeps the Imperial insignia on his sleeve’s shoulder. The insignia stays, Ahmed says, as a reminder.
"“I think it’s to remind you of where you’re coming from, remind you where your debts are. Do you know what I mean?” Ahmed says. “For me personally, every day, looking at that, it reminds you of what you’ve done.”"
The aesthetic of Rogue One, Ahmed says, is “quite rough and ready.” Everything – the characters, the mission to steal the Death Star plans – is slapdash, thrown together. Ahmed says, “This world is more about ‘Grab what you can, and let’s roll.'” The latter seems to describe Bodhi’s entire character journey: take what you have been given, and make the best of it.
To read the full interview, follow the link to Entertainment Weekly. Keep checking Dork Side throughout the week as we build up to the premiere of the new Rogue One trailer Thursday on NBC.