Gareth Edwards Let Donnie Yen Develop His Rogue One Character Chirrut Îmwe


Asian cinematic giant Donnie Yen brings a lot to the table, and in the case of Rogue One, it was Yen’s idea to make his character, Chirrut Îmwe, blind.

For most of the Western hemisphere, Donnie Yen remains a relatively unknown actor. But for those well versed in Asian cinema, specifically its martial arts adventures, Donnie Yen is the Tom Cruise of the Pacific (seriously check out any of the IP Man movies. You’re welcome). Sure there were some minor parts in Blade II and Shanghai Knights, but those movies aren’t exactly part of Hollywood’s Mt. Rushmore.

So it is, that when Rogue One lands in American theaters December 16th, there might be quite a few audience members wanting to find out a bit more about the actor playing the blind badass, Chirrut Îmwe.

Yen recently told JetSetMagazine that despite Rogue One flying under the Star Wars banner, he was initially hesitant to accept the role of Îmwe. Yen’s primary concern? The long shooting schedule in London, thousands of miles from home.

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"Truthfully, I didn’t want to spend five months apart from my family, filming in London."

When the veteran actor mentioned the film to his three children, however, their excitement convinced Yen to take the part.

Whatever film Yen works on, he expects to be involved in more than simply acting, and often brings his input to the film.

"When you hire me, you’re not just getting an actor; you are getting a choreographer, a director."

So it was with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards when he hired Yen. The actor’s suggestion? Make his character, Chirrut Imwe, blind. Edwards was amenable to the idea and subsequently allowed Yen to develop other aspects of the character, as well.

And while a Star Wars film without Han Solo or Luke Skywalker is, of course, a risk, Yen remains optimistic that the film’s success will lead to other roles in the United States. Either way, the overly creative Yen simply wants to be inspired.

"I just take it one movie at a time. I just look for the types of films that I am passionate about and challenge me and are refreshing…I think mainly about the character."

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For a man as diverse as Yen, whose talents range from jaw-dropping martial arts moves to belting out Chopin on the piano, we think he’ll be just fine. And seriously, go watch the IP Man movies. You’ll thank us later.