Riz Ahmed Talks Bodhi Rook’s Evolution In Rogue One, Harassing Gareth Edwards For Role


Rogue One is filled memorable performances, but one role, in particular, was almost filled by someone else. The horror.

Rogue One’s Riz Ahmed has won acclaim for his depiction of the defecting Imperial cargo pilot Bodhi Rook. Ahmed had generally been known for smaller, indy roles in movies such as Nightcrawler and Four Lions. But with a pivotal role in Rogue One, along with a supporting role in the latest Jason Bourne film, Ahmed seems set for mainstream success.  Like his character Rook’s path, Ahmed’s was not the easiest of our group of rebels, but Ahmed told the L.A. Times, he believes his character made a complete evolution before it was all said and done.

"On this film, my character started off as this total other dude, and by the end of the movie, from a combination of what I was doing and what they felt the story needed, he was just a totally different character with a different name, a different job, a different everything — and much more part of the ensemble."

Indeed, Rook starts as a confident pilot attempting to defect to the Rebellion, before suffering mental anguish at the hands of Saw Gerrera, and then recovering in time to help Jyn Erso and crew beam the plans for the Death Star off of Scarif. Ahmed admits beings stunned that there was even a Star Wars film in production.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in foreground, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) in background

Copyright 2016 Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved


"I was filming “The Night Of” and I got a call one day from my agent, who said, “Gareth Edwards is doing a ‘Star Wars’ movie.” I thought, “That’s not possible — I’ve just seen the trailer to the ‘Star Wars’ movie (‘The Force Awakens’).” I didn’t realize there were these stand-alone movies at all."

After recovering from his initial shock, Ahmed got in contact with the aforementioned Rogue One director Gareth Edwards regarding the part of Bodhi Rook. Ahmed admits to going a bit overboard filming his one audition scene, coming up with dozens of variations for Edwards to consider. The ironic part? Edwards had already decided to cast Ahmed for the former Imperial pilot.

"The references he gave me for the character were, like, Dustin Hoffman in “Papillon” and Dennis Hopper in “Apocalypse Now.” That kind of combination was intriguing to me. So I started putting myself on tape for this scene, but I am quite obsessive with my work so I just kept going, “Oh, I have another idea.” By the end, I was wearing weird costumes, doing accents, doing, like, 12 takes over a few days.Finally, Gareth emailed me back and just said, “You don’t need to send me any more tapes. Please don’t do that anymore.” So I just thought, “I’ve screwed it up.”"

More from Dork Side of the Force

It wasn’t until much later that Edwards contacted Ahmed to let him know he had the part, and that it was the very first audition tape that had convinced the director. We can all agree, Edwards cast the right man for the job.