Riz Ahmed plays pilot Bodhi Rook in the new Rogue One a Stars Story. Today we are sharing our Riz Ahmed interview for Rogue One and I think you are going to love all the details about the movie!
We interviewed Riz Ahmed during the #RogueOneEvent in San Francisco. His character Pilot Bodhi Rook was enlisted to serve as a pilot for the Empire but leaves to join the Rebellion.
You may notice he still wears his Imperial Badge even as part of the Rebellion.
Could you tell us a bit about your character?
So my character is called Bodi Rooke. And he actually works in the Empire. He’s a cargo pilot. And he’s from this planet called Jeda, which is occupied by the Empire. And so, you know, he’s just trying to earn a living. The main employer in town. The only show in town, really, is working for the Empire. So he’s a cargo pilot. But the name Bodi means awakening. So he goes through a kind of awakening and realizes that that’s not the way. You know, He’s got to try and stand up for what he believes in to make a difference. So he takes a big risk and he defects from the Empire to try and help the rebels.
Can you tell us a little bit about the relationship with all the actors and the cast. How was that get together to work…
Yeah. We kind of ended up spending a lot of time together because it’s quite an ensemble film and story. So it’s really about this kind of gang, It’s about myself and K2SO, Cassian, Jyn,and Cherit. We’re like this little troop. We spent a lot of time together closed off in sweaty space ships. We got to kind of keep each other alive, and awake, and we just would crack a lot of jokes. We definitely had to make each other laugh, and keep each other’s energy up. So it meant we bonded, for sure. Definitely.
What was the most difficult part about being a part of Star Wars? It’s such a huge… It’s such a huge thing. What was the most difficult part for you?
It’s interesting. The difficult thing wasn’t so much of, like, oh my god, I’m in Star Wars, because that was… In a way, that was a joyous thing. That was something that was exciting and makes you want to, you know, work really hard. If you love a job that’s not a bad thing. The thing that was difficult is when I’m playing a character, I like to try and interview people who are close to that character…
So when I was doing The Night Of I went to visit Riker’s Island prison, or I interviewed lots of people that had been to prison, and spent time in high schools in the Bronx, and interviewed people for hours. But you can’t interview anyone who’s an Imperial cargo pilot. None of them wanted to speak to me. So I didn’t know what to do. That’s confusing! You don’t really know where the reference points are, where starting points are. And in the end, I realized that the reference point is the world that is around you. When you turn up on set and they’ve built these mountains and space ships, and there are alien creatures walking past you. The preparation doesn’t have to be in your head. It’s right there in front of you. And you just have to soak it up. So that was like a… quite a big exercise in letting go when I can be a bit of a preparation freak.
So what character traits, if any, do you share with, um, your character?
I’d like to think that he’s quite a relatable character for a lot of people. He’s just an everyman, and, you know, average Joe. He finds himself in a crazy situation. He’s not like Cassian, who’s a rebel spy. He’s not like… Baze who’s kind of a hardened assassin, or Jyn,who’s this kkind of criminal rebel. He’s just like a truck driver, basically. You know? And he finds himself in the middle of this crazy intergalactic heist movie. He freaks out a little bit! So I think I’d freak out in that kind of situation. I think most of us would. So hopefully that’s kind of relatable.
What physical training did you have to have for this movie?
Yeah, I mean, I was so muscly, I had to lose weight for… So that Diego didn’t look too bad. That was the main issue for me. No, I mean, I think the issue really is that my character isn’t a soldier. So he’s not, like, super physically fit. He needs to look like when he’s running through a war zone with a 50 kilo backpack on him, he’s out of breath, and it’s difficult. My preparation was to get really out of shape. And just kick back.
Any words to describe your character?
Full of regret.
Yeah. That was deep! I think it’s true for a lot of the people in this film. A lot of the people in this film have got quite a dark history. Or have got a past that they’re not proud of. And they’re trying to make things right. And that’s what drives ’em to take big risks. And to link up with other people who you’ve got nothing in common with, really, to try and, you know, fight a cause that’s bigger than any one of them. It’s about redemption. People trying to make things right for themselves, and for people around them.
Given the fact that your character was an Imperial pilot, we saw in the trailer that you essentially name the team… Rogue One. So without telling us too much about that moment and stuff. What would you is the impact on your character that he was the one that named the team?
Well, I can tell you about filming the scene. It was the last day of shooting, in the reshoots. So the very, very, very last day of shooting. And… Just kind of last minute That wasn’t one of the lines that was……scheduled for the day or anything.
And it just last minute, I think John Swords, one of the producers said… can you do a take when you say this? And so it was just a very last minute thing they threw in.
It just happened… it’s really interesting, a lot of the film kinda took shape like that. It evolved. My character just started out as a totally different character with a different name. With a different job. With a different relationship to the other characters. Comes into the story a different time, and by the end, It was just a totally different guy.
And I think that’s kind of cool, you know? When you do these big movies, there’s a lot of people think that it’s maybe quite stiff and everything has to be planned out beforehand. Actually, it is kind of the opposite. Least with these guys. Is they’re willing to move around as much as they have to in order to make things work.
Check out this extended look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY follows a group of unlikely heroes in a time of conflict who band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th in 3D, Real D 3D and IMAX 3D!
Follow STAR WARS on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/starwars
Visit the official ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY website: http://www.starwars.com/films/rogue-one
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!
I was a guest of Disney for the #RogueOneEvent. All opinions expressed are my own.