We are a little over two weeks away from the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and fans are already buying merchandise for the new characters that this latest entry in the legendary franchise has to offer. It’s great to see a new generation of audiences embrace this new era of the universe created by George Lucas – especially when it comes to children from different cultural backgrounds see themselves represented onscreen.
So it’s incredibly encouraging to see Asian actors in significant roles in the upcoming Gareth Edwards-directed movie. Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe), Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus) and Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook) now have action figures featuring their likenesses, and seeing their faces in a film of this scale, let alone a Star Wars movie is important for the culture – particularly in the times we’re living in right now. If I were still a child and I saw the trailers for Rogue One, I’d be incredibly excited to see characters that look like me and my family onscreen piloting ships and shooting at stormtroopers.
Donnie Yen recently spoke with Variety about the time in which Edwards approached him for his role as Chirrut. Yen expressed that despite his worldwide popularity for his ability in martial arts, that wasn’t the main factor that got him the job:
“When I asked [director Gareth Edwards] why he wanted me for the role, he told me he’d studied my films and I had the persona he wanted, that he had the perfect role for me. The focus isn’t on my martial-arts ability but my ability as an actor. But there are still scenes to satisfy the martial-arts fans.”
Yen, much like his fellow co-stars is weary of revealing too many details about his character. But he did emphasize Chirrut’s relationship with the Force:
“I play one of the characters who is connected with the Force. He’s not a Jedi. His line is, ‘I AM the Force.’ Obviously, it’s a big deal, being the first Chinese actor asked to play a prominent role in a ‘Star Wars’ film. That means a lot.”
Yes indeed, Donnie. It really means a lot to see you in a prominent role in a Star Wars film. For a franchise that has been influenced by Asian mythology, the addition of Yen, Wen and Ahmed feel just right. May the Force be with them.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes to a galaxy near you on December 16.