For my money, Riz Ahmed is one of the finest rising talents in Hollywood today. He was great in Nightcrawler back, and he’s currently doing more great work HBO’s The Night Of. Ahmed was also one of the few standouts in Jason Bourne recently and, based on his track record, he’s probably going to become another highlight in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story later this year. After all, the 33-year-old actor is already doing a pretty good job teasing his character, Bodhi Rook, in the science fantasy blockbuster.
With a new trailer set to hit the web later this week, Ahmed and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy talked about the previously mysterious character, who is apparently “a little tense” and “a little volatile,” but the one “everybody in the group really relies on” thanks to his technical skills, according to Kennedy.
“When Kathy called my character a troublemaker, I think she was actually talking about me,” Ahmed told EW. While Ahmed doesn’t believe Bodhi Rook — whose name translates to “enlightenment” or “awakening” in the Buddhist faith — is a “natural fighter,” his personality is defined from making the best out of bad situations.
Here’s how Ahmed described the character more in-depth.
A character like Bodhi is not born into the life of a soldier. 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.
Bodhi also refused to remove his Imperial insignia on his shoulder, and that’s for one key reason: it’s a literal badge of honor, of where he’s come from and what he’s done. Once a cargo pilot, a small piece of the Imperial army — a cog in the system, more or less — he’s a man of humble beginnings, and one that isn’t afraid of his origins. Ahmed considers Bodhi “a truck driver… a long-distance truck driver” by our world standards, and that just makes him more down-to-earth in this space odyssey picture.
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? For me personally, every day, looking at that, it reminds you of what you’ve done.
But Bodhi isn’t anything like Han Solo, according to the actor. He also talked about the film’s more grounded feel, and how that compliments characters like the one he played.
The feel of this film is quite rough and ready, and so is the mission and so are the characters, and so is the coming together of the characters. So the idea of people having special ships that they spit-shine and say, “Hey, this is my ship called the XYZ,” that’s not of this world. This world is more about “Grab what you can, and let’s roll … Everyone in this Star Wars movie has got quite a complex past. They have a lot of baggage and history to it. That’s part of what makes it an interesting, nuanced movie. It’s taking characters with interesting backgrounds, whether it’s warrior monks, or ex-assassins, or long-distance truck drivers, and you’re assembling this pack of misfits.
We’ll get a better idea what this pack of misfits, including Bodhi Rook, bring to this world when Rogue One hits theaters on December 16, or when the new trailer hits Thursday.