While at Skywalker Ranch screening 28 minutes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story footage, there was a scene featuring Donnie Yen doing his thing as “Chirrut” and oh my goodness, it was awesome. Especially because his character is blind in the movie. I am super excited about seeing him in action once the film hits theaters on 12/16. Our visit to LucasFilm Headquarters involved chatting with Donnie Yen about his role and experiences. Here’s what he had to say…
About his character
“Chirrut, he’s blind but he’s spiritual. He’s the spiritual center of the team. He’s the Force believer. He preaches this he’s got a little bit of a sense of humor. Yeah, and he beats up all the Storm Troopers.”
On suggesting his character be blind
“I don’t want to take any credit…it’s the collaboration of both. That’s the nature of being an artist. You express your takes on your character. So in the beginning when I was discussing my character with Gareth and I just felt it would be so much cooler to make him less of a cliché character, like, warrior monk, you know….How about give him a little bit of vulnerability, you know, like disabledness. How about being blind? And a little bit sense of humor? That was always been my persistence of keeping him grounded, having that sense of humor so the audience can relate to him a lot more. So, I suggested it and he’s cool with it and Disney loved it and here we are.”
Fun Fact: He’s done 70 movies
On playing a blind character
“…I never played a blind person before. That was another reason why I wanted to do something completely different, challenging…But it was really challenging and I underestimated the difficulty of playing a blind character because it was hard…wasn’t even about seeing clearly. It was more that as an actor I couldn’t look at my fellow actors in their eyes and I couldn’t get to all reactions. When I’m talking I have to look at a point. And that was very, very frustrating because I didn’t wanna look without the complexity of each line and the emotion.”
Fun fact: He had to take the contact lenses off every three hours and let his eyes rest & because it irritated his eyes, he needed eye drops every ten minutes.
“…And you can’t really see. So I was having difficulty measuring the distance…so I was trying to fine-tuneg my acting every single day…”
Fun Fact: He plays the Piano
On being a part of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
“…I know it sounds crazy, but in the very beginning I was hesitant of coming on board. I know “Star War,” I mean, I didn’t wanted to leave my family, my kids and be in London for five months. I just got off from another movie and I live in Hong Kong. And I said, “I don’t know.” Then I, went to my kids, Jasmine and James. They were at the time maybe 11 and 7, 12 and 8. I said, “Do you want…Baba to be in Star War?” Without a doubt they said, “Star War!” …and then all the family members and friends and all the fan voices came out of nowhere and say, “Oh!” They found out about it and said, “You gotta be in Star War! You gotta be in Star War!” I realized I’m making history here, you know? So I’m so glad.”
What’s it like visiting LucasFilm Headquarters? Read about my experience here.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Adventures arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th!