The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: Not Just Another Ordinary Guy - An Exclusive Interview with Riz Ahmed! #rogueoneevent

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Not Just Another Ordinary Guy - An Exclusive Interview with Riz Ahmed! #rogueoneevent

Disclosure: I attended the #Rogueoneevent and my expenses: flight, accommodations, transportation and some meals were be covered by Disney. All opinions, however, are always 100% mine.




Speaking with Riz Ahmed was super fun. He is very charming and funny. I had recently seen in in the HBO series, The Night Of, and was very impressed. He is a great actor. One thing I have noticed about Rogue One is that have an A-list cast! I am not sure you could ask for better actors.

In this interview Riz opened up about his character, being part of the Star Wars empire. And just a fun fact: he graduated from Oxford! Impressive!!

On Monday, Riz was nominated for best performance by an actor in a limited series or television for his work on The Night Of. Yesterday, he was nominated for a SAG award as well!! These nominations are totally well deserved. If you have not seen The Night Of, watch it. But go see Rouge One first!



About his character, Bodhi Rook.


[Bodhi] actually works in the Empire. He's a cargo pilot. And he's from this planet called Jeda, which is occupied by the Empire. He's just trying to earn a living. The [Empire] is the main employer in town. The only show in town, really, is working for the Empire. The name Bodi means awakening. So he goes through a kind of awakening, and realizes that that's not the way. 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.

I'd like to think that [Bodhi] quite a relatable character for a lot of people. He's just an everyman, an 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 is a hardened assassin, or Jyn who's this criminal rebel. He’s a truck driver. 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.

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 them to take big risks. And to link up with other people who you've got nothing in common with and 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.



On the camaraderie of the actors on Rogue One. 

We kind ended up spending a lot of time together because it's quite an ensemble film and story. It's really about this kind of gang. 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 cracked a lot of jokes. We definitely had to make each other laugh, and keep each other's energy up. So it meant we bonded.

How he got the role of Bodhi Rook.

It's [was] a lot of groveling. A lot of begging. The way I got this role is because Gareth comes from a British independent filmmaking. Just like I do. I remember the British Independent Film Awards one year. This film won. Best film, or something. Monster. And I was who's that guy. . . I want to meet that guy one day.

We were kind of on that same circuit of really low budget British films. He'd seen my work. So he called me up asked me to audition. But he made the mistake of giving me his email address.

I literally emailed him one version of the scene. And then a few hours later, I had another idea, and I sent him another version. And then I did that again. The next morning I didn't have a reply, so I thought I should maybe send him some more! And [after] four days I sent him 12 takes. Then he finally [emailed] me back and said 'Hey Riz just wanted to say please don't email me anymore. I've got your auditions. Thank you.' I was, oh man, I screwed it up! Then he then called me a month later when I assumed I've screwed it up, to say yeah come and do this. But I was just glad it wasn't his lawyers calling me to take out a restraining order. I guess I can be kind of obsessive with, with my work. And, luckily this time it didn't cost me a job.



Being in Star Wars and preparing for his role.

You know, it's interesting. The difficult thing wasn't so much of, oh my god, I'm in Star Wars, because that was a joyous thing. That was something that was exciting and makes you 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 [HBO mini series], I went to visit Riker's Island prison, or I interviewed lots of people that 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. You don't really know what 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's 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 quite a big exercise in letting go when I can be a bit of a preparation freak.



Independent Movies vs. Big Budget Movies!

It's a lot of different, in terms of scale. I remember turning up on the first day of shooting, and cranes were carrying palm trees, and inserting them into the ground. We were in a field in Buckinghamshire, England. Two hundred stormtroopers stood around taking a break with their helmets off, just talking to each other. And everything about that is surreal.

It's the stuff you play acted as a kid. There's loads of things that [are] different. It's remarkable how much is the same. In terms of just being surrounded by a bunch of people who really care about their work, and they're just working really hard. I've heard a lot of stories that on these bigger blockbuster movies, people are there just for the money. They don't care. Maybe that is true for some of these films, but for this movie, almost all the crew have grown up watching Star Wars.

So this is their childhood dream to be doing this. If you pick up any random prop on set, you'll see they've got alien writing on it. And, touch screen things and buttons and dials. This isn't even going to be on camera! And you just realize, people just love their job. And they loved being a part of this world and helping create this world. That sense of going above and beyond. That was almost felt like being on an indy film.


On the underlying theme of the movie.

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 them to take big risks. And to link up with other people who you've got nothing in common with and 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.

I think I want them to understand that even normal people can... make big contributions. You might think that someone else is going to stand up for what you believe in. But actually, at some point, it's on you to stand up for what you believe in. And try and make a contribution for what you think is right.


The common theme in some of these interviews is how these ordinary characters suddenly become extraordinary. I think all the cast mentioned it but Riz really brought it home. I think that's probably the message in Rogue One. Any one person can make a difference and if people work together they can start a rebellion!



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ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!


Interview photos by Louise Manning Bishop - Momstart.com

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a nice interview. He looks and sounds very personable and more than willing to talk to you all. It is always interesting seeing who is behind the characters,
    ellen beck

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