Every “Star Wars” movie has produced breakout characters: Darth Vader, C-3PO, BB-8, Boba Fett and for better or worse, Jar Jar Binks. There was something about each that made them very popular in a “Star Wars” universe filled with interesting characters.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will be no different. There are at least three characters who will join the ranks of the most loved (or hated) in the “Star Wars” universe. Here’s a look at them.
Why he will be a break out: The blind martial arts expert who embraces the Force is the most spiritual, wise and entertaining since Yoda.
Martial arts master Donnie Yen was drawn to the character of Chirrut Imwe because he’s so capable despite being blind. The actor, who starred in “Ip Man” movies, sees this hurdle for Chirrut as being similar to what all of the “Rogue One” characters have to overcome.
“Every single character is disabled in some way,” Yen says. “Some of them emotionally. Some of them have defects or problems. I have a physical handicap. That is a reflection of the people today. It is who we are. We are humans and we are flawed.”
The other thing Yen likes is that his character is the spiritual center of the team. He’s a man who believes in the Force, teaches the Force and looks to inspire others about the Force.
He’s got the spiritual responsibilities, but he doesn’t take the world completely seriously. Yen loved how he can make a joke.
“He’s a great character and I feel like there is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders,” Yen says.
Yen, a renowned action film star, gets to show off his martial arts talents, too. In one scene he takes on a large group of Stormtroopers. Although the vision of the actors in the suits was limited, there were no accidents during the fight scenes.
Yen smiles and says that he’s been doing martial arts and making movies long enough to know how to fight – even those in Stormtrooper gear – safely: “Plus, they had the safety of the suits.”
Why he will break out: There has not been a robot in the series with as much personality as this character since C-3PO.
Bringing the character to life fell to Alan Tudyk, an actor who has made a career out of being part of major franchises. Since playing Wash on “Serenity,” he’s done voice work on the “Ice Age” series, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” and as the wacky HeiHei in “Moana.” He’s also been in “Dollhouse,” “V” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.”
His face is never seen because K-2S0 is computer generated. But Tudyk wore a special suit and walked on stilts so that he could be in every scene. The process was a little uncomfortable at the start, but it helped him turn in a better performance than just recording in a booth.
“I had the great fortune of working with (director) Gareth (Edwards) who let me improv here and there,” Tudyk says. “I’m very happy with K-2 in that it captures my performance because it came from me.”
Tudyk’s performance, which was used as the basis for the on-screen robot, was so special and unique that when Edwards tried to use some computer trickery to change a scene, he found it never came across like the way Tudyk performed it. They brought the actor back in to film the needed footage.
The interaction helped him create K-2S0’s snarky attitude. He’s described as a robot whose circuits have been fried and that’s why he says things without a filter.
Tudyk describes the role as both childlike and childish: “It’s a great character to get play that can say anything he wants like a child.”
There was some manipulation after the filming of his voice, but Tudyk didn’t have to change the way he spoke to deliver the lines. It did take him a little while to get comfortable walking (and running) on stilts while he towered over all of the other actors.
Director Orson Krennic
Why he will be a break out: Every great story needs a great villain. Krennic handle all of the military elements and is the man behind the Death Star. He’s also a brutal foreman.
Ben Mendelsohn has played bad guys and heavies over the years with a film resume that includes “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Animal Kingdom,” “A Place Beyond the Pines” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
“You play him as a guy that has something very, very important to do and there are people being really obstinate,” Mendelsohn says. “You might want to think of this guy as a headmaster who is having to deal with some very difficult students. Some can be reformed and others can’t. Then what do you do? We bring the punishment. And then we keep the punishment going.”
Mendelsohn played the character in such a way that he expects Krennic will not be liked. But the audience should pick up on how part of the character’s motivation is just trying to keep order and get a massive construction job done. He also thinks “Star Wars” fans embrace the villains because they’re presented in a three-dimensional way to show they are not pure evil.
A mention that Krennic is the guy who overlooks the tiny opening in the Death Star that is used by Luke to destroy it, Mendelsohn laughs and says you’ll learn more about his character and the weapon in the film.
If Mendelsohn needed any inspiration playing the character he had one of the most iconic villains in film history to look since Darth Vader makes an appearance.
One day during filming, Mendelsohn told the director he needed to take a break and speak to him in the corner. The director thought there was a problem, but Mendelsohn, a fan of “Star Wars” since he was 7, just wanted to geek out about being in a scene with Darth Vader.