Part of the key to Star Wars‘ longevity can be attributed to an authentic world with a “lived in” feel and characters who simultaneously feel familiar and larger-than-life. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters later this month. It will be the second film in the franchise that Disney has produced since they acquired it. Rogue One may also have the most to prove since it will be the first spin-off iteration that doesn’t focus squarely on the Skywalker legacy.
Developing a tentpole film is never easy, but Star Wars brings a weight of expectation that requires each new element to be heavily scrutinized. Every character, world, and story beat will be carefully judged by fans – not only over whether it feels appropriate to what has come before but also whether it brings something new to the table. One of the key criticism of The Force Awakens was that it relied too heavily on previously covered story beats and tropes, a flaw that fans are hoping Rogue One will not repeat.
We interviewed Rogue One director Gareth Edwards about this trying process and asked which character changed the most between the film’s early pitches and their realization in the final product. Edwards’ answer revealed some interesting thoughts on how the focus of this of Star Wars will be different from its predecessors.
“If I look at the poster and go, ‘Which one is the most different than how we started?’ Probably Bodhi, Riz [Ahmed]’s character. We just knew we wanted a character that was in a war that wasn’t supposed to be there. What happens, you like to go to Star Wars and pretend you’re Han Solo or Luke Skywalker or Cassian or Jyn and the reality is… you’re not really. You’re more like Bodhi. So I wanted to put someone in there that reflected that. He started off like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now-type character and it just evolved because Riz is so fantastic. He just brought loads of ideas and things to the table and somebody was like, ‘OK, we should be reacting to this because this is really strong’ and it changed quite a bit for him, I think.”
For those not familiar with the Apocalypse Now reference – Dennis Hopper plays an American photojournalist who has found himself in war-torn Vietnam and under the spell of the cult-like rogue military leader, Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando). Based on this, it sounds like Bodhi was originally envisioned as a layman who became a fervent “true believer” in the Rebel cause.
We know that Bodhi is a former Imperial pilot who teams up with the Rebels, though his previous job wasn’t as a glamorous fighter. Actor Riz Ahmed previous explained that Bodhi was “not born into the life of a soldier” and that his piloting job is equivalent to that of a blue collar “long-distance truck driver.” While producer Kathleen Kennedy described Bodhi as “a little tense, a little volatile” and “a troublemaker,” it sounds like his place in the group is that of an everyman who has found himself in extreme circumstances.
There’s definitely something interesting about including a character in the party who doesn’t enjoy conflict and isn’t an adventurer at heart but chooses to involve himself because he’s needed. This is likely what Edwards’ means when he says “You’re more like Bodhi.” It sounds like the character works, not because of his charming personality or grand destiny, but because he represents the everyday folks of the world who find themselves out of their element, but still do the right thing.
Source: Gareth Edwards