The casting trend for the new generation of Star Wars films seems to be leaning in the favor of casting relative newcomers in key roles, making instant stars out of Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in the wake of The Force Awakens; and catapulting actors who have been flying under the radar for awhile, like Alden Ehrenreich, into a whole new light after being picked to become the young Han Solo in that spinoff film. And while the careers of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Forrest Whitaker had already been established when they were cast in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie’s ensemble nature provided an opportunity for the actors who made up Jyn Erso’s band of rebels to become household names themselves.
Among the rebels was Riz Ahmed, whose career showed incredible promise as the driver to Jake Gyllenhaal’s sociopath freelance news photographer in the 2014’s Nightcrawler. Even though the crime thriller was a big break for Ahmed, in didn’t exempt him from the audition process for Rogue One – which explains why the actor went to extraordinary lengths to get director Gareth Edwards’ attention.
In an interview with ET, Ahmed revealed that he sent the filmmaker 14 audition videos in his quest to play Empire cargo pilot-turned-Rebel Alliance hero Bodhi Rook.
“I sent him like two or three versions of it. I woke up the next morning and I hadn’t gotten an e-mail back so I thought, ‘Why don’t I send him another two or three more versions of it!’ and then I kind of thought, ‘Oh you know what? Maybe if he had a different accent or different costumes.’ so I did that again, and I sent him 14 takes of this character over like, two or three days. I was spamming quite hardcore, to be honest, and I’m just really grateful he didn’t take out a restraining order.”
Luckily for Ahmed, Edwards responded, but not exactly in the way he expected.
“He kind of e-mailed me back and said, ‘Look, Riz, thank you for the auditions, please stop sending me the auditions. We’ll be in touch.’ I was like, ‘Oh, well done you screwed up! You screwed up just by being a psycho!’”
Star Wars fans will get to judge for themselves whether Ahmed went overboard with auditions, since the compilation of the videos are included in the bonus features on the Rogue One Blu-ray, which will be released April 4. Ultimately, if fans do think he got a bit overambitious, it doesn’t matter, because not only did Ahmed win the role, he owned it. After seeing the film, fans have to believe all the passion Ahmed put into his auditions was poured an then some into his actual portrayal, contributing to the many reasons Rogue One became an international blockbuster.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits Blu-ray April 4, 2017.