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Interview with Donnie Yen – the actor of Rogue One

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Following the success of last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars anthology movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released by Lucasfilm to extend the story line for Star Wars movies.

Donnie Yen, who played Chirrut Îmwe, atttended the first Asian press conference in Hong Kong. More than 100 media from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, came to press conference for the interview of Donnie Yen. During interview, he shared the experience during shooting.

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1) Comparing with your previous work, such as the Ip Man series. Is there any difference in acting in Rogue One?

Donnie:The main differences are film genre and character’s background, but as an actor, my job is to bring the character alive in any film.

2) Before accepting this role, did you have any consideration?

Donnie: I didn’t consider too much, my only concern was to leave my family for 5 months and was it really worth it? Thankfully, I accepted this opportunity. I am honored and fulfilled to play this role.

▲Chirrut Îmwe, played by Donnie. Deeply spiritual, Chirrut Îmwe believes all living things are connected through the Force. His sightless eyes do not prevent him from being a highly skilled warrior. Though he lacks Force abilities, this warrior monk has rigorously honed his body through intense physical and mental discipline.

3) Is there any memorable moments of Chirrut Îmwe?

Donnie:Definitely the connection with The Force, an iconic line “I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.” No one will refuse this acting opportunity.

Before joining the cast, I read the script and Chirrut Îmwe wasn’t a blind man. I made a suggestion to the crew to turn him into a blind man, to increase his uniqueness. Afterward, they thought that is a great idea and accepted it.

4) Any challenge in playing a blind role?

Donnie:My biggest challenge was I couldn’t close my eyes during my performance, but I needed to display the essence of a blind martial artist.

During my performance, I wore special contact lenses to cover my eyes. Even though my sight was blocked, but I was still able to see clearly ahead and measure the distance.

Besides acting as a blind man, I also needed to fight like a blind man. That is the most difficult part of acting a blind man.

5) Did you design the action sequences yourself?

Donnie:During shooting, cast and crew were always exchanging opinions to bring out the best performance.

Everyone surely watched my action films. When they encounter problems and decisions on action design, they naturally came to me for advises, and I was glad to share my advise.

Therefore, I led most of the action sequences and it also had my own style strongly.

6) How does your role connect the old and the new Star Wars universe?

Donnie:First, Chirrut Îmwe is a blind man. Second, The Force is an invisible power. They are both connecting the universe with heart.

7)  Can you share any filming experience?

Donnie:Every day was a new experience. The Star Wars filming location shocked me. They spared no expense to create a mega and splendid world. 1:1 X-Wing, 1:1 Y-Wing, both with highly authentic materials.

It totally brought the actors into that world. There was no way that you can’t get into character and into the Star Wars Universe.

8) Wen Jiang said your role would die, is that true?

Donnie: Haha, I don’t know, you should go ask him. We should keep a little mystery to this film

9) How did martial art and Star Wars connect?

Donnie:Everyone surely enjoyed my films, seeing me was like seeing the reflection of my past roles.

In a way, Star Wars is an eastern martial art film. It also has its own philosophy and world.

It was easy for me to get into it. To me, martial art and The Force are both an invisible idea and strength. The former pursues the limitation of body and soul; the latter pursues the balance of heart and soul.

10) What do you think about the style of this film?

Donnie:This film has a realistic warfare style. Actors had to put up a thick makeup to create that warfare feeling.

11) How do you feel about joining the Star Wars family?

Donnie:It made me more popular, especially among Star Wars fans, haha. However, making a film, the important things are quality, role and a joyful filming.

12) Do Star Wars have any special meaning to you?

Donnie:First, Star Wars was my childhood memories and my kids like Star Wars too. Second, as a Chinese and Hong Kong actor, to be able to act an important character in this sci-fi masterpiece, it is very fulfilling.

13) How many Star Wars film did you sign on?

Donnie:Haha, I can’t tell you anything about that either.

14) Did you learn anything in filming Rogue One?

Donnie:I learned how to plan and produce a quality film. Especially in planning and budgeting during pre-production.

Chinese films won’t invest much in post-production, but in Hollywood films, they view post-production importantly, such as sound effects, editing and special effects. They can spend a whole year in post-production just to make it perfect.

In Hollywood production, they strive for entirety. The directors are always passionate about film score and have a clear direction. It’s because score can strongly affect the quality of a film.

However, in Chinese production, score and directing are usually separated. They both have its advantages and disadvantages.

15)  Is there anything you would like to say to all Star Wars fans?

Donnie:Remember to support Rogue One in Cinema!

About Man Kam

居住於香港的星戰毒男,沉迷於科幻及文字世界。夢想訪問George Lucas、一眾星戰導演及演員、參觀美國天行者牧場、提早退休寫書。

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