In the new Rogue One movie, Donnie Yen’s Star Wars character is blind, yet fierce! Read what Yen says about playing a blind man, and why he chose this for his character…
Rogue One: A Star Wars story is set to debut in theaters this weekend, and we’re continuing with all of the coverage! While we were at Lucasfilm HQ in San Francisco, we heard from Donnie Yen. He plays Chirrut Imwe, a spiritual member of the rebel alliance, and he’s not your average Star Wars character.
Chirrut is blind. But he wasn’t always going to be that way.
As the story developed and filming began, Yen thought he’d talk with Director Gareth Edwards about his character to express his opinion. “I just felt it would be so much cooler to make him less of a cliché character, like, a warrior monk. How about give him a little bit of vulnerability, you know, like disabledness. How about being blind? And a little bit sense of humor? That was always been my persistence of keeping him grounded, having that sense of humor so the audience can relate to him a lot more.” Although Chirrut’s blindness was Yen’s idea, he does not take all of the credit and instead calls it a collaborative effort between him and Edwards.
When it comes to acting, Yen has tried many different roles and pushes himself to the limit. Blindness was very difficult for Yen, as he felt as though he wasn’t in control without his vision. “I wanted to be perceived as a good actor and I strive to be a better actor each time. I never played a blind person before, it was really challenging and I underestimated the difficulty of playing a blind character.”
Yen said wearing the contacts was “very irritating.” He had to take them out every 3 hours so they wouldn’t irritate his eyes, and every ten minutes he needed drops. “And you can’t really see, everything was blurry. Somehow they still were not able to manage to make a blue pair of contact lenses and having that specific look and giving the full clarity for my sight. So I was having difficulty measuring the distance, as well as seeing clearly.” Yen said that it was more difficult than just seeing clearly. As an actor, Yen says that he couldn’t look at his fellow actors in their eyes, so he couldn’t get their reactions and be able to see the emotion in each of their faces. “I was trying to fine-tune my acting every single day. It was quite frustrating as you feel like you’re not in control of yourself, where you’re supposed to have all these years of experience being an actor.”
Do not miss Donnie Yen’s Star Wars character Chirrut Imwe, blind but spiritual, holds The Force near and dear, and is insanely talented! You will be pleasantly surprised when you see what this guy can do to help fight the Empire.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters December 16th!
I attended a press trip courtesy of Disney. Travel, lodging and other logistics are provided, opinions are those of Honey + Lime. Movie still images by Lucasfilm.