Riz Ahmed just came off a spectacular run as Nasir Khan on HBO's The Night Of and recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote…Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Oh my god! Also, prepare yourself – he's British.
I know I'm not alone in discovering an actor was actually someone I've seen in something else but didn't make the connection immediately, but this one really blew my mind. In my defense, Ahmed's character Bodhi has gotten the least attention so far in the marketing of this new Star Wars anthology film. Also, Colbert says in this interview “A year ago I didn't know your name, no offense, I didn't know who Riz Ahmed was. But now the Jason Bourne movie, this series, you're in Rogue One – I have to know who you are.” A lot more people are going to start connecting his face to his name soon, that's for sure.
Like Colbert, I was also surprised to learn Ahmed is British. Though funny story there…
It's kind of weird because the way I deal with accents is as soon as I get a job, as soon as I land in that city where we're filming I think 'I'm going to start talking in the accent of the character to the first person I meet on the production.' And then they just think that's how I talk and then so just out of like, embarrassment, I can't go back on that…but then when we wrap they can feel quite betrayed, weirdly.
“There are a lot of things I can't tell you,” said Ahmed when Colbert got around to asking about Rogue One. “I can tell you how we filmed it a little bit,” he conceded.
It's kind of different to the other Star Wars movies. It feels very immersive, it's like a boots on the ground feel. Our director [Gareth Edwards] would often operate the camera and we would just do these really intense scenes where we would do a scene then without cutting we would do it again, do it again, do it again, do it again, do it again without stopping, just again and again. And so the whole film has a really intense energy and partly that's because of that process but partly because we never got to break to go to the toilet [laughing] within that process at all.
While Ahmed couldn't talk specifics, his character has previously been described:
Bodhi is this Rebel squad”s lead pilot. He tends to be hot-headed, but any abrasiveness is overshadowed by his skills in the air – and the void of space. “He flies a lot of cargo, one of his key jobs,” [Kathleen] Kennedy says. “And he tends to be a little tense, a little volatile, but everybody in the group really relies on his technical skills.”
So far Bodhi hasn't had any dialogue in the Rogue One trailers. I look forward to learning more as we head towards its December 16th release. Check out the Colbert interview for yourself where Ahmed also talks about the difference in taking about race in the US versus the UK and shows off his Riz MC skills.