Riz Ahmed Almost Played a Different Character in Rogue One

Via Ew.com 

Which paths through the galaxy weren’t taken? That’s a question Star Wars fans still have about Rogue One, and EW will be providing answers this week leading up to the movie’s digital debut on Friday. (It’s out on Blu-ray April 4.) Today in our Rogue One Revelations series:

Before he was Bodhi Rook, Riz Ahmed was playing a crazed, imprisoned engineer named Bokan …

Who am I?

That’s the soul-searching question of Bodhi Rook, the defecting Imperial pilot Riz Ahmed played in Rogue One, and throughout the Star Wars standalone film he answered that question with bravery and sacrifice. But in the original drafts of the story he didn’t even exist.

Ahmed took the job thinking he would play someone else.

“His name was Bokan, and he was actually Saw Gerrera’s engineer, living on a planet with a strong electromagnetic field, which meant that electronics were never working,” Ahmed says. “He was actually an Imperial engineer who had been kidnapped and kind of had Stockholm Syndrome. He had been living there for so long, he kind of lost it, like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.”

Bokan was still a key to unlocking the Death Star’s weakness, so he was sought by both heroes and villains alike. The moon Gerrera was using as a hideout protected their little crew of insurgents from all search parties, and the Rebel team led by Jyn Erso originally wrecked its U-wing trying to track them down.

“We knew we needed to ditch the U-Wing and get them on that Imperial shuttle that they used at the end. In the finished film, you see that scene happen on Eadu,” says Gary Whitta, who worked on the early screenplays.

Before that evolution in the story, the Rebels crash-landed amid the electrical storms of Gerrera’s moon. “When they try to land, there’s a ship graveyard, and that’s part of the reason the Empire’s never found [Gerrera],” says Gary Whitta, who worked on the early screenplays. “Saw has modified his ships to survive in that environment but nothing else can land.”

As everyone knows who saw the film, Bokan became Bodhi Rook, the pilot from Jedha who led Jyn Erso to her captured scientist father. The name change was symbolic, Ahmed says.

“Bodhi means awakening,” Ahmed says. “He’s a character who goes through kind of an enlightenment.”

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