I am so grateful to Disney for sending me on this all expense paid trip to cover ROGUE ONE, “Star Wars Rebels”, “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” and the BluRay release of PINOCCHIO. All opinions are my own.
I have to admit, I had no clue who Donnie Yen was when I received our interview line up. I know that in ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY he plays a blind man who is very spiritual with the Force. He isn’t a Jedi, at least from what I’ve read about him and the small footage I saw of ROGUE ONE, but he does display some amazing martial arts. You see, what I didn’t understand before I interviewed Donnie Yen was that he’s a pretty big deal. Okay, a major deal; we’re talking the biggest action hero in Hong Kong.
Yen said, of Chirrut,
Chirrut, he’s blind but he’s spiritual, Kathy Kennedy [president of Lucasfilm] described [Chirrut]. He’s the spiritual center of the team. He’s the Force believer. He preaches this and he got a little bit of a sense of humor…and he beats up all the Storm Troopers
The idea for Chirrut to be blind was Yen’s, although he told us that it was more of a collaboration than his idea. Yen described how the development of Chirrut as a blind man came to be,
It’s the collaboration of both. That’s the nature of being an artist. You express your takes on your character. So in the beginning when I was discussing my character with Gareth and I just felt it would be so much cooler to make him less of a cliché character, like, [the] warrior monk, you know. How serious is that, right? 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. So I suggested it and [Gareth’s] cool with it and Disney loved it and here we are.
The contacts that Yen wore during filming had to be taken out every three hours because they irritated his eyes. Yen also told us that he actually couldn’t see very well which made his role challenging, it was a challenge he wanted to tackle. Yen said,
Somehow they couldn’t manage to make [a] blue pair of contact lenses and that specific look [while also] giving [me] the full clarity of my sight. So I was having difficulty measuring the distance. But [what was] more difficult wasn’t even about seeing clearly. It was more as an actor I couldn’t look at my fellow actors in their eyes and I couldn’t get their reactions. When I’m talking I have to look at a point and that was very frustrating because I didn’t wanna look without the complexity of each line and the emotion.
So I [tried] to fine-tune my acting every single day. It was quite frustrating [because] you’re not in control of yourself [when] you’re supposed to have all these years of experience being an actor. That was quite difficult