Riz Ahmed Almost Played an Entirely Different Character in ‘Rogue One,’ and Had a Different Fate
If you didn’t already guess by the Star Wars news this week, Rogue One was almost very different. Ahead of the film’s digital video release on Friday, Entertainment Weekly has been dropping tons of exclusives about the spinoff that could’ve been. We learned that Darth Vader almost killed off a major character, the film’s original happier ending, then another crazy alternate ending, and a backstory for Jyn’s mom. Today brings news not of a scrapped scene, but a scrapped character.
You’ve been warned of major Rogue One spoilers from here on out!
In Rogue One, Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook is an Imperial cargo pilot who defects from the Empire to pass on Galen Erso’s message about the Death Star. But in the script’s original versions, Ahmed was set to play an entirely different character named Bokan. Instead of choosing to defect like Bodhi, his Bokan was an Imperial engineer who was kidnapped by the rebel forces. Ahmed described the original character to the magazine:
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. 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.
The way Jyn Erso (Felcity Jones) and the rest of the gang find Ahmed’s character in the movie was also different in the original drafts. Screenwriter Gary Whitta revealed that the rebels crash-landed on Saw’s moon saying, “When they try to land, there’s a ship graveyard, and that’s part of the reason the Empire’s never found [Saw Gerrera].” But that’s not the only difference involving Ahmed’s character; the actor also shot an entirely different ending.
Those who saw Rogue One know that at the end – again, last call for spoiler-phobes – Bodhi dies from the explosion in the cargo ship. Initially though, Ahmed shot a longer and more involved death scene that included Donnie Yen’s Chirrut and Jiang Wen’s Baze covering his back. The actor described it as a kind of “slapstick comedy sequence” that ended with Bodhi dying from a gunshot wound that leads him back to the cargo ship:
There was actually this one shot that was about a minute long, and it was basically Bodhi ducking and diving from Stormtroopers to try and like get the plug to where he wanted it to go while Donnie and Jyn, when Chirrut and Baze were kind of flanking him.
Every time he’d get sprung by a Stormtrooper, Donnie would come out and Bang! then they would go down, and then Bodhi would have to crawl and jump over somebody, just to be caught again. Then Chirrut would pop up. It was almost, kind of an extended slapstick comedy sequence.
When he was running into the ship, he was shot and badly injured. He has to crawl his way back onto the ship, and it was quite extended.
That actually sounds like a pretty awesome scene – the more Chirrut and Baze action the better. But regardless of all the changes, Ahmed is happy with the character he ended up playing and the way he died. Gareth Edwards chimed in and told the magazine that despite the alterations, Ahmed was essentially playing the character they always intended. “Even though we changed the literal character, that underlining concept stayed intact,” the director said. “We thought it would be stronger if he wasn’t Saw Gerrera’s guy, but instead he knew Galen. Those sorts of things changed, but the desire for them feels similar.”
It is only Thursday, so we can bet EW has more scrapped Rogue One details on the way before the film’s digital release tomorrow.