When Miriam talked with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star Donnie Yen, who plays the blind Force monk Chirrut Îmwe in the film, for BBC, she got him talking more than perhaps any other interviewer during this long, international press tour. Specifically, she asked him about his fighting style in the film, and the Hong Kong action star poised for a big year in Hollywood revealed that he didn’t use any one existing style for Star Wars – he made up his own brand new one.
“I’ve done a lot of martial arts, Miriam. I was nine years old when I started martial arts, and I studied many different styles of martial arts,” Yen told the child, probably aged around that same number. “Every movie, I would create a unique martial arts for each movie. For example, in Rogue One, my character Chirrut, I designed a bit of martial arts specifically for Star Wars.”
That means that when Western audiences see him in the next xXx movie this spring, his fighting style will be different – which makes sense. Here, he’s using a staff, he’s blind, and he’s fighting large groups of armored foes. In xXx, from what we’ve seen so far, he’s fighting more one-on-one and in a modern setting.
Yen also talked about the difficulties in wearing contact lenses that genuinely obscured a lot of his vision – he was playing blind, but he was actually acting blind!
“It was not comfortable! I had to take them off every two hours and rest inbetween for twenty minutes. With the contact lenses, it was very blurry, I couldn’t see clearly, so it was very distracting,” Yen said.
Yen’s character has been hailed in most reviews as a standout in Rogue One, for both his fighting prowess and his character’s zen-like ability to remain calm in the face of all he comes across.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it’s the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core “Skywalker Saga” of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue Onetells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: “Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”