This event was hosted by Disney. All travel & accommodations were provided by Disney.
I had the pleasure of walking into Lucasfilm HQ and interviewing the cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. For those of you just now tuning in, it’s crucial for you to know that the evening before these interviews, a select few members of the press and I screened 28 minutes of special Rogue One footage. Don’t even ask because I don’t have any spoilers. The footage left us with more questions then we began with, which is why it was incredibly exciting to speak to the Rogue One cast.
I was specifically looking forward to meeting and interviewing Ben Mendesohn, the actor who plays Rogue One’s villain, Director Orson Krennic. From the limited footage that we saw, his character was absolutely bone chilling. He’s a villain that you’ll love to hate.
Ben Mendelsohn introduces us to Director Orson Krennic
It isn’t new news that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is brand new to the Star Wars saga. The characters are new, the story is new, and it’s all very exciting! Staying true to every Star Wars story, there has to be a bad guy! So who exactly is Rogue One’s villain? Here’s Ben’s description of him.
He is the director of military intelligence and operations. And for the purposes of our film it means he’s the dude that built the Death Star and is bringing it to its final brilliance.
Meeting with Rogue One Director, Gareth Edwards in a top-secret location
This story is straight out of the set of a movie. Due to the secrecy of the film, Director Gareth Edwards was very careful about where he had conversations about the film. Instead of a typical phone call or dinner meeting, he basically scheduled a meeting with Ben Mendelsohn about the role on the top of a secret building in LA. Seriously, you’d picture this as being in a mystery novel, but it’s real life.
Ben Mendelsohn describes his conversation with Gareth as basically a big fog. “He told me the story and then he told me who he wanted me to play. I was a little concerned. But I was incredible flattered.” He wasn’t fully sure that he was just offered one of the biggest roles of his lifetime. “I started to get a little bit overwhelmed by it.” By then end of the conversation he’d realized that he was definitely offered the role, but that he’d after to keep it to himself for what felt like far too long.
Becoming a Star Wars villain
I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t grow up wishing to become a Star Wars villain. Maybe a dream of being in Star Wars is so far fetched that we never even consider it. Even as an actor, Ben Mendelsohn had no idea he’d be in Star Wars but he absolutely wished he could have used it as a pep talk. “I wish I could have told myself at various points through life, don’t worry. One day you’ll be in Star Wars.”
As for being a Star Wars villain, did he really grow up thinking he’d be #TeamEmpire? Absolutely not.
I mean but that’s the folly of youth isn’t it? No one imagines that they’re going to end up on the side of the empire. But you get older. You know you come to realize the peace and stability in the galaxy is worth fighting for and that all these airy, fairy ideals of the rebellion are very well and good but what happens when they get into power?
He literally had the whole room in tears with laughter. He’s truly one of the most fun actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. He’s the perfect combination of funny, yet chilling. This is exactly why Alan Tudyk respects him so much as a villain.
He’s played many villains in his day, but is that really what he prefers? Ben Mendelsohn describes playing a bad guy as working with a wider palette of emotions, “like the angry, resentful, enraged sort of stuff.” He also wants to make sure that we, as an audience and as fans, realize that the characters he plays don’t define him. He enjoys it, but he’s much more than a character.
I consider it a real honor. But look, I’ve had a long and varied career so I don’t associate myself with my characters,it’s fine that everyone else does.
I think that’s really saying something! Being that he really isn’t the evil individual that he plays in this film, it must be difficult to get into character… or so we’d think. When you’re in the Star Wars environment, with the costumes and the scene setup specifically for you, you kinda just follow along. At least that’s what Ben did. He said that he studied the officers in the original film. “I wanted Krennic to sound like enough of one of those guys.” That was his plan at the beginning. That was before they turned on the Star Wars charm.
You put that costume on and you’ve got those boots on and you have that cape. And all of a sudden you just feel that power.
Director, Orson Krennic Vs. Darth Vader – Who would win?
It’s the question of the century: who’d more dangerous? I mean, this is a difficult question because we’ve always viewed Darth Vader as the biggest, baddest villain of all time. Could Krennic really be worse? Eh, I’d have to see the full movie to answer that. But Ben has a good answer.
I don’t think there’s any competition in a one-on-one.
He also said that he wouldn’t do so well going up against a couple of squadrons or one-on-one against the Death Star! Did Krennic really just diss Darth?
He [Krennic] regards Darth as the Empire’s pet and he’s fascinated with him. He’s a very impressive dude but what does he do? He’s like an ver important figurehead, but in terms of strategies? He’s a great car, but someone’s got to drive it.
Yes, he totally went there. I’d love to see a Krennic and Darth Twitter beef.
So, did Ben keep anything from the set?
Let me tell you what’s fantastic about this country. And I do love this. You can take the fifth here, you know? What a beautiful country.
We ended the interview with a group photo and guess what? I shook his hand. Yep. That happened. He was very kind, sweet, and friendly. I mean, I’m still here aren’t I?
See Ben Mendelsohn in Rogue One on 12/16
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.