Today Donnie Yen is at the TCL Chinese Theatre getting his hands and feet immortalised in cement. He has spoken with Variety about the significance to him of today’s honour:
“It’s only recently that Asian actors have been recognized for their artistic contributions,” Yen says. Jackie Chan was the first Asian actor so honored, in 1997. “So this is a great honor. It’s been a long time coming for Asian actors.”
Yen, who lives in Hong Kong, admits he initially balked at the “Star Wars” role because it would take him away from his children for five months of filming in England: “My kids said, ‘Are you crazy? It’s ‘Star Wars’,” Yen says. “They said, ‘You’ve got to go.’”
Still, Yen knows what his presence means to any film’s international box office prospects — particularly with the burgeoning movie audience in China. He didn’t want to be mere martial-arts eye-candy, as it were. “There are films where the only reason they want you is to reach the Chinese market,” he says.
“When I asked [director Gareth Edwards] why he wanted me for the role, he told me he’d studied my films and I had the persona he wanted, that he had the perfect role for me,” Yen says. “The focus isn’t on my martial-arts ability but my ability as an actor. But there are still scenes to satisfy the martial-arts fans.”
Yen is tight-lipped about his “Star Wars” character, Chirrut Imwe: “I play one of the characters who is connected with the Force,” he says. “He’s not a Jedi. His line is, ‘I AM the Force.’ Obviously, it’s a big deal, being the first Chinese actor asked to play a prominent role in a ‘Star Wars’ film. That means a lot.”
Check out Variety for the full article.
Yen also has a message direct from the TCL Chinese Theatre for Star Wars fans today, when he talked direct to StarWars.com:
— Star Wars (@starwars) November 30, 2016