‘Rogue One’ Star Explains Why The ‘Star Wars’ Prequels Are Actually Good

Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace

The early reviews for Rogue One are in, and it looks like the first-ever standalone Star Wars film has carried on from where The Force Awakens left off last year and delivered another enthralling installment that means the franchise has never been stronger.

This wasn’t always the case, of course. While 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was the most eagerly anticipated film of the year, probably the decade, it proved to be a disappointment, especially when compared to the majesty of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi.

The Phantom Menace’s follow-ups, 2002’s Attack Of The Clones and 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith, were as equally lambasted, but now Riz Ahmed, who portrays Bodhi Rook in Rogue One, has shot to the defense of the Star Wars prequels, insisting that their bad reputation is unjust.

Riz Ahmed in Rogue One

Riz Ahmed made his case for the Star Wars prequels to Screen Crush. But while he insisted that The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, and Revenge Of The Sith were underrated, he still obviously insisted that Jar Jar Binks was odious. Riz Ahmed remarked,

“People say that, but I did not have a massive problem with the prequels at all. There were some elements that stood out. Jar Jar Binks, I didn’t enjoy him as a character. But people had a problem with them because they weren’t broad and tough and cheek. I enjoy that. I enjoy the fact that it was about grown-up politics and the dissolution of the League of Nations and World War and the rise of fascism. I really enjoyed that and I really enjoyed Clone Wars. I really don’t see what the big problem is, to be quite honest.”

This isn’t the first time that the specter of Jar Jar Binks has been brought up during the promotion for Rogue One. While talking to Esquire about his role as K-2S0 in Rogue One, Alan Tudyk revealed his own insecurities about portraying the comic relief in the film, admitting that he told director Gareth Edwards to make sure his performance didn’t match the long chastised Gungan.

Felcity Jones on the Rogue One poster

To make sure that Alan Tudyk avoided imitating one of the most despised characters in movie history, they decided to use motion-capture to film his parts as K-2SO, while he also made sure that he was on set and interacting in character during scenes with the other actors. Alan Tudyk explained,

“I was worried about being humorous. [K-2SO] sort of becomes a comic character within the movie, but he’s not telling jokes. I approached the director about it and full on said, ‘I don’t want to go Jar Jar. Make sure you keep an eye out for that.’ And the way to do it—and I think this actually came from George Lucas—was that he’s not a joke teller.

“The humor from a droid is not because he’s telling jokes. The humor comes out of their own personalities. K-2 has been reprogrammed from being an Imperial enforcer droid, and he’s very frank in situations that aren’t always appreciated. He’s very willful. So somebody can say, ‘Droid, go get those.’ And he can say, ‘I don’t want to. You can.’ So that’ll be funny in the moment. He’s not trying to be funny, he’s just trying to be himself. So that was the way that he became funny—he was written as his circumstances.”

We’ve now only got mere hours to wait until we find out whether Rogue One is more Empire Strikes Back than Phantom Menace. But the answer already appears to be with us, as its score of 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes already suggests that it’s going to be a downright enjoyable adventure.

[Featured Image by Lucasfilm]