I love a good villain. They are usually my favorite characters in films – especially in Star Wars. Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, & Darth Vader are some of the best villains out there – and I have a feeling Krennic is going to join that list. From the footage we saw of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story already, Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Krennic, is a fantastic bad guy. He is so good at being bad – someone the audience is going to love to hate. I was really excited to sit down and talk with Ben about his role in the new Star Wars.
The first thing we asked Ben was for him to tell us a little bit about his character. “I play Director Orson Krennic. 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.” We knew that Ben grew up a Star Wars fan, and so we asked if he ever imagined himself on the side of the Empire. He basically answered as Krennic, and right then, his interview became my favorite of the day. “No, 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 come to realize that 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 then answered as himself, “I didn’t but I wish I could have told myself at various points through life, ‘Don’t worry, one day you’ll be in Star Wars.’ That would have been good.”
Ben has played some pretty awesome bad guys in his career, and it was pointed out that a quote online called them “unlikable sociopaths”. We asked Ben what he thought about that, “That’s my recent body of work. You might call it my unlikable sociopath phase. I do think there’s a certain palette of emotions that you get to work with more if you’re playing the bad guys – like the angry, resentful, enraged sort of stuff. I consider it a real honor to be playing bad guys, but I’ve had a long and varied career so I don’t associate myself with my characters.”
When we talked with Gareth Edwards (the director) about hiring Ben for the role of Krennic, he told us a story about meeting on a rooftop in LA. I will have more about it in my interview with him (check it out on 12/16) but we asked Ben for his side of the story. “I got summoned to go and meet [Gareth]. He basically told me the story and then he told me who he wanted me to play. I was just a little concerned. I thought ‘Are you sure?’ but I was incredibly flattered. It was one of those things that got a little bit foggy because I started to get a little bit overwhelmed by it. I was pretty sure by the end of it that he had offered it to me.” I loved hearing how much of a fan Ben was, just like me.
One of my favorite questions (and answers) of the interview was when someone asked Ben if he thought his character, Krennic, or Darth Vader was more dangerous. “I don’t think there’s any competition you know in a one-on-one. I think the Empire being what it is – Darth’s pretty good but I’d hate to see him go up against a couple of squadrons. I’d hate to see him go one-on-one against the Death Star. So really [it’s] about influences – where you sit. I think [Krennic] regards Darth as the emperor’s pet – he’s all fascinated with him. He’s a very impressive dude but what does he do? He’s a very important figurehead but in terms of the strategies and what we actually have to get done – he’s a great car but someone’s got to drive it.”
With the cast members of the Rebel Alliance, we heard a lot about the concept of family. We asked Ben if he felt that the cast members of the Empire was that way as well. “I think those guys did form that because they went through a lot. And you know obviously in this sort of balance of shooting those guys are spending a lot of time together. The Empire’s a bit more of a solitary place in that way. But I had a good group, a good little cadre with me. I had the dude that’s my second in command and the death troopers with me. But the atmosphere onset changes but you can’t have a bad day. You look up and you see storm troopers around. You really can’t have a terribly bad day.”
There is a certain part in the film where Krennic refers to a child as “IT”. I refuse to give anything away, but it was a really powerful scene, and it made me hate him. We asked him about that scene and asked him how he prepared for the role. “When we were going into this, the main thing that I looked at was just the officers in the original film. You sort of have to do a bit of a rewind and think about what it was like when they were making it in ‘77 because they were all very British. I wanted Krennic to sound enough like one of those guys. But I put that costume on and I’ve got those boots on and that cape and all of a sudden I just feel that power.”
We asked Ben if there was anything he took from the set, possibly the waterproof cape, and his response had us all laughing. “That would be the thing to keep. Look, they’re very, very, very good at not letting you keep stuff from the film. Let me tell you what’s fantastic about this country. And I do love this. You can take the fifth here. What a beautiful country.” The interview ended with Ben talking about his favorite scene (that he could speak about of course). “That scene you saw with Mads, that’s amongst my favorites. That was an incredibly brutally, brutally difficult day. We were in Iceland. It was absolutely prohibitively freezing and the weather changed greatly. There’s a scene with Darth Vader that is pretty special. And there’s also another scene which you guys haven’t seen – it’s in the Imperial territories – that was wonderful to do as well.”
See just how incredibly bad Krennic is when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th!
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