Why ‘Rogue One’ Fan-Favorite Donnie Yen Almost Passed on the ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff

“It’s crazy but I was hesitant about taking this role,” the Chinese actor says

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It’s true — Donnie Yen almost passed on the opportunity to play fan-favorite Chirrut in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

“It’s crazy but I was hesitant about taking this role. I was flattered, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave my family for five months to go to London, because I just got off another movie,” Yen told the Los Angeles Times.  “I turned to my children and I said, ‘Do you like baba’s ‘Ip Man’ series?’ — because I’m known to Western audiences for ‘Ip Man.’ ‘Or do you want baba to be in ‘Star Wars’?’ They went, ‘Star Wars,’ of course!’”

That’s when Yen realized “there’s something special here.”

“Then my friends and family and fanboys, everybody was so excited and I realized, this is not just making a movie,” he added. “You’re making history here. So that’s how I got involved, and I’m so glad I did.”

Yen stars as Chirrut Imwe, a key player in the Rebel’s mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Stricken with blindness, he is still capable of taking out Stormtroopers with just a wooden staff and the Force.

Now, Yen says, “I mean, what more can I want? People die to do this — and I have the coolest lines!”

“Rogue One” stars Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen and Riz Ahmed. It takes place between the prequel and original trilogies, and depicts Jyn Erso’s efforts to steal the plans for the Death Star, the ultimate weapon of the Galactic Empire, which has terrorized the galaxy far, far away since the first “Star Wars” in 1977.

The film earned $155 million domestically its opening weekend and grossed $290.5 million globally.