Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduces an exciting new villain: Allegiant General Pryde. The First Order officer played by Richard E. Grant is icy and reminiscent of Grand Moff Tarkin – the exact opposite of Grant. The actor who recently starred in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Nominated for an Oscar from 2018, is a Star Wars super fan and speaks in awe of his experience in Episode IX.
Polygon spoke to Grant before the film was released and learned a little more about the mysterious Pryde and what it’s like to work on Star Wars when you get into The Wizard of Oz.
Polygon: Up to this point, you said that you can’t say much about the film because you fear you will be fired. Apparently they can’t fire you at this point. Can you say something about exploring your character and what happens in the film?
Richard E. Grant: I think the extraordinary thing about what J.J. [Abrams] and Chris Terrio actually delivered something unexpected. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, it doesn’t matter whether he’s there or not, it tortures you emotionally. In the end you feel liberated, in the most cathartic sense of the word. I was concerned about how they could incorporate Carrie Fisher’s previously shot footage [which I knew very well] into the film, but it’s seamless and it seems like it was made specifically for this film, and that’s one Proof of this is the author-director team.
In terms of your character, the Imperial Forces and the First Order were largely space Nazis up to that point. Is your attitude towards General Pryde in this sense or maybe something fresh?
I think if you are playing someone who is malignantly incarnated – that is, someone who has no sense of humor at all and is determined to take every opportunity to step on someone else’s feet, to step on the head and his position to take – that’s a very good thing clear line of what to do. Some of the lines for which I have had the opportunity have a certain, weird undertone. But apart from that, the trajectory of someone who is basically an SS officer is not much room for maneuver into the NSDAP.
It was pretty straightforward in the way this malicious, evil, ambitious trajectory is in every job. It is the normalization of evil that makes it more terrifying because there is no shouting or you do not see people being beaten, but you know that this person has the iron will to command or do other people, subordinates in his name.
Did you meet one of the droids on the set?
Yes, I met them all. I watched Anthony Daniels shoot scenes. I haven’t been with him in any scene, but I would watch him do the scenes because you feel like a kid like the Disneyland version. The sets were so amazingly detailed, and I had imagined that it would be a green screen and that everything would be computer generated afterwards. But almost without exception everything that touches you, every button, every corridor that you went down, or things that explode happened. There was a part of the galaxy constellation you see behind the spaceship windows that was the only green screen. Everything else was set to real hydraulic doors. Just like in the movie.
How deep are you in the Star Wars lore? Was there Easter egg you could choose on the set, or was it sheer awe to be on the practical set?
It felt more than anything else – do you know when in The Wizard of Oz at the end of the tornado everything is black and white and the door opens and suddenly everything goes to Technicolor? You watch these films all your life. Then you enter a set and this spaceship and there are stormtroopers and lightsabers – all of these things for real. That’s how it felt. It is real and therefore absolutely surreal at the same time.
You saw the first Star Wars movie when you were in drama school. Did you continue to watch them after they came out, or did they catch you when you had time?
I saw them all when they came out, and I have all the toys that I collected and the characters and all that. I am a Star Wars fan for decades.
Are there any toys or memorabilia that you are particularly proud of or that you value the most?
No, I think it would be like trying to tell which children are your favorites. I like them all.
What was the first thing you bought?
I can’t remember what was the first because I got a lot at the same time.
I’m curious whether you’re not just watching movies, but also playing one of the spin-off games or reading one of the books that came out when the series got bigger.
No, I didn’t. I’ve never played a video game in my life because I’m probably the wrong generation. I never bought the books either. I am addicted to films, and here my passion has remained – loyal to the film.
The prequels have sparked most of the discussions among fans as to whether they have stood the test of time. What do you think?
Ah, I think the originals have stood the test of time
Do you have a favorite Star Wars villain from the entire series?
Oh, Darth Vader, yes.
Did you watch The Mandalorian at all?
Not yet, no.
Did you see Baby Yoda?
Did you hear anything from him?
Yes, I heard. I heard and read it, but I didn’t see it. In the past five months I have made a television series [AMC’s Dispatches from Elsewhere] in Philadelphia with Sally Field and Jason Segel. I was penned up by Baby Yoda.
Do you have an opinion too PORGS?
Yes i love her
Would you eat one
I’ll let you decide