There are some films which immediately inspire awe and respect everywhere in the world. The Star Wars franchise is one of the most enduring and beloved of all. The world created by George Lucas has spanned four decades now and expanded the possibilities of transporting audiences to a different time and place. Being in these films is the tipping point for actors from being known in their own country to instant global notoriety. Orion Lee is fully aware that his role as officer Suday Bascus in Star Wars: The Last Jedi makes him the envy of Star Wars fans everywhere, as well as a member of a highly exclusive club of actors. This Walt Disney Pictures/ Lucasfilm production includes members of the original first film like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher along with the new generation such as Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Benicio Del Toro, and of course Orion. While the film’s multiple Oscar and BAFTA nominations, along with nearly $1.5 Billion in WW gross are momentous, it’s the fact that his character will live in the audience’s hearts for decades to come which is the most meaningful to Orion.
The Star Wars franchise is known for not only its iconic main characters but for the embrace of the supporting ones by fans of the films. It’s a badge of honor for them to be familiar with these characters, their backstory, and the actors who portray them. Orion’s presentation of Suday Bascus is that of a member of the First Order military. In the middle of an extensive battle with the Rebellion he is the vital link between captain and crew. Bascus and crew display the timeless scenario of warriors struggling for their lives and what they believe in, whether you agree with their cause or not. As their ship’s defenses go down, they are confronted with the very real possibility that this could be their end. Lee confirms that he didn’t start from zero in becoming familiar with the mindest of a soldier as he had appeared in Columbia Pictures’ Fury starring Brad Pitt, Michael Pena, and Shia LeBeouf. While he rewatched The Force Awakens to get the feeling of the First Order and what they stand for, there was one unexpected factor which benefited his performance that was not completely pleasant. Orion relates, “The First Order costumes had very high necks. As a side effect, if you stood in any other manner than completely and perfectly straight, you’d choke yourself. This was a very effective means of reminding all the cast the way they had to stand in a military context.” He adds, “Being immersed in the world of Star Wars can be jarring at points. The destroyer set is so detailed and complex yet the outside is just wooden slats so it’s funny being in the destroyer and then walking out to see the exterior so plain. Of course, the outside of the destroyer is surrounded by green screen so that the Rebellion bombers can be added in later by the fantastic VFX team.”
Orion thanks casting director Nina Gold (known for her work on Game of Thrones, Les Miserable, The Kings Speech, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the Star Wars series) for offering him the role without an audition. The role of Suday Bascus simultaneously made him a part of the largest Science Fiction Franchise in history and allowed him to work with acclaimed professionals like director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick). Lee comments, “I love Rian’s other films. I was really impressed by how well versed he is in the Star Wars history. There was a moment where we were waiting for something technical and Rian was completely up for doing an improvisation to potentially add another scene into the movie. He works so nimbly and knew the universe so well that within a few minutes we had worked together to create a new scene and shot it. It was fantastically exciting to work with such a flexible and knowledgeable professional.”
Though he’s an adult and an accomplished actor with a very impressive resume of roles in well-known films and television programs, it’s obvious that Star Wars: The Last Jedi serves as that same childhood touchstone for this actor as it does for all of us. Orion relates, “As a child, I’d play Star Wars stories with friends, imagining myself piloting spaceships and using the power of the Force. To find myself as a part of creating the stories that will lead another generation to do this; It’s very special being part of that magic and that myth. The most challenging thing was actually balancing the excitement of being on the set of such an iconic story while keeping everything grounded at the same time. It’s easy to think of it as a game, remembering all the times in youth when you and your friends played Star Wars, but it resonates so profoundly with kids and adults because it deals with universal themes in a relatable down to earth way. I’d have to snap out of the ‘Oh my gosh this is so cool. Pew pew pew’ moments and get back to the acting work of the imaginary circumstances.”