Star Wars is a global phenomenon. The impact of these films and the vision of George Lucas steered the direction of modern filmmaking and transformed Science Fiction from a peripheral genre into one of the most successful in movie making. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the world has changed due to the franchise. Children and adults from every corner of the world have pretended to be members of the rebel force and the Empire, using the power of the Force in fantastic adventures. Orion Lee is one of the handful of those who have crossed over into actually becoming a part of this movie history with his appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as Suday Bascus. It’s both a major professional and personal achievement for Lee who recalls, “Like so many children, I’d play Star Wars as a child. My friends and I would pretend that we were piloting spaceships and using the Force to overcome overwhelming obstacles and take part in epic battles. That little boy would never have dreamed he’d be actually find himself on set aboard a spaceship and fully immersed in the visuals and drama of Star Wars. It’s a dream that I think many people have had and I feel so fortunate to have been cast in this film.”
This second installment in the Star Wars Sequel trilogy is written and directed by Rian Johnson (known for Looper, Brick) and features a familiar cast such as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as well as the new guard of Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Benecio Del Toro, and of course Orion Lee. In addition to the billions in box office earnings, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has already received four Oscar nominations. Lee gives thanks to casting director Nina Gold who offered him the role without auditioning. Humorously, Gold had passed on Orion when he auditioned for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens a few years ago. Though he wasn’t right for that film, the actor had left a lasting impression on Gold. Lee’s credits confirm his commitment to smaller adventurous productions while appearing in some of the biggest films and television shows in the industry. He’s been seen in drag (in the award nominated Happy Birthday Cindy Wei), as an out-of-place engineer (award-nominated comedy film The Expert), in the Oscar-winning 007 Skyfall, and Fury (SAG nominated), but you may not have recognized him; Lee is known for his uncanny ability to transform himself. That charming obstetrician from the iconic UK TV series East Enders is in fact the same Suday Bascus who appears in the most recent presentation in one of the world’s biggest franchise films, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Though the setting is the fantastic Star Wars universe, Orion took an everyman approach to the mind of Suday. He relates, “He’s just a rank and file member of the First Order. Suday is in one of the biggest battles of the film just trying to do what he believes in and manage the highly stressful wartime environment. He’s confident but also aware that he and the crew could die in this battle. It’s not that different than my character in Fury…except of course that we’re in a spaceship! It’s easy to get lost in the fact that you’re actually a part of the Star Wars lineage but as an actor, you immediately come back to the idea that your character is fighting for his life and that’s what is most important to him. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were surreal moments though. That was probably the greatest challenge, just keeping your mind in the game when you’re realizing that you are now part of the Star Wars myth. Exciting stuff!”