I had a prop hire company about 15 years ago, supplying props for TV and films including Trainspotting. A Casting Director asked to take my photograph and that evening I was asked if I would like to be in Peter Capaldi’s new film, Strictly Sinatra playing a gangster which I agreed to.I remember Peter giving me my very first direction, he called out on set, “Hey you, what’s your name?” I answered “Rony” and he replied, “Move out of shot Rony, you’re too tall!” Subsequently I went on to work in other TV Dramas and Films such as Rebus, Garrows Law, Eagle, Valhalla Rising and Outlander to name a few.
How did you get cast for The Force Awakens? And what was your reaction when you heard you got the part of a First Order officer?
I was in London playing a butcher on Tulip Fever I knew they were filming Star Wars VII and a friend of mine was 1st Assistant Director so he suggested I send my CV to the Casting Director and I got the call to go to Pinewood for costume fitting. I was absolutely over the moon when I found out the part I was playing was a First Order Officer.
Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?
Not really a big fan but I am now and feel that I owe a responsibility to the diehard fans.
You are in the scene in which Domhnall Gleeson’s character General Hux gives that memorable speech, standing next to Gwendoline Christie’s character. What can you tell about your experiences being in that scene?
Well I couldn’t resist asking Gwendoline how she managed to pee wearing her costume and she said if she told me she would have to kill me! Also J.J. kept thinking there was something wrong with the scene then he got “Get a box for Rony!” I’m 6’1″ and I had to stand on a box next to Gwendoline who is even taller with her Captain Phasma helmet on.
In which other scenes can we see you?
No other scenes that I can see.
Can you share some of your other memories regarding the time you worked on The Force Awakens?
At the end of the first day all 6 First Order officers were lined up, one of the ADs started going down the line telling each one they were no longer required, which met with some grief as some of the guys thought they had been booked for 5 days. I was thinking, “Oh well, that’s it then.” When she got to me she said, “You’re staying” she turned to the others and said “It’s because he is an Admiral you were all Generals.”
I read that JJ Abrams called you the new Peter Cushing! Can you tell something more about this moment?
It happened when I walked on set for the first time, he called out “We have the new Peter Cushing”. All I could think of as a response was “I wish!”
The big question: will we see you again in Episode VIII and/or Rogue One?
I’m penciled in for Star Wars VIII so hope and pray.
Of all the things you have done so far…what do you regard as the highlight of your career?
I would say Star Wars VII was a career highlight although I’ve been more prominent in other things but when 2 minute trailers for a movie get over 65 million views you know it’s kind of special and being asked to join Sci-Fi Signers United and realize your autographed photograph is in demand… Now that’s cool.