Lucasfilm presents first stand alone Star Wars film, which aims to take audiences to the fateful battle for the Death Star plans–an event we’ve been waiting to see since the release of Star Wars: A New Hope.
In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Rebellion has to count on a small few who operate under a mysterious tip and take a chance to find a weakness built into the Empire’s plans for planetary destruction. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and produced by Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens), the film features a band of unlikely heroes who find themselves tasked to do the extraordinary in the face of great odds.
At the press day we found out more about the film from the creative team of Edwards and Kennedy along with their cast: Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic) , Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe), and Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook).
Here are the 21 most interesting facts from the press tour stop in San Francisco.
- Kathleen Kennedy assures that there won’t be a follow-up film to ‘Rogue One’, “When we came up with this idea to do the standalone movies, what’s liberating in many ways is the notion that we can come up with these stories inside the Star Wars universe that really have a beginning, middle and an end, and they stand truly on their own, and this does.”, she shared. If anything, ‘Ep. IV: A New Hope’ is the immediate sequel since this is about the very plans that a certain Princess hides in a very special R2 unit in that film’s opening.
- Edwards felt that his crew went through the trenches much like the squad in the film. In aiming to make a different film with more of a wartime feel to it among the genres being mixed, they felt like they too were in a battle to prove that this could be a unique take on a Star Wars story while not being exactly like what follows after.
- Edwards really wanted to crack the film’s emotional core to create it’s own mythology, which he thinks is what makes the Star Wars films so distinct. They wanted to take their time on it and it took about two and a half years.
- While Diego Luna’s research for Cassian focused on speaking to a military vet and watching war films to inform his take on the film’s Rebellion Captain, he also constantly found inspiration in the film that started it all. “I love Star Wars and I love the films and A New Hope is probably the first film I really connected with, so I would go back to that film to find a connection again.” he shared.
- Donnie Yen didn’t look to his martial arts background necessarily to find Chirrut’s relationship with the Force. He explained, “You know, I always think of the force – we all have the force, it’s just we don’t realize it. To me the Star Wars story is about reminding us the things that we neglect and forget. And the force is a kind of ability we always have. It’s just being a human being – you do have the force.”
- George Lucas not only came to set but also screened the film. Edwards says “he can die happy” because Lucas really liked the film. They even had a private conversation about it and Lucas’ review is the most important one he’s gotten.
- Kennedy affirmed the diversity is very important to the worlds of Star Wars and thinks it should be more important to the film industry in general. To her “Having a cast that represent and reflect the world today and having characters that people can relate to all over the world” is what makes the films mean something to people globally.
- Kennedy also hopes that continuing to have dynamic female leads in the Star Wars films will lead to evening the field down the line as the stories evolve. “The character of Rey, the character of Jyn, I think these are empowered women that are not necessarily just taking on male characteristics, they’re genuinely female heroines. And I think that’s really important to the way we tell stories.” While they’re a few in contrast to the amount of male leads in the SWU, this is a promise to continue to cultivate more opportunities.
- Geek icon Alan Tudyk shared his excitement over having his own toy in droid form. On his own K-2SO, “I have it sitting on my couch, just kind of chillin’, chillin’ at home. K-2 is just there. It’s neat. And they don’t just make one action figure of you, there’s like five”
- Edwards compared ‘Rogue One’ to ‘Empire Strikes Back’ in spirit, “ I feel like in terms of Star Wars that I love, tonally,we’re aiming for was something like Empire Strikes Back. Even though we take it quite seriously there’s a lot of fun and humor in it, and hope. The key thing is that it’s about trying to achieve something. The story really, behind the movie, is like all these different people from all these different backgrounds–that have very little in common, if they believe in a good future for the world, they could come together. And we all are better off when we work together than on our own. So we just tried to make the most realistic version of Star Wars that we’d seen.”
- Kathleen Kennedy is proud to sheperd the SWU from male-centric tent pole films to more inclusive. While she agreed that they’d been lacking in female heroes, that she likes to see them as part of the ensemble as relatable heroes while also helping cinema develop the concept of women as heroes.
- Most of the crew of Rogue One didn’t set out to be heroes, all of them found their place on the side of the rebellion for reasons that weren’t always heroic. Diego Luna likened their team to everyday heroes who are more real, “They are the heroes we can be, just regular people doing amazing stuff you know, and no special powers, no Jedi’s–it’s just conviction and teamwork and yeah, that hope of actually being able to shape the reality we live in, and that makes them great.”
- While K-2SO is a CG character Alan Tudyk was there in person in a mo-cap suit while filming. He was on stilts to be the height of the reprogrammed Imperial droid. Diego Luna revealed that his eyeline ended up coming up to an interesting part of Tudyk’s body.
- While Felicity Jones was new to being a warrior, she tapped into Jyn’s fight through her hate of the Empire. She developed it through months of physical preparation and understanding of her character’s experience with Stormtroopers.
- Introducing characters from the animated world isn’t a part of the plan but just happened to come up in the case of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whittaker), who was introduced in the Clone Wars TV series but ended up serving as a core character to the Rogue One narrative. They may show up but they’re not part of the strategy.
- Despite both Gareth Edwards and Colin Trevorrow only having had ONE indie film prior to being qualified to helm films like Godzilla and Jurassic World (which led to their Star Wars deals), Kennedy and co. are beginning to make the steps toward offering female directors the same opportunities. She shared, “If somebody actually moves through the process of making movies and wants to make a Star Wars movie and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.” And though she could not name any off the top of her head, hopefully because they don’t want to give away who they’ve approached, we remain cautiously optimistic.
- Ben Mendelsohn was very starstruck at the idea of working with Darth Vader. Said it took him a few shots to deliver solid lines next to the towering iconic villain.
- While Mads Mikkelsen plays a the character who designed the Death Star, he never played him as a villain even though the Rebellion saw him as one. As a man trapped on the side of evil, he described how he put himself in the mindset as “He’s working together with this gentleman on something that he believes from the very beginning as a project that has the ability to change the world into a better place. And it so happens that it turns out that he’s working on something (bad) that he didn’t know, and for that reason he’s in a gigantic dilemma.” A dilemma that he had to get very crafty in order to help his daughter and the Rebellion.
- Michael Giacchino who took the reigns on the score for the film was the prefect choice. Edwards said that people like to compete on who’s the bigger Star Wars Fan but said that he KNEW they’d find the right man when he walked into Giacchino’s home and saw a 13ft framed New Hope Poster in the living room. “He said he listened to Empire Strikes Back soundtrack to death as a kid. And it’s just I think the vocabulary of that music is in him and it just poured out, and this stuff, I mean, you know, there’s particular moments in the film musically, especially towards the end, that is truly stunning, and very emotional and I think he just knocked it out of the park and we are very lucky.”
- While the studio officially states that Rogue One isn’t meant to be political, it does carry the tradition of the Star Wars films reflecting the complicated nature of the world we live in. Kennedy shared, “I think it’s one of the things that’s made Star Wars strong is that those simple ideas have had good and evil very clearly drawn, and this movie is a bit more sophisticated and complicated and does reflect I think a more complicated worldview today. So yes, to some extent, this story might illuminate some of those things in a way that may start a discussion, which is great.”
- Anytime a scene was shot with Darth Vader, Edwards revealed that those were the days EVERYONE showed up on set to be in awe of having the privilege to be working on a Star Wars picture.