One of the many reasons fans were excited to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last year was the return of Darth Vader. The franchise’s most iconic villain had a small, but significant, role in the spinoff, including what many viewers consider to be one of the best action sequences in the entire series. During the movie’s closing moments, Vader boards a Rebellion ship and completely annihilates all the soldiers in his path in a last-ditch effort to retrieve the stolen Death Star plans. If this is to be the Sith Lord’s final time on the big screen, it was one terrific way to bow out.
Shortly after Rogue One‘s release, it was revealed that the big Vader moment was actually part of the extensive reshoots that took place last summer. It seems crazy to think about the film without this key scene, but it originally was not part of the plan. Now, director Gareth Edwards has explained how the sequence evolved into what viewers saw in the final product.
In an interview with Fandango, Edwards revealed that the initial idea was far less awe-inspiring than seeing Vader cut through hapless Alliance troops, crediting editor Jabez Olssen with coming up with the concept:
“He arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then Jabez was like, ‘I think we need to get Darth on that ship,’ and I thought, yeah, that’s a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there’s no way they’re going to let us do it. It’s a big number and we had, what, like three or four months before release. Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f**k it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two, we were at Pinewood shooting that scene.”
Several will undoubtedly be happy that this section was heavily altered during Rogue One‘s development, as it would have been highly disappointing if Vader did not get involved in the action at all. From the beginning, it was expected he wouldn’t be a main character in the proceedings, but if all that was shown was his interaction with Director Krennic and his late arrival to the space battle over Scarif, many would have wondered why Edwards bothered to bring Vader back. Witnessing a display of Vader’s Force powers via something shot like a horror film was a great treat for the fans and redeemed the villain following his infamous “No!” moment in Revenge of the Sith.
It is funny to consider that this was added in so late, but it goes to show that filmmaking is a very fluid process where inspiration can strike at any moment. In his commentary on the Force Awakens Blu-ray, J.J. Abrams admitted some memorable shots from the Rey/Kylo Ren lightsaber duel were the product of pickups, illustrating that viewers should not always expect the worst when word about reshoots becomes public. Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of the Star Wars team are committed to delivering the best stories possible for audiences, and they definitely have the resources to film whatever they want, whenever they need it.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits Blu-ray April 4, 2017.