While visiting Lucasfilm and Skywalker Ranch for the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story junket we had the opportunity to chat with director Gareth Edwards a few times casually and once on camera. It’s no secret that Edwards is a longtime devoted fan of Star Wars and he may know more about the nitty gritty details of the franchise lore than you and I combined. This shines through every time the director has the opportunity to speak about his film, and we saw this first hand (a lot) earlier this year at Star Wars Celebration Europe.
When we had the chance to speak on the record and on camera, we could have spoken for hours but in the few minutes we did have we touched on how the force factors into a story that involves no Jedi, how Rogue One brings something to the Star Wars universe we’ve yet to see, which character changed the most during development and reshoots, and what other Anthology spinoffs Edwards would like to see himself.
What does Rogue One – or your vision of the Star Wars universe – bring to the table that maybe other Star Wars haven’t yet, or perhaps even overlooked?
Gareth Edwards: From the outset we give its stamp as you explore the idea and story, things bubble to the surface. The word that got used the most probably was, “real.” Trying to make it feel authentic and natural. So we have a style to some of the camera work that’s a bit more embedded like a war photographer in a war situation. So there’s this is little bit of a documentary vibe about some of this, which really puts you on the frontline with the soldiers.
But then to me also style-wise, is that classical, epic, cinematic style of directing that I feel like if I went away from the film I wouldn’t have got a lot of that in there it wouldn’t feel my style in it. We tried to thread the two together – hopefully we got it right. We’ll see.
Rogue One isn’t about the Jedi, obviously, but the Force seems to be embedded in the story with Vader, Kyber crystals, the spiritual moon Jedha. Why is that and how important is the Force to this story?
Gareth Edwards: I think without the Force as a spiritual bedrock of Star Wars. We knew that we didn’t have specifically the Jedi in the movie because the timeline we’re in, but I wanted that belief and I wanted it to be talked about and brought up. One of the places we made sure the characters would go through was the Star Wars equivalent of Mecca or Jerusalem – Like a pilgrimage people go to who believe in the Force and when we get there, people are oppressed and the Empire’s taken over.
I feel like, at that particular point in the story people are losing their faith in the Force and have this feeling like, “No one is coming to help us. It’s all a load of nonsense and we’ve got to do something ourselves.”
You’ve been on this project for years now, it’s been a lengthy development. From those early pitches and that early script, which character or story element has evolved the most up to the final product?
Gareth Edwards: You mean, which has changed the most?
Gareth Edwards: Probably, if I look at the poster and go, “Which one is the most different than how we started?” – Probably Bodhi, Riz [Ahmed]’s character. We just knew we wanted a character that was in a war that wasn’t supposed to be there. What happens, you like to go to Star Wars and pretend you’re Han Solo or Luke Skywalker or Cassian or Jyn and the reality is… you’re not really. You’re more like Bodhi. So I wanted to put someone in there that reflected that. He started off like a Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now-type character and it just evolved because Riz is so fantastic. He just brought loads of ideas and things to the table and somebody was like, “OK, we should be reacting to this because this is really strong.” and it changed quite a bit for him, I think.
As a devout fan of the franchise, of the lore, are there any elements or maybe stuff in this universe that don’t fit this story but you’d love to be able to explore if there was another movie down the road sort of thing?
Gareth Edwards: Oh wow. Yeah, I mean, I love all the stuff from the original Star Wars films, and the trilogy, so anything that went in there I would be excited about. There’s loads of rumors online, and actually, weirdly, working in Lucasfilm, you don’t know. People ask you, “Is this happening? Are they going to do this? Are they going to do that?”…and I don’t know. You’re just kept in your own little bubble of your own little film, and then if you do something that’s going to affect another movie or something like the animated series or graphic novels, we’ll talk about it.
But I, as a fan looking on the internet, nothing to do with Lucasfilm, I kinda go, “Whoo, Obi-Wan Kenobi film, that’d be cool.”
For sure. I’m with ya there. Good luck. Cheers!
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.
Share your thoughts on the user of the Force in a movie with no Jedi in the comments! And what movie would you want to see from the Star Wars franchise if you could help Lucasfilm choose their next Anthology spinoff?