From the early days of development on Lucasfilm’s first attempt at introducing an Anthology model of Star Wars spinoffs we knew that their story of brave Rebels putting everything no the line to steal plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star wouldn’t be a film about Jedi Knights. Director Gareth Edwards (our interview with him here!) made that clear early on that this mission “all comes down to a group that doesn’t have magical powers.”
Of course, the Force is ever-present in all things Star Wars as Edwards would tell you even if all the films going forward under the Disney umbrella avoid the term “Midi-chlorians.” So for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie that takes place in era when Jedi aren’t supposed to exist, their legacy remains.
Ex-Jedi Darth Vader has an important part to play in Rogue One, the latest Star Wars book “Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel” by James Luceno reveals how sacred Jedi Kyber crystals are at the center of powering the Death Star and of Galen Erso’s (Mads Mikkelsen) research, and of course, Rogue One hero Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) plays a blind warrior who seemingly fights with a natural connection to the Force.
During the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story press junket we inquired about The Force to Gareth Edwards and Donnie Yen to get their perspective on how The Force affects this story, especially since there’s a spiritual moon named Jedha in the film which seems built upon the beliefs of the ancient Jedi Order.
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.”
We later spoke to Donnie Yen who said he wasn’t allowed to talk about Chirrut’s backstory, but he did leave this hint:
“Well, what is the Force? It’s really all in how you interpret the Force. As a person who, in nature, he is not fully capable, he fumbles because of his blindness. If he was that skilled, obviously he’s got something special. So what is that?
The sequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is A New Hope and we know how crucial Force-sensitive heroes are to the movie that started it all. It not only had an aged master in Obi-Wan Kenobi – a character by the way who Gareth Edwards said to us he wants to see get his own movie – but it features young Luke and Leia who are still carrying the story of The Force forward in the third trilogy, many decades later in the timeline.
Share your thoughts on the idea of standalone Star Wars movies in the comments, and if they should stay clear of Jedi-focused stories! And stay tuned for more interviews and features on Rogue One every day this week and next!
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.