Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is rapidly approaching its world premiere with some fresh TV spots giving looks at the upcoming Star Wars anthology movie. Gradually revealing glimpses at Jyn Erso and the rest of the group of rebels who assemble to steal the Death Star plans, the movie has told plenty about its heroes. But not nearly as much has been revealed of the movie’s enigmatic villain, Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). The man in charge of Rogue One’s novelization, however, knows Krennic well by now.
James Luceno, author of Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, has plenty of experience translating Star Wars’ cinematic villains to novel form. He’s written 10 Star Wars novels, among various other works. He’s written extensively about Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Grand Moff Tarkin, and other iconic bad guys. Krennic is only the latest Imperial leader to be explored, as the new novelization tells the story of what leads up to Rogue One, and Luceno knows enough intimate details about the new villain to give an idea of what to expect with him in the movie.
In a new Q&A available on StarWars.com, Luceno was asked about his rich history of writing stories that focus heavily on villains and how Krennic compares to the rest. The novel is expected to shed plenty of light on the relationship between Krennic and Jyn’s father Galen Erso, which Luceno describes like “college buddies” who ended up on “different paths” in life.
Luceno described in great detail what makes Krennic such a dangerous villain in Rogue One:
“He’s a bad guy because he’s a liar and a manipulator. Krennic was really interesting to write because I’m not writing about a Sith or a fallen Jedi. He’s not as calculating as Tarkin and he’s doesn’t bring an alien sensibility to the game like Thrawn. Orson Krennic prides himself in being able to get his way through manipulation and whatever devilish things he can come up with. He also has the ability to stay on his feet even when punches are being hurled at him. He can change strategies in the middle of things. This, combined with his innate volatility, makes him a very different kind of villain than we’ve seen. What’s important to remember is that in the novel this is Krennic many years before we see him in the film. You have to take a little bit of a leap in terms of who we see on the screen versus who we get in the book. In his case, he gets even more brash and more volatile.”
Mendelsohn, a Melbourne native with over 30 years of total acting experience, has become more well-known worldwide in recent years for portraying flawed, untrustworthy characters like Danny Rayburn on Netflix’s Bloodline and John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises. His presence as a villain in Star Wars appears to be a good fit, based on his experience and distinctively nefarious persona.
Krennic as a character obviously has big shoes to fill in being the latest major villain in the Star Wars franchise. The return of Darth Vader alone won’t be enough to make Rogue One stand out on its own as a movie. It remains to be seen how memorable Krennic’s story — and Mendelsohn’s performance — will be within the confines of Rogue One’s narrative. But Mendelsohn certainly inspires confidence that his experience playing villains will pay off in his biggest role yet.