Rogue One: Designing Vader's Mustafar Castle

Star Wars artist Doug Chiang discusses the challenge of designing Vader's Mustafar castle for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Darth Vader In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

As Disney's first Star Wars spinoff, it was only natural that Rogue One: A Star Wars story would introduce new corners of the universe for its original heroes to explore. But the film also significantly expanded the lore of at least one existing legend - Darth Vader. Though the Dark Lord of the Sith has very little screen time in the film, one noteworthy scene brings us to his previously unseen home on the volcanic planet of Mustafar.

We've already heard that Darth Vader's castle may return in future Star Wars films. This makes sense, considering Kylo Ren's obsession with his grandfather, but it also made it all the more important to get the design right.

Following the release of the latest film and it's companion book The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars talked to Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s Executive Creative Director, and Co-Production Designer on Rogue One. Chiang had a lot to say about the joys and challenges of designing around the aesthetic of the original Star Wars, but his thoughts on Vader's castle were particularly revealing.

"The initial idea was, 'Why would Vader live here?' In our minds, we started to come up with a little bit of a backstory. That perhaps this place had special meaning for him, and that this is where he comes to meditate and to heal himself. We started with the idea that maybe it should be built around his bacta tank chamber, and he comes back here to rejuvenate himself and also to meditate... We were trying to go for a very iconic shape, and we always love tall towers. Ralph McQuarrie actually drew quite a few small thumbnail sketches [of Vader’s castle] that were very intriguing. They were kind of angular versions of a tower, and I saw the potential of where he was going, and I just exaggerated that quite a bit.

"One of the things we landed on early was this idea of a tuning fork — a twin tower kind of look. And it was really interesting because then that started to give [director Gareth Edwards] a lot of ideas like, 'Well, maybe the structure is built this way because it is like a tuning fork. It’s tuning the dark side in terms of the energy.' And then we actually carried that even further to Jedha. The Jedha temple, the tower there, mirrors this but on the good side."

Star Wars Concept Art - Ralph McQuarrie Throne Room

According to Chiang, there may also be more to Vader's home than we've seen yet.

"There was a series of paintings and sketches that Ralph McQuarrie did, where Luke actually visits Vader in this underground lava cave. I always thought that was such a compelling image because you have this lava lake inside this cave and there was Vader’s throne. So we took that idea and thought, 'Okay, well, maybe on the lower levels of Vader’s castle, there’s a more ancient part...' If you look at the finished design, it has this very strong element of a structure that was there for a purpose, and that purpose was to draw energy from the lava lake... And so we thought, 'Okay, well, that’s the foundation. Maybe even deeper, or underneath that, is an even more ancient part, which is a natural cave where Vader goes to meditate.'"

While these design concepts may or may not ever be explored in a feature film, it's interesting to see the thought process that goes behind the creation of every location in the film.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on all things Star Wars as they hit.

Source: (via CBM)

Key Release Dates
  • Star Wars: Rogue One / Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) release date: Dec 16, 2016
  • Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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