After seven episodic installments to the Star Wars saga, Lucasfilm set out to do something entirely new with the first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One. Where Episodes I-VII all focus on the Skywalker bloodline from Anakin Skywalker through Ben Solo, the spin-off movies have the freedom to tell stories about a much wider spectrum of characters.
At first glance, Rogue One doesn’t appear to stray very far from classic Star Wars - it’s the Rebel Alliance’s struggle against the Galactic Empire, revolving specifically around the Death Star. That sounds like the majority of the Star Wars episodes. Stylistic differences aside, the real place Rogue One differentiates itself is in its spotlight on characters that would be considered minor characters or background characters in any other Star Wars movie.
Jyn Erso gets the majority of the focus this time around, featuring a few flashbacks to her life as a child and showing her involvement in the plan to steal the Death Star plans, but a lot of details about the character don’t actually appear on screen. If you liked her and want to know more about her, or if you thought she needed more development and want to know more about her backstory, here’s Everything You Need to Know About Jyn Erso.
15 Felicity Jones Has a Multi-Picture Deal
It’s been clear for a while that there’s not going to be a Rogue Two. The ending of Rogue One was already telegraphed at the start of A New Hope, and now that the movie’s here, we know none of the Rogue One team ever make it off of Scarif. Nonetheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Rogue One is the last time any of these characters will appear in the Star Wars universe.
It’s already been revealed that Forest Whittaker will be reviving his role as Saw Gerrera in the second half of season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, and it’s possible a similar story could be told about Jyn. After all, Felicity Jones has a sequel option in her contract.
Still, multi-picture deals are standard fare for most blockbusters, her contract was likely completed before the final script was, and any additional movies don’t necessarily have to be in the Star Wars universe, although her most interesting story has likely already been told with Rogue One.
14 Jyn Was Born in Prison During the Clone Wars
Jyn Erso was born at the height of the Clone Wars on the icy planet of Vallt. Her father, Galen Erso, had been using a facility on the planet to attempt to produce synthetic kyber crystals for Zerpen Industires with the cooperation of the local government. When Vallt eventually abandoned their Republic ties to side with the Separatists, Galen’s refusal to lend his talents toward the Confederate war effort landed him and his pregnant wife, Lyra, in a Vallt prison.
Despite their captivity, Vallt’s prison conditions were fairly comfortable, and Jyn’s birth was even celebrated by the people of Vallt, who considered all births a sacred event. The family was kept separate during captivity, so she only spent a few days of her first 6 months of life with her father, but Orsen Krennic eventually arranged for their release, at which point Galen, Lyra, and Jyn were finally a able to live together in their apartment on Coruscant.
13 She's the Daughter of Scientists
Jyn spent her early years in a very scientifically minded household. Her father, Galen, was one of the galaxy’s greatest polymaths. He devoted most of his life to researching and understanding kyber crystals, establishing himself as the number one expert on the gems that powered the Jedi lightsabers.
As a geologist, Lyra Erso also had an affinity for Kyber crystals, but she also had a strong faith in the Force and held great respect for the spiritual tradition of the crystals. She assisted Galen in his quest to harness the power of the crystals, but always cautioned him of the Jedi’s own reluctance to exploit the crystals themselves.
Galen and Lyra both tried to imbue Jyn with their scientific knowledge and spiritual beliefs in the few years they had together before Orsen Krennic separated them when Jyn was 8. If they had been able to remain in hiding to raise Jyn, one can only wonder what she may have grown up to become.
12 She Was Homeschooled by Lyra
Education is rarely a focus in the Star Wars universe. In A New Hope, luke yearns to attend “the academy,” we see some Jedi training throughout the movies, and the novel Lost Stars details Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell’s training at the Imperial Academy on Coruscant, which includes some formal education as well, but the Rogue One prequel novel, Catalyst, provides a unique look into the elementary schooling of Jyn Erso when Lyra and Galen decide to homeschool her.
Logic would seem to suggest that this might be a fairly common tradition in the Star Wars universe - it’s also likely that many characters simply aren’t formally schooled at all - but Jyn getting her early education from Galen and Lyra only makes sense considering her upbringing and genious parents. Her schooling is obviously interrupted when Lyra is killed and Galen is forced to join the Empire, at which point she receieves a very different education from Saw gerrera - but more on that later.
11 Given the Nickname "Stardust" By Galen Erso
Galen and Jyn were mostly separated for the first several months of Jyn’s life, but the two always shared a special bond, and Galen always called her affectionately by the name “Starust,” after comparing flecks in her eyes to star dust when she was a baby. The name would persist and it even has significant ties to Rogue One.
Not only does one of the songs on Michael Giacchino’s Rogue One score bear the name of Stardust, but it turns out that Galen Erso even named the Death Star project after the nickname he gave his daughter. Whether that naming was to help Jyn later identify the plans from other Tarkin Initiative projects such as “Black Saber,” “Stellar Sphere,” and “Pax Aurora,” or simply a nostalgic nod to his lost family isn’t clear, but it could be said that Galen’s affectionate nickname for his only child would eventually serve to bring down the Empire’s most terrible weapon.
10 She Fled The Empire With Her Family
After living in captivity on Vallt, the Erso’s early years living on Coruscant may have seemed like relative freedom, but it wasn’t quite as free as Orsen Krennic would have them believe. Suspicious of Lyra, Orsen was worried she would eventually convince Galen to abandon his work on kyber crystals for project Celestial Power - a project he was told was for the discovery of a means of using kyber crystals to produce cheap energy. Krennic monitored the family’s communications and travel the few times they even left the Celestial Power facility, until Lyra eventually convinced Galen of the Truth and the Erso’s disappeared.
The family spent the next few years farming on the remote planet Lah’mu, where the they continued their schooling of Jyn and had her prepared for her role in an eventual escape plan should they be discovered. When the Empire eventually tracks them down, Jyn knows exactly where to hide from Krennic’s Death Troopers until Saw Gerrera finds her.
9 Her Parents Were Pacifists - Her Childhood Toys Weren't
Galen and Lyra Erso were staunch pacifists who refused to get involved with the Clone Wars, or even participate in any research projects that contributed to the war. Galen even turned down research for shielding of capital ships because he saw protecting a warship as a contribution to the destruction of war, even if protected the life of one side.
Despite their aversion to violence, specifically the Clone Wars, Jyn grew up with many homemade war themed toys similar to what many other children across the galaxy may have played with, including a Jedi Starfighter, an ARC-170 Fighter, and a Jedi Cruiser. Some toys even reflected the current state of the Empire, such as a toy stormtrooper, a TIE fighter, and a Star Destroyer. These toys could have simply been made by Galen to help the family blend in as citizens of the Empire, but that didn’t stop Jyn from at least playing with the strormtrooper, affectionately calling it “Stormie.”
8 She Was Raised and Taught to Fight by Saw Gerrera
Saw Gerrera was first introduced as an Onderonian freedom fighter during season 5 of The Clone Wars where he received training from Anakin and Ahsoka in guerilla warfare so he could lead an uprising against the Separatist invasion of his hime planet, Onderon. After the Republic is consumed by the new Empire, Saw turns his attention to his new oppressor, leading the first wave of resistance against Sheev Palpatine.
He continues this quest after Jyn comes into his care, training the young girl in the same art of war passed down to him by the man that became Darth Vader and his apprentice. The presence of such a young girl in his care didn’t change Saw much, as his brutal tactics persisted to the point that other Rebel cells attempted to distance themselves from his reputation. Even so, he trained Jyn to be one of his best soldiers and fight on the front lines.
7 She Was Eventually Abandoned by Saw
Jyn fought under Saw Gerrera for over 8 years, learning the art of sabotage, assassination, use of explosives, handling of firearms, hand-to-hand combat, and a variety of other tactics of warfare and survival. Even as a child/early teen, Jyn was depended on for a variety of missions, even if the brutality was too extreme for young teen to witness, much less commit.
When Jyn was 16, Saw gave her a blaster and told her to wait for him in a bunker, but he never came back for her. Already fiercely independent, Jyn set out on her own, abandoning Saw’s “cause” and traveling the galaxy under a variety of aliases, such as Lianna Hallik.
With Saw set to appear in season 3 of Rebels, it’s possible this story will see some more explanation, although the timeline places it a few years before the events of Rebels, so any reference is likely to come from Saw instead of appearing on screen. Regardless, Lucasfilm had bigger plans for Saw than just what appeared on screen in Rogue One, so, like Felicity Jones, don't count Forest Whitaker out of future films.
6 She Wanted Nothing to Do With Galactic Politics
Like her parents, Jyn had a desire to stay out of galactic politics after separating from Saw Gerrera. Unlike her parents, it wasn't because she’s a pacifist. Jyn still got into plenty of trouble, she just didn’t care to hitch her wagon to any particular cause. Having seen the brutality of both Saw Gerrera and the Empire, she assumed neither side was desirable and just looked out for herself.
This disillusionment leads to her distrust seen at the start of the movie. From her perspective, her mother was killed by the Empire, her father apparently joined the Empire as a scientist, and her guardian, Saw Gerrera, was losing sight of the very humanity he was fighting for in his conquest against the Empire. It takes truly seeing the the hope at the heart of the Rebel Alliance in leaders like Mon Mothma to get her to care about a cause again.
5 She Was Captured After Attempting to Steal an Imperial Officer's Ship
Rogue One first introduces us to the young adult Jyn Erso when she's locked away prison cell at the Imperial Wobani Labor Camp. Upon her rescue by the Rebels, General Draven reads a lengthy list of crimes committed by her alias (just one of many), “Lianna Hallik,” but it doesn’t specify exactly which offense was the one to finally land her behind bars this time. Her past offenses included aggravated assault against Imperial military personnel, escape from custody, possession of unsanctioned weapons, forgery of Imperial documents, and resisting arrest.
The actual act that finally got her caught this time around was a failed attempt to steal an Imperial officer’s gun and vehicle. While the Empire was the target of this initiative, due more to circumstance than a desire to fight the Empire. If an Alliance member, or anyone else for that matter, had a gun and ship she thought she needed, they likely would have been the target instead.
4 Felicity Jones Was the Highest Paid Actor in the Movie
After featuring only one female lead in each of the first two Star Wars trilogies, Lucasfilm has marked a massive shift with both of its post-Disney movies. First was Daisy Ridley as Rey leading The Force Awakens, now Felicity Jones is at the forefront of Rogue One as Jyn Erso. While some fans have noted that there’s still a conspicuous gender gap in supporting roles and extras, it’s undeniable that women have far more representation in the new era of Star Wars - and that’s not exclusive to the movies.
Rogue One is also a part of a trend toward greater pay for female roles. Differences in pay between males and females in Hollywood has been a hot button issue recently, and there’s plenty of examples of women making less than men. Rogue One is not one of those films, though, with Felicity Jones getting the biggest paycheck for the first Star Wars spin-off. Jennifer Lawrence also recently saw a paycheck for Passengers that surpassed Chris Pratt’s (despite a smaller role), and Scarlett Johansson was just named the top box office draw of 2016, so the status quo is on the move, and Star Wars is a part of that motion.
3 Felicity Jones Modeled Jyn Off Several Inspirations
Actors look for inspiration in a variety of places. In her preparation for Rogue One, Felicity Jones drew inspiration for Jyn from both within the Star Wars universe and outside of it. Her first inspiration came from the heft Carrie Fisher brought to the role of Leia in A New Hope in 1977, and that no-nonsense take charge attitude can clearly be seen in Jyn.
Outside of Star Wars, Jones sought a unique inspiration for the physicality of Jyn, eventually settling on Florence Welch from the band Florence + the Machine, because Jyn’s walk is “almost a bit like a caged animal. Her fight sequences become like dances." Jyn has an undeniable swagger that can likely be traced back to her Florence inspiration.
Embracing the female action hero, Felicity Jones also looked to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise, who's one of the first in a long tradition of badass leading ladies. While Jyn is a very different character from Ripley, her dogged determination right down to the end definitely demonstrates that same level of grit that made Weaver an icon.
2 Felicity Jones Trained by Doing Kung-Fu
An actor’s preparation for their role can often be an interesting story, whether it’s Jared Leto’s crazy method acting antics in preparation for the Joker for Suicide Squad, or Keanu Reeves practicing “gun fu” for John Wick, actors regularly put themselves through an intense training or workout regimen to get in shape - even if the role doesn’t necessarily have strong physical requirements.
With Felicity Jones playing Jyn Erso, a character who arguably has more combat training and experience than many other non-Jedi Star Wars characters, those skills need to stand out on screen. To prepare, Jones spent time doing kung fu training near every day. While Jyn didn’t have any scenes that utilize martial arts to the same extent as Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, but brief glimpses of her hand-to-hand combat in the movie definitely demonstratesthe fruit of her labor, showing Jyn doesn’t need a blaster to take on a group of stormtroopers.
1 Jyn Erso's Significance Rivals Luke Skywalker's
Before Rogue One, the larger Star Wars story was dominated by the Skywalker family and the way their actions helped shape the galaxy. Without diminishing their significance, the first Star Wars spin-off has added incredible nuance to these already established events by revealing Jyn Erso as another character instrumental in the fight against the Empire.
On the surface, Jyn’s influence is obvious: she’s the one that sends the Death Star plans to Leia, enabling Luke to eventually take the game winning shot down the thermal exhaust port to win the day for the Rebel Alliance. Jyn’s importance extends beyond the Death Star, though. If things had happened differently, Obi-Wan may have lived and still trained Luke (and maybe Leia), eventually finding a way to destroy the Death Star, but there would have been no Rebel Alliance to stand against the Empire. The Alliance had all but dissolved upon learning of the Death Star’s existence. It was the sacrificial assault on Scarif by Jyn and the Rogue One crew that served as a catalyst to truly bring the Rebels together into a unified force that would eventually overthrow the Empire.
What’s your favorite part about Jyn? Did we miss anything here? Let us know what you think in the comments!