If you’re one of the few who didn’t see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last weekend, there will be plenty of SPOILERS below, so be sure to read at your own risk, or just drop everything now and go see it. After the world premiere, many fans called it the best Star Wars movie since the original, and the film has certainly lived up to the hype. Since this is in fact a stand alone movie, it is connected to the Star Wars universe, but it isn’t exactly required to keep any loose ends dangling to be addressed in a sequel. While many fans praised the ending, director Gareth Edwards revealed it almost turned out much differently.
Director Gareth Edwards appeared on the Empire Podcast yesterday, where he shed some new light on the ending. In a bold and surprising move, the film killed off every major character, although there have been hints that this wasn’t always the case. We reported last week that Felicity Jones‘ Jyn Erso is under contract to appear in a Rogue One sequel, although there is talk that this option may now be extended to a Luke Skywalker spin-off. Gareth Edwards revealed in this interview that an early version of the script didn’t feature the deaths of all these main characters. Here’s what he had to say below.
“I mean, it’s a great Disney tradition isn’t it? For every single character to die in all their movies. I think there was an early version – the very first version they didn’t [die] in the screenplay. And it was just assumed by us that we couldn’t do that and they’re not gonna let us do that. So we’re trying to figure out how this ends where that doesn’t happen. And then everyone read that, and there was just this feeling of like, ‘They gotta die right?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, can we?’ And we thought we weren’t gonna be allowed to, but Kathy Kennedy and everyone at Disney were like, ‘Yeah, makes sense.’ I guess they have to because they’re not in A New Hope. And so from that point on, we had the license and I kept waiting for someone to go, ‘You know what, can you just film an extra scene where we see Jyn and Cassian, they’re okay, and they’re on another planet and la la la…’ And [that] never ever came, and no one gave us that note so we got to do it.”
It was rumored that roughly 40% of the movie was altered during the reshoots, with writer Tony Gilroy coming aboard to re-work the script. Another report revealed that his role kept increasing on the production, and he ended up taking home upwards of $5 million, for helping supervise the edit with director Gareth Edwards. LucasFilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo maintained in an interview that the ending wasn’t changed during the reshoots, and we don’t have any specifics about how much was changed, or if any of the discarded footage will make it onto the Blu-ray and DVD release, sometime next year.
We did learn earlier today, though, that one of these deceased characters will return in an animated form. LucasFilm announced earlier today that Rogue One star Forest Whitaker will return to voice Saw Gerrera in a two-part episode of Star Wars Rebels, debuting Saturday, January 7 on Disney XD. Since Star Wars Rebels is set before the events of Rogue One, it may offer some additional insight into this important character, who received training from Jedi’s Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano, and served as an early harbinger of the Rebel Alliance, an assortment of disparate groups coming together to fight for a common cause. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story expected to continue dominating at the box office over the next few weeks, hopefully we’ll continue to learn more about this Star Wars tale.