Despite not being a part of George Lucas’ original saga, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is arguably the most beloved Star Wars film released in recent memory. Released in 2016, Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground. Not only is the film a great standalone that stands on its own, it provided context for important events and characters fans are already familiar with, enhancing the viewing experience for the viewers.
Recently, IGN and CineFix hosted a virtual watch-along session, featuring Rogue One screenwriters Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz talking about many behind the scene secrets about the Star Wars spin-off. Their live commentary track offered new insight into the film, providing more information on the ways the film changed during production. Here are some of the most exciting reveals from the writers of Rogue One.
With Rogue One being the first ever anthology film in the space opera franchise, the writers realised that one of the ways to separate the film from the saga films is through its title. According to Whitta, one of his contributions was Shadow of the Death Star, while the title Dark Times was also considered.
Whitta went on to explain that he referred to the previous Star Wars films and realised that the titles of the saga films are either three or four words long. In an effort to differentiate the anthology films, the writers decided that the titles should be one or two words long (a trend that continued with Solo). Whitta added that, with the film’s shorter title, the audience would know that Rogue One is “something that doesn’t necessarily conform to the unwritten rules of the saga films”.
There Was an Opening Crawl
Whitta also revealed that he wrote an opening crawl for Rogue One, a Star Wars tradition that’s often associated with films. “You’ll never see it but I did. I wrote more than one. Back when we were still experimenting with the idea of maybe doing one,” said Whitta. The omission of the opening crawl is one of many creative ways the filmmakers behind Rogue One themselves from the traditional film language of Star Wars.
The Opening Scene Was Inspired by Inglorious Basterds
Apparently, the writers took inspiration for the film’s opening scene from a more unorthodox source — Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. “Gareth and I talked a lot about how much we loved the opening of Inglorious Basterds,” Whitta said. “Krennic is basically the Cristoph Waltz Nazi in this movie coming to interrogate the poor innocents who have to hide this girl.”
The opening sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is a masterfully directed scene that introduces us to Christoph Waltz’ Colonel Hans Landa, aka “The Jew Hunter”. The film received widespread acclaim and multiple awards and nominations, among them eight Academy Award nominations. For his role as Landa, Waltz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Admiral Ackbar Was Almost in the Film
The writers also revealed that the role of Raddus was initially written for everyone’s everyone favourite Mon Calamari, Admiral Ackbar. However, director Gareth Edwards opted to include more original characters for Rogue One, hence why the beloved admiral was replaced. First introduced in Return of the Jedi, Admiral Ackbar played a major role in leading the Rebel forces in the final assault on the Death Star II.
In a film crowded with fan-favourite characters such as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, it makes sense why Gareth Edwards would want to include more original characters. However, considering Ackbar’s insulting exit in The Last Jedi, we think fans would be pretty grateful if he had the chance to shine in Rogue One.
The Origin of Scarif
Whitta and Weitz revealed that director Gareth Edwards could only name one planet, and decided it would be Scarif. Whitta revealed the name “Scarif” was actually inspired by a Starbucks barista who misheard Edwards’ first name.
So if you’re reading this and you work in a Starbucks, you could well be the inspiration of a planet for the next Star Wars film.
Vader’s Epic Hallway Scene Was Very Different
Many fans would agree that the Darth Vader hallway scene in Rogue One is among the most memorable moments in all of Star Wars. According to Whitta, there are no deleted scenes featuring Darth Vader, however there were other ideas for how to include the iconic villain in the film.
“I originally pitched a version of that Vader scene in the hallway which was actually out on the beach on Scarif. Jyn and Cassian had gone up in the tower and the Rebels had kind of bunkered around it to prevent anyone from following them up. And the word got up to Vader on the Star Destroyer, ‘We can’t get up to the tower because the Rebels have blockaded it.’ And Vader says, ‘Put me on that beach. I’ll open the door for you.’ And he goes down there and just straight-up murders every Rebel on the beach.”
While it would’ve been cool to see Vader slaughter his way through Rebel Alliance troopers on Scarif, it wouldn’t have been in his character to do so. Why? Because Vader hates sand.
The writers also revealed that Princess Leia was originally planned to give the rousing speech in the scene where the Rebellion decided on what to do with the information they received regarding the Death Star. However, they eventually decided to have Jyn (Felicity Jones) deliver the pep talk, which featured one of the most memorable lines from the movie – “rebellions are built on hope”.
Ultimately, the writers made the right call as Jyn had a personal stake in the matter considering her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) sacrificed his own life to make sure that the Rebellion had a chance against the Galactic Empire. In addition, saving Leia’s cameo until the very end of the movie was a great way to bridge the gap between Rogue One and the original Star Wars film.