13. There’s a Lot We Know About “Rogue One”…
To quote Rebel fighter pilot Garven Dreis during the first Death Star trench run, “Almost there…!” We’re now under two months away from the release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and while the film is firmly set in a time period we’ve seen before (the days preceding 1977’s “Star Wars”), the film will be unlike any of the previous seven films in the franchise. That’s because it will not focus on the legendary Skywalker lineage.
But this is still a Star Wars movie, filled with fresh faces and a few familiar ones as well. And as the second film released by Disney, “Rogue One” is doing a lot to expand on the rapidly growing Star Wars mythology. While the studio definitely keeps things close to its vest when it comes to Star Wars, there’s still a lot that we do know about the film. Here’s everything we know (so far) about “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
12. Years In The Making
Back when Disney announced their acquisition of Star Wars way back in October 2012, there was no mention of anthology films. All that was known at that point was that the first new Star Wars film, Episode VII, would arrive in 2015 with new films arriving every 2-3 years (Disney wouldn’t make the “new Star Wars film every year” announcement until April 2013). Rumors of anthology films first popped up a month later in November 2012 — although details were scarce about what these spinoffs would focus on.
Disney didn’t confirm these rumors until February 2013, and at the time it was reported that the first anthology films would focus on Han Solo and Boba Fett. Director Gareth Edwards became attached to a mystery spinoff project in May 2014. It would take almost two years for Disney to finally reveal what would become “Rogue One’s” plot.
11. The Death Star Plans Are Pivotal
The original tease of “Rogue One’s” plot arrived as a rumor in November 2014, one that said that the film would “be set just prior to the events of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope’ and center on group of bounty hunters attempting to steal the plans for the first Death Star.” While the bounty hunter aspect of that rumor didn’t pan out, the rest definitely did. The film’s official title was announced in March 2015.
Lucasfilm revealed the film’s official synopsis in August 2016, reading:
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Of course we also know even more about events hinted at in the synopsis, which we’ll continue to break down.
10. A New Expanded Universe
If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan with encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise, then you know that the ground covered in “Rogue One” has already been covered in previous novels, role-playing games and more. But things changed when Disney purchased Star Wars; instead of adhering to the thousands of tie-in stories that’d been published over the previous thirty years, the new Disney movies would create a new canon. So forget what you previously knew about the Rebels’ acquisition of the Death Star’s plans, because “Rogue One” is telling the new canon’s official take on those events.
But a new Expanded Universe has taken the place of the old one, encompassing new novels as well as comics published by Marvel. While a “Rogue One” lead-up comic series originally announced by Marvel in March 2016 has been canceled, the film will have a tie-in novel. The prequel novel, titled “Catalyst,” will be written by James Luceno and focus on the relationship between “Rogue One” villain Director Orson Krennic and Jyn Erso’s father Galen.
9. “Rogue One” Will Have A Whole New Look
As the first standalone Star Wars film, there’s no real precedent for “Rogue One” to follow when it comes to how it looks. There are traditions when it comes to the main trilogies (like the use of wipes, consistently linear storytelling and the opening crawl) that “Rogue One” doesn’t have to adhere to. The opening crawl in particular is a tradition that “Rogue One” might just break.
“The [opening] crawl and some of those elements live so specifically within the ‘saga’ films that we are having a lot of discussion about what will define the [stand-alone] ‘Star Wars’ stories separate and apart from the saga films,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy back in June. “So we’re right in the middle of talking about that.”
That’s not the only stylistic difference, either. “He [director Gareth Edwards] does a lot of handheld, intimate, close-up work. That’s not something you’ve necessarily seen in a Star Wars movie before,” Kennedy said. “And we brought in [cinematographer] Greig Fraser, to shoot it, who had done ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ So a combination of Greig and Gareth…just gives it a really unique style.”
8. Welcome To Jedha
Every Star Wars film introduces a new planet or two to the larger mythos, and “Rogue One” will be no different. In fact, the anthology film will introduce a planet that could quite possibly be the most important planet in all of Star Wars: Jedha, the Mecca of the Jedi faith.
Director Gareth Edwards spoke about the Jedi holy land back in August, saying that the planet features Ottoman Empire-style architecture and Middle Eastern landscapes. “We were trying to find a physical location we could go to that would speak to the themes of losing your faith and the choice between letting the Empire win, or evil win, and good prevailing,” explained Edwards at the time. “If it’s a really ancient religion, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, it’s got to exist in thousands or millions of people in the galaxy.”
The Empire’s occupation of Jedha is reportedly what kicks off the events of the film, and you can see Star Destroyers and other Imperial ships looming over the planet in the film’s trailers. Jedha will be valuable to the Empire because it is rich in kyber crystals, which are used to build lightsabers — and, as it turns out, power the Death Star.
Jedha will also be the homeworld of three of the film’s cast: Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), as well as Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). And Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera is also holed up on Jedha, waiting to continue his insurgency.
7. Jyn Is An All-New Hero
Like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One” will also feature a female lead — this time played by Academy Award nominee Felicty Jones. The actress was first mentioned as testing for the role in January 2015 and she entered official talks a month later. She then became the first announced cast member in March 2015.
We do know a bit about Jyn, though, specifically that her father is Mads Mikkelsen’s Galen Erso — a scientist specializing in the laser tech used in the Death Star. Valene Kane will also reportedly appear as Jyn’s mother Lyra, presumably in flashback sequences glimpsed in the most recent story trailer.
As for her personality, Jones spoke about her character in August. “She is absolutely a very unlikely heroine,” said Jones. “She’s someone on the edges and fringes of society. Physically, she’s smaller than everyone else around her, but…when someone has something they believe in, that’s what powers them, that’s what motivates them, that’s what can give someone enormous strength.”
6. Krennic Is A Working Class Imperial
Ben Mendelsohn was the second actor rumored to be attached to the film, and those rumors panned out. Fans got their first glimpse of Mendelsohn’s Director Orson Krennic, confirming that he will indeed be playing an Imperial, in the film’s first trailer.
Further information was revealed this past summer, stating that this Imperial operative hopes to get on the Emperor’s good side by squashing the Rebels with his Deathtroopers. “There is a lot of palace intrigue going on in the Empire, with people conspiring to move up the ranks and sabotaging each other,” said John Knoll, who initially pitched the “Rogue One” story. “There’s not a lot of loyalty there.”
And don’t expect Orson Krennic to be similar to previous Imperial officers. Just this month, director Gareth Edwards said that Krennic won’t have the same presence as someone like Grand Moff Tarkin. “It feels like if the Empire ever have a job vacancy, they go to the Royal Shakespeare Company to headhunt people,” said Edwards. “I like the idea that Ben’s character was much more working-class,” and that he achieved his position, “through sheer force of personality and ideas.”
5. “Clone Wars” Connection
Tying the newly streamlined Star Wars Expanded Universe together is a character played by Forest Whitaker named Saw Gerrera. Whitaker was first rumored to be up for a role in the film in June 2015, and rumors about his mystery character that followed in January 2016 turned out to be true.
Whitaker’s character was identified as “Star Wars: Clone Wars” character Saw Gerrera in June, a guerilla fighter and veteran of the war against the Separatist’s droid army. In the announcement, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy called him a “battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists. He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
4. “Rogue One” Features An Ensemble Cast
The cast was confirmed in August 2015 when Disney dropped the first official photo from the film. Their names were revealed earlier this year in May, and more info about each of them followed in June.
As we’ve already discussed, Felicity Jones plays lead character Jyn Erso, a “streetwise delinquent” with information that the Rebel Alliance needs. Ben Mendelsohn is Director Orson Krennic, the man willing to sabotage other Imperials to climb the evil ladder. And Forest Whitaker is guerilla fighter Saw Gerrera. Additionally, Diego Luna plays experienced Rebel intelligence officer Captain Cassian Andor. Donnie Yen is the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe, who’s not a Jedi but is a devout practicer of their faith. By Chirrut’s side is Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen, who serves as Chirrut’s bodyguard even though he doesn’t believe in the Force. Riz Ahmed is Bodhi Rook, the Rebel squad’s abrasive lead pilot and an ex-Imperial himself. He’s not the only ex-Imperial, either; Alan Tudyk voices the droid K-2SO, a former Imperial security droid and the anti-C-3-PO.
3. Darth Vader Returns
As shown in a trailer from August, Darth Vader is back in action in “Rogue One.” Rumors of his involvement first emerged in July 2015, and persisted into early 2016 when original “Star Wars” sculptor Brian Muir revealed he was working on replicating his original Darth Vader helmet for the film.
Vader’s role in the film was officially confirmed in June, and James Earl Jones will once again voice the character. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the announcement that Vader won’t have a large role in the film, but “at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.”
2. Cameos Confirmed/Denied
Considering the time in which it’s set, it’s no surprise that the film will have at least two connections to the prequel trilogy. Jimmy Smits confirmed that he will reprise the role of Bail Organa (Leia’s adopted father) for a small cameo appearance. Additionally, Genevieve O’ Reilly will play Mon Mothma, a role she originated in a deleted scene from 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith.”
As for other characters from the original “Star Wars” trilogy, it’s unknown if they will appear. It was rumored back in August 2015 that “Rogue One” would use CGI to digitally recreate Peter Cushing so that Grand Moff Tarkin could play a part in the film. There’s been no official word from Lucasfilm about Tarkin’s potential involvement, though. A LEGO presentation made some wonder if Boba Fett might be in the film, but that rumor has fizzled out over the last nine months.
There are more characters you definitely won’t see in “Rogue One.” First, Alden Ehrenreich will not appear as young Han Solo, and Hayden Christensen won’t cameo as Anakin Skywalker. “Star Wars Rebels” character Agent Kallus isn’t in the film, either, and you’re only going to hear — not see — Alan Tudyk in the film.
1. Don’t Worry About The Reshoots
This past spring, the internet lit up with the news that “Rogue One” was undertaking reshoots. The report at the time stated that Disney execs were not happy with the first cut and demanded changes be made. One of those changes was, reportedly, the addition of some humor to the film.
But all of those rumors were cleared up, clarifying that the reshoots were always planned and had been moved back to later in the summer to give director Edwards more time to prep. The reshoots involved adding mostly scenes of people talking in cockpits.
“I mean it was always part of the plan to do reshoots,” said Edwards in June. “We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn’t know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit. There’s lots of little things that we have to get, but it’s all little things within the preexisting footage.”
“There’s nothing about the story that’s changing, with a few things that we’re picking up in additional photography,” added Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “I think that’s the most important thing, to reassure fans that it’s the movie we intended to make.”
Even more recently, Jones and Kennedy have calmed the reshoot worries. “I’m sure if you picked up the phone and called every single large, technical movie and said, ‘You ever gone in and done reshoots?’ they’d all say, ‘Oh God, yes,’ ” explained Kennedy in October. “So why has it turned into a big story? Because it’s Star Wars, and they put a spotlight and scrutinize every single thing that gets done. But it was always planned and nothing unusual.”
“Obviously when you come to the edit, you see the film come together and you think, ‘Actually, we could do this better, and this would make more sense if we did this,’” said Felicity Jones, who added that she’s done reshoots on films “so many times. I mean, you wouldn’t just give your first draft on this story, would you?”
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” arrives in American theaters on December 16th, and in the UK on December 15th.
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