Even if you haven’t seen “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” by this point, you probably already know that the story does not end so well for the band of Rebels who capture the Death Star plans in the film’s final act. However, it now seems this was not always the case.
Speaking to to Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Gary Whitta insisted that “The original instinct was that [the lead Rebels] should all die,” but it seems that he and his fellow writer John Knoll were initially uncertain how far Disney would be willing to back such a bleak vision and and so their early script drafts were slightly more optimistic in their approach to the story’s final act.
In these early drafts, many of the characters that appeared in the final film, including Bodhi, Chîrrut and Base, were not yet part of the action, and Jyn Erso herself was envisioned as a Rebel sergeant rather than merely a rebellious woman in Imperial custody — but both she and an early version of Cassian Andor did survive.
As Whitta put it, in the early scripts, “A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” adding, “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”
Jyn and Cassian’s ship would then have been destroyed by Imperial forces with Darth Vader in attendance, but the Rebel duo survived their ship’s destruction. “They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
But none of the writers were particularly happy with this version of the story, it was never filmed, but it prompting them to beg the powers that be at Lucasfilm and Disney to let them write the darker ending that eventually made it into the finished film.
Set just prior to the events of 1977’s “Star Wars,” “Rogue One” follows a ragtag group of Rebels who undertake the dangerous mission to steal the design plans for the Galactic Empire’s planet-destroying new superweapon, the Death Star.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” releases digitally on March 24, while the Blu-ray and DVD combo pack will be available April 4.