It’s hard to believe, but the Galactic Empire hasn’t been seen on the big screen since their defeat during the Battle of Endor in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” Sure some of the trappings of the Empire — stormtroopers, TIE fighters, scary masked space wizards — were seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but these are the tools of the First Order, the organization that rose from the ashes of the Empire. The significance of this hasn’t been lost on Gareth Edwards, director of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Upon seeing new “Rogue One” merchandise at the mall, at first Edwards wasn’t impressed. Then he remembered. “Hang on a minute, this is my film,” he told USA Today. “I’m never going to be in a position where it’s such already part of popular culture.”
As a Star Wars fan, Edwards takes his job of expanding the mythology very seriously. This can be readily seen in the development of the film’s mysterious antagonist, Director Orson Krennic. While establishing the character and working alongside actor Ben Mendelsohn, it was decided that he take on a different affect than Imperials such as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin (played by Peter Cushing in 1977’s “Star Wars”). Edwards says, “It feels like if the Empire ever have a job vacancy, they go to the Royal Shakespeare Company to headhunt people. 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.”
Edwards also described what it was like to work with Darth Vader — or, to be more specific, various tall men wearing Vader’s iconic armor. “[Ben Mendelsohn] went, ‘It’s Darth Vader. We filmed with Darth Vader,’” Edwards said, “And I was like,‘I know. It’s amazing, isn’t it?’ It was like no one wanted to admit that they’re having a little fanboy freak-out but everyone did. It’s impossible not to. He’s so iconic.” While a new person will be wearing Vader’s armor, the Sith Lord will again be voiced by James Earl Jones.
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 one December 16th, and if you are lucky and in the UK, on December 15th.
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