Ahead of July’s Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, Entertainment Weekly has revealed Rogue One, the first of the standalone films which centers around the group of rebels who steal the Death Star plans, to be the focus of their latest cover story. Even though we can expect a new trailer and more info on Rogue One at Celebration Europe, this EW content is a great way to create buzz and awareness for causals not breathing in Star Wars content everyday of their lives. EW has promised to unveil more background on Jyn Erso and her father (to be played by Mads Mikkelsen), identities for the rest of the team, new photos, an inside look at the courtly Imperial intrigue, Vader’s presence in the film, and the inside scoop on the reshoots. I’ll be updating the article below as the news trickles in from EW.com.
It all started with the reveal of the issue’s cover with Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) standing front and center, Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) chilling in the background, our first good look at Alan Tudyk’s droid character, another look at the AT-ACT, and lastly the reveal of the new TIE Strikers.
Shortly after, the rest of the main cast had their character names announced, along with a few details regarding each character, helping flesh out the cast of (largely) unknowns.
- While we already knew Jyn Erso, we now know it’s her history of misdeeds (mentioned in the first trailer) and knowledge of less savory parts of the galaxy that makes her a valuable asset to the Rebellion for this mission. But for her to agree to help, there has to be something in it for her, as Kathleen Kennedy (head of Lucasfilm and producer on RO) mentions, “She has been detained [by the Rebellion] and is being given an opportunity to be useful. And by being useful, it may commute her sentence… She’s a real survivor. She becomes a kind of Joan of Arc in the story.” But she’s not the only Erso we’ll meet in the film, as her father, Galen Erso, will appear (Mads Mikkelsen), as scientist with skills both the Rebellion and Empire want. It’s interesting to note they aren’t revealing his image yet, so one naturally has to wonder why. On Galen, Kiri Hart (Lucasfilm’s chief of story development, who was at Celebration Anaheim’s 2015 Rogue One panel) had this to say, “He’s one of those people that has insight into you know specific aspects of just how the universe works.” Though why Jyn’s father is still around but she’s been on her own since 15 will be something likely not revealed until later or in the film for the first time.
- Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) will be around to keep Jyn’s more turbulent nature in check, though his years of fighting will both be an asset to their mission and allow him to relate to Jyn a bit, as Hart says, “He conveys a fair amount of experience and the reality of what it’s like to do this every day, to try to figure out how to resist the Empire effectively and intelligently.”
- Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) is a blind, warrior monk who still believes in the Force and what the Jedi stood for, even if he himself isn’t a Jedi nor can he access the Force. The idea that one doesn’t have to be a Jedi to believe in what they stand for isn’t anything new per se, as Star Wars Rebels introduced how the Lasat’s call the Force ‘Ashla’ and interact with it differently and in The Force Awakens the character of Lor San Tekka (who Poe Dameron is currently trying to track down in his comic series) was a member of the Church of the Force, which revered the artifacts and ways of those who use the Force. Could Chirrut be a member of said Church, helping to sow the seeds of the group throughout the saga’s history? Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) is Chirrut’s friend and protector, and even though he doesn’t quite understand his buddy’s love for the Force, he’ll fiercely protect him. That should be a fun dynamic to see in the film!
- Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is the pilot of the group and someone everyone seems to trust at least for his technical know-how.
- K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) not only looks intimidating, but he has a personality befitting a security droid, which director Gareth Edwards says Kaytoo has, “…Chewbacca’s personality in a droid’s body. He doesn’t give a s— about what you think. He doesn’t fully check himself before he says things and does things. He just speaks the truth.” With grumpy Chopper and the more talkative part of the murderbot pair, Triple-Zero, already showing how entertaining a slightly jerk-ish droid can be, I’m looking forward to Kaytoo on that alone. But I’m also interested to learn what he’s attempting to be redeemed for, as EW teased.
- Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the white-caped Imperial we saw in the first trailer. He’s the leader of the Deathtrooper squadron, which he hopes to use to take down the Rebels and thus gain the Emperor’s graces, though he’s trying to do so without pissing off/getting in the way of Darth Vader.
While new characters are exactly what I was looking forward to having in this first of the A Star Wars Story films (outside of the obviously potential and now confirmed Vader appearance), the big surprise that a character from The Clone Wars animated series would make the live-action jump is just as good, if not better! Forest Whitaker plays Saw Gerrera, last seen in the “Onderon Arc” in TCW‘s fifth season. He and his sister Steela, a more nuanced and natural leader, were trained by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano to wage guerrilla warfare to win back the planet of Onderon from the Sepratists. Not only did things not go well for his sister, after freeing Onderon from the Separatists, he soon found himself fighting the Republic he fought for, alongside his sister, after it turned to the Empire, a fight which he’s waging ever since, though in a more morally ambiguous way (hinted at by his lines in the first trailer) then other parts of the Rebellion have done. Pablo Hildalgo, story group member, took both to the latest episode of the Star Wars Show and Twitter (via ClubJade) to discuss Saw Gerrera’s history both in and out of universe plus his importance to the Rebellion movement. On Twitter, he describes Saw as someone who Mon Mothma and Bail Organa aren’t too fond of, as he’s, “…the uncle mom and dad don’t talk about. Something bad went down. He’s ‘disowned’ to some degree.” On the SW Show, he revealed Saw was originally intended for the live-action show George Lucas had in mind that never got made, but Lucas found a way to include him in a story he wanted to tell thanks to TCW. In the EW article about his reveal, Kennedy says, “Consider him kind of 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.” Personally, I’m really excited by the idea of finally seeing characters crossover and have such big importance no matter the medium, while I certainly hope this is just the start of a trend. However, I do hope people who haven’t seen TCW or never will, but will see Rogue One, can still appreciate his character…which shouldn’t be hard since it’s Forest Whitaker playing him! Here’s a few other small tidbits on the Saw Gerrera reveal:
- I really like that the article goes out of its way to mention their are visual differences between the animated Saw and live-action Saw, but they are still the same character. Obviously, they’ll never directly match but I’m sure someone would’ve made a big deal of the differences in his scar over his left eye.
- Outside of the character’s appearance in TCW, he’s been mentioned in some more recently released material: First off, in the Star Wars Rebels Season 2 episode, “The Honorable Ones,” where Kallus tells Zeb of a harrowing run-in with a brutal rebel element led by Saw Gerrera (which at the time in my review I simply thought it was really neat to hear he was still fighting); And he’s mentioned again in Bloodline, the novel by Claudia Gray that focuses on Leia six years before the events of The Force Awakens, though I didn’t say anything about him in that review (but I have a part in my notes thinking it was neat again to hear about him). Little did I and many others know, this was just a sign of bigger things to come for him.
- The ladies at Fangirls Going Rogue will be doing a live-tweet rewatch of TCW “Onderon Arc,” which seeing as I’m already planning on rewatching the episodes, this sounds like a fun way of doing so!
- Star Wars Underworld shares this excellent image of Saw’s lines in the RO trailer matching up with some of the moments from his past as seen in the show.
- Andrew Kishino, who voiced Saw in TCW, is understandably excited about Forest Whitaker taking up the mantle of his character.
- Gary Whitta, who wrote a draft of RO, is happy he can finally talk about Saw being in the film.
- And Dave Filoni, who was showrunner on TCW, can’t help but joke about knowing this reveal was coming. He also explained, in an interview at Comicbook.com, how happy he is about this happening since he sees it as, “…fulfilling a promise to the fans, that this is one story, and the characters you know and love are throughout it, and influencing the story in many ways.”
- Over at the official site, Amy Ratcliffe has summed up 10 important things to know about Saw.
It’s not terribly surprising Darth Vader will be gracing the big screen in RO, but the latest EW update gives us a better idea of how much Vader to expect and what the Dark Lord’s (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) presence means for Director Krennic’s schemes. Kennedy says the famous villain will be used “…sparingly,” but for dramatic effect when he shows up. In a way, that makes me think of Gareth Edwards previous film (and the series as a whole) Godzilla, where they have the monster in it sparingly but when it does show up, you know some bad stuff is about to go down, which sounds like a really good way to use such a frightening menace like Vader. As mentioned above about Krennic, he’s essentially trying to replace Vader in the eyes of the Emperor, and since he’s less regal and icy than previous Imperial officers we’ve seen i.e. Tarkin, his unpredictable nature and willingness to game the system will make him a formidable foe to Vader and rebels alike (per the caption in the photo gallery I’ll talk more about in a bit).
If there’s one thing the canon reset has done differently and way more interestingly is keep Vader, and likewise the Emperor’s Sith-ly origins, a secret very few actually know. He’s largely an unknown quantity, even inside the Empire, which makes him seem like some sort of bogeyman no one wants to cross paths with, which essentially keeps his frightening and villainous legacy intact better than before. In the Dark Lord’s comic series, Darth Vader, we’ve watched him go from the enforcer role he’ll be in during Rogue One / A New Hope to a man with a mission to usurp his boss with his son at the side, and the character study nature of the material has made it one of the best of new comics so far (and if him being in this film sounds exciting to you, then you owe it to yourself to read the comic!). And his legacy of terror stayed intact even with the Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano (his apprentice during the Clone Wars) duel looming in the second season of Star Wars Rebels, where one had to wonder if it would actually do anything to change the cold heart of Vader. It’s clear after the episode with their duel aired, it won’t be until Luke’s love that something finally cracks the dark side swirling in Anakin Skywalker’s soul. So the Vader we’ll get in Rogue One will be cold, calculating, and a giant wrecking ball of anger and destruction; Sounds good to me.
UPDATE 6/28: EW has released some of the pics in large-scale, hi-res detail, great for computer backgrounds!
EW also released a gallery of 16 new images from the film (though a few at the end are just color versions of the pics from the character name reveal gallery), including some intriguing looks at the tropical planet most of the action of the film takes place on. The image that headlines this article was my favorite of the set, thanks to it’s spooky nature with the gray sky and weirdness of seeing stormtroopers in water. The gallery comes with some captions for each photo, explaining that Jyn is undercover wearing the Imperial uniform, instead of possibly switching sides as many reactions to the first trailer’s final shot seemed to wonder, while the image of the Deathtrooper holding a stormtrooper doll is no joke and, “…will have a special significance in the story.”
Last, but certainly not least, the reshoot rumors and worries were addressed by Gareth Edwards and Kathleen Kennedy. Edwards goes over how reshoots had been in the plan for RO since the start and is a normal part of any major movie production these days, while he assures that it’s not any significant portion of the film that’s being reshot, instead he says, “There’s lots of little things that we have to get, but it’s all little things within the preexisting footage.” Kennedy doubles down that the tone of the film hasn’t changed since John Knoll, supervisor of visual effects at ILM and producer on RO, pitched the film. She says, “…each of these movies will very intentionally have a very different tone and style from the saga films.”
The final article also features the closest thing we’ve gotten to an official confirmation that Alexandre Desplat (Zero Dark Thirty, Godzilla) is composing for the film, while Kennedy reveals they still aren’t sure if the film will start with the familiar text crawl or not. A Star Wars movie not scored by John Williams and without an opening crawl? If they’d go such a route, I’d be interested in them stealing from James Bond and fitting an opening credit sequence early in the film set to a new song using cues from the compositional track for the film.
Day Three (final day)
While Vader will be used sparingly, Mon Mothma will have an important role in the film, which from the trailer alone she’s practically eclipsed her screentime in Return of the Jedi. The Legends novels gave Mothma her due in the post-RotJ stories and even though canon hasn’t dived too heavily into that same time period, Aftermath and Bloodline have teased she’ll stay just as important to the narrative as she was before. And as for her role in RO, she’ll prove why she’s so pivotal to the Rebellion’s success by, as Kennedy puts it,
“The Rebel alliance is in disarray. Pretty panicked. Up against it. And she is trying the best she can to provide the leadership, in amongst a wide variety of Rebel soldiers that have very differing opinions as to what to do.”
As I mentioned in the trailer reveal article, Genevieve O’Reilly returns to the role after her scenes for Revenge of the Sith were cut and it’s awesome to know groups of fans can grow up excited to see Mon Mothma in RotJ instead of wondering, “Who’s that lady?”
Lastly, there are 6 new photos that didn’t make it into EW’s print edition of their Rogue One coverage, which includes a Deathtrooper backed by fire, a curious shot of the blind Chirrut carrying a blaster on his back, Blaze Malbus taking a stand in front a downed X-wing, and a moment between Jyn and Cassian that’s already gotten ‘shippers on board for a relationship between the two.
That’s it for EW’s coverage and everything we’ve heard so far from their cover story has only ratcheted up my excitement for the film almost as much as the teaser did. And in a few short months, on December 16, we’ll find out if it lives up to the promises.
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Rogue One’s Second Trailer Showcases Cast, Sweeping Visuals, and Teases Vader (UPDATED)
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It’s a Wrap: Celebration Europe 2016 News Roundup – Han Solo Casting, Ep. VIII Teases, Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel Author Revealed, Battlefront DLC
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