Director Gareth Edwards and Rogue One editors talk about changes, reshoots, and restructuring


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story underwent a number of changes from script to screen. There were extensive reshoots, the film was restructured, and certain shots and lines from early trailers never made it into the theatrical release of the movie.

We may not get the full story on what was changed for a while, but director Gareth Edwards and editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudie have started talking about various revisions and alternate takes.

First off, Edwards shared lots of Rogue One trivia, secrets, and info with Empire. Among these revelations, Rogue One originally had an opening crawl like the other Star Wars films.

The first screenplay that Gary Whitta wrote had a crawl in it--and you learn doing that that ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ has four dots in it, not three. You get extra marks for that. And then at some point, probably like six months before we were filming, we were in a meeting, and they talked about not having an opening crawl, because these are standalone films, not part of the sagas. And if I’m honest, there was an initial kind of like, “Whaaaa? I want the crawl!” The opening sequence is kind of the crawl of our movie. It’s like the setup. And our film is also born out of a crawl--the reason we exist is because of a previous crawl, so it feels like this infinite loop that will never end. It’s a small thing to give up to get to do Star Wars.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer (Official)

In addition, Edwards also talked about the trailer shot of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) walking toward the TIE fighter that wasn’t in the final movie.

There was a bit of a process to refining the third act in terms of the specific shots and moments, and so certain things just fell away. But then what happens is marketing love those shots, and go, “Oh, we’ve got to use that.” And you say, “Well, it’s not in the movie”. And they say, “It’s okay, it’s what marketing does, we just use the best of whatever you’ve done”. And so there’s lots of little things, but towards the end you go, “I know that’s not in the film, but the spirit of it’s in the film”.

As an interesting aside, Edwards also revealed an unlikely inspiration for a Darth Vader scene in Rogue One.

I’m jealous of moments like in Empire Strikes Back where you see the back of [Vader’s] head and you just go, “Oh my God, that is so cool,” and wanted to try and find something like that in our film. [The bacta tank scene] was actually a Chris Cunningham-inspired thing of the idea of being in milk [like in the Bjork music video] “All Is Full Of Love”. He’s really a burns victim, and it’s not going to be fun for him when he’s not in the suit--he’s going to be uncomfortable. I love the idea of showing that he’s vulnerable as well.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story "Introducing Jyn Erso" Featurette

Moving on to editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudie, they were much meatier with what they revealed to Yahoo Movies. Gilroy noted that the reshoots gave audiences the film they see today. They noted that in the beginning of Rogue One, Jyn’s introduction and other character introductions were additions or alterations to add dynamism and excitement.

John Gilroy: The story was reconceptualized to some degree, there were scenes that were added at the beginning and fleshed out. We wanted to make more of the other characters, like Cassian’s character [Cassian Andor, the Rebel spy played by Diego Luna], and Bodhi’s character [Bodhi Rook, the defected Imperial pilot played by Riz Ahmed].

The scene with Cassian’s introduction with the spy, Bodhi traipsing through Jedha on his way to see Saw, these are things that were added. Also Jyn [Jyn Erso, the reluctant leader of the film, played by Felicity Jones], how we set her up and her escape from the transporter, that was all done to set up the story better.

Colin Goudie: The point with the opening scenes that John was just describing was that the introductions in the opening scene, in the prologue, was always the same. Jyn’s just a little girl, so when you see her as an adult what you saw initially was her in a meeting. That’s not a nice introduction.

So having her in prison and then a prison break out, with Cassian on a mission… everybody was a bit more ballsy, or a bit more exciting, and a bit more interesting.

They got there eventually in the film, but this way we came in on the ground running, which was better.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Featurette

The action-packed finale of Rogue One was also heavily restructured and altered through reshoots.

John Gilroy: It changed quite a bit. The third act has a lot going on. You have like seven different action venues, the mechanics of the act changed quite a bit in terms of the characters, and I don’t want to go into too much detail about what had been there before, but it was different.

We moved some of the things that our heroes did, they were different in the original then they were as it was conceived.

Because you needed to figure that out, and everything else changes. Everything was connected to everything so doing something to one venue would change all the other venues, so really we had to… we were working on that until the last minute, because we working closely with ILM, they were giving us temporary shots and we’d put them in, we’d work them, we’d reconceive again.

It was really like a very tight puzzle and we had to keep honing that and honing that, and I’m very proud of what we did there.

So there you go, your first sense of what was different from the initial cut to the final cut. Did you notice any of the seams or was the finished film surprisingly seamless? Talk about it in the comments.

[via Empire, Yahoo Movies]
Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.