6 things we learned from 'Rogue One' panel
Ben Mendelsohn during the Rogue One Panel at the Star Wars Celebration 2016 at ExCel on July 15, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios)
LONDON – From oblivious Stormtroopers to snarky robots to a critical (but not really) George Lucas, there’s a whole lot going on behind the scenes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that we had no inkling about. Until now.
Creators of the first-ever standalone Star Wars film, chronicling the band of rebels tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star, let fans take a sneak peek at the movie’s inner workings Friday, in a packed-to-capacity panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe.
The massive Star Wars fan convention, going on through Sunday at London’s sprawling ExCel Centre, featured director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and a long roster of special guests, including the film’s entire primary cast. On stage in front of thousands of fans and on a livestream broadcast to millions more around the world, Edwards and company revealed a new Rogue One poster, a new behind-the-scenes featurette, and – exclusively for those in the audience – a new trailer for the Star Wars prequel, which hits theatres in December.
It was a densely packed hour of interviews and revelations, hosted by effusive Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Here are six things were learned about Rogue One.
Darth Vader is in the movie
True, this was actually confirmed by Lucasfilm a little while back. But in the final shot of the new trailer shown for the first time at Star Wars Celebration, the camera pans up from the floor to reveal the reflection of the Sith Lord, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of his breathing.
Edwards talked about the experience of doing voiceover sessions with original Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones in New York, including one “nerdgasm” moment: “He did this one line where he says the word ‘power,’ ” said Edwards, mimicking Jones’ bassy growl. “We were reduced to three-year-olds.”
Alan Tudyk is a snarky robot
Firefly star Tudyk, who provides the voice and performance-capture for the droid K-2SO, says his character is a former Imperial ’bot that’s had its memory and personality wiped by the Rebels, albeit not entirely successfully. “He’s not quite all there. He speaks his mind and says things that can be unsettling, and very honest,” said Tudyk. “If you know any old people, it’s like that.”
Jyn Erso isn’t trying to find herself
Rogue One star Felicity Jones, who plays resistance fighter Jyn Erso, says the main difference between Jyn and Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker and Rey is “she’s not a character asking, ‘Who am I and where have I come from?’ We know that about her. And that fact is that’s what propels the story and is the beginning of Jyn’s journey.”
Friends, fathers and fantastic contraptions all factor into Rogue One
Diego Luna, who plays Rebel officer Cassian Andor, revealed that the droid K-2SO “is probably the best friend Cassian has in the rebellion. Or possibly the only one.” (He then looked nervously at director Edwards and Lucasfilm boss Kennedy to see if he’d revealed too much, something several of the actors did throughout the panel.) Meanwhile, Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Jyn’s father Galen Erso, dropped an interesting tidbit about his scientist character: “He at one point invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, that it might have changed the universe,” said Mikkelsen. “That’s all I can say.”
Star Wars isn’t big in Maldives, apparently
One of the most captivating images from the new movie shows Stormtroopers striding through knee-high surf on a lush tropical world called Scarif. Edwards said the scenes were shot in Maldives, with members of the Maldivian army playing the Stormtroopers. After getting the amazing-looking sequence on film, Edwards asked the soldiers if they were excited about being in a Star Wars movie… and the men had no idea what he was talking about, or who these guys in white armour were supposed to be. “Do you know what any of this is?” asked Edwards. “No,” they said. “Do you feel really stupid?” “Yes.”
George Lucas has a very dry sense of humour
Given that Rogue One leads into the events of 1977’s original Star Wars, Lucasfilm invited original Star Wars creator George Lucas to set, giving Edwards only a few days’ advance notice. “I spent the whole weekend just crapping myself about this,” Edwards said.
As Edwards toured Lucas around and showed him several finished shots, Lucas was being sarcastically critical of the young director’s work, but Edwards didn’t immediately realize Lucas was joking. “He is the nicest guy, he’s got an amazing sense of humour,” said Edwards. “I challenge anyone to have a more surreal experience than showing a Star Wars film to George Lucas for the first time.”