“Yep. There are rumors,” Donald Glover says of the reports that he’s a front-runner for the role of Lando Calrissian in the young Han Solo movie. But hey, he does love the franchise:
I mean, I grew up on it. My dad was a big fan. I had all the toys when I was little. I had a Darth Vader with the lightsaber he has. It was cool. It’s a dynasty. It’s like the bible. I love that franchise.
Jedi News has what’s likely the production name for the Han Solo film – Carbonado Industries (UK) Ltd. The second name is a tad more mysterious – PLT Productions Ltd. – but it could be for Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX, the third spinoff or even another Lucasfilm production like Indiana Jones.
The first surprise at the Rogue One panel was Gwendoline Christie hosting. The second was the poster, and the third is the behind the scenes clip we see above.
John Knoll revealed that he first came up with the idea of a the story when he first heard rumblings of the live-action series, during the filming of Revenge of the Sith. He put it away when he learned more about George’s concept for the series, and pulled it out again when the spinoffs were announced. Check out the original concept art of the team.
Edwards also confirmed that the beach planet is named Scarif, and later cast revealed another planet, Jedha. Apparently people make Force-based pilgrimages there – Edwards compared it to Mecca. This appears to be the market planet, and where we meet Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen,) Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed.) Edwards had more to say on Jedha in a post-panel interview – it’s certainly an intriguing addition to the galaxy.
Exactly how much Darth Vader will there be in Rogue One? “He will be in the movie sparingly,” Kathleen Kennedy tells Entertainment Weekly. “But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.”
James Earl Jones is returning to voice one of his most iconic characters, with “a variety of large-framed performers” inside the suit.
But as iconic as he is to the audience, in-galaxy Vader is “still a background player.” To the Rebellion, he’s more of a legend than a fact:
“Within the Rebellion, it’s not commonly spoken about,” says director Gareth Edwards. “Within the Empire, there is the culture of knowing of the existence of Darth Vader. There’s definitely an underlying feeling that there is a power – a dark power – available to the Empire and that if you overstep your mark, you will suffer the consequences.”
The article also looks at where Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Orson Krennic fits in, and Vader’s first day on set.
And nope – no stills yet. Will Vader make his Rogue One debut at Celebration?
The publicity blitz for Rogue One begins with an Entertainment Weekly cover, introducing more of the story to mainstream movie fans, getting the word out that this is set before A New Hope, involves the Death Star, and all the other things your less-obsessive friends and family need to know. (Or, well, a few things you couldn’t tell them after the teaser trailer.) Here’s what we learned today:
Darth Vader is back
It feels like rumors about Darth Vader being in the film have been running rampant since day one, so it’s not at all a shock that EW comes straight out with it. (Also confirming that James Earl Jones is back to voice him, though multiple people will be donning the suit.) And hey, remember the mainstream? The mainstream LOVES Darth Vader. The marketing for Rogue One is absolutely going to use the guy, even if he just appears in 5 minutes of the film. It’s happening. Plus, it’s nice not to have to write around the utterly obvious any more. We also learned that Vader will only be used “sparingly.”
A Clone Wars character comes to the big screen
But the big surprise today wasn’t Vader, it’s the reveal of who exactly Forest Whitaker is playing. He’s Saw Gerrera, a character who was introduced on The Clone Wars but was originally created by George Lucas for the live-action series that never happened. Pablo Hidalgo talks a bit more about that on the latest Star Wars Show, and how Saw ended up in the movie. Dave Filoni talked to Comicbook.com about the character’s jump to the big screen.
Of course, there’s even more from Pablo on Twitter. The keyquotes, I think: “The idea, and we talked about this in Season 5, is that Saw was a key architect of the rebellion. But he’s definitely not Mothma or Organa,” and “Think of Saw as the uncle mom and dad don’t talk about. Something bad went down. He’s ‘disowned’ to some degree.”
StarWars.com also put up a feature on Saw: Ten things to know about the character, by our pal Amy Ratcliffe. Note that his hme planet, Onderon, originates in an early Legends source, the 1993 Tales of the Jedi comics.
New (to us) Imperials
Ben Mendelsohn is confirmed to be playing Director Orson Krennic. He’s trying to crush the Rebels while avoiding Vader’s wrath – and “palace intrigue” gets a mention, which is sure to please some.
He’s intended to be something of a contrast with the cold brand of Imperial epitomized by Grand Moff Tarkin, “Krennic runs a little hotter than that, so that’s kind of fun and it’s a little bit different,” Lucasfilm head of story development Kiri Hart tells EW. “He is unpredictable and volatile.”
The new black deathtroopers are “a new, deadlier breed of commando stormtrooper” who are “asked with hunting down and destroying the fragmented Rebel uprising.” There’s still a lot of questions about their purpose (and why we don’t see them again) but you can’t deny that they look pretty cool.
Welcome to the jungle
Rogue One introduces a new tropical paradise planet – as yet unnamed – that’s evokes the South Pacific and World War II. It was partially shot in the the Maldives.
Another location glimpsed in the new photos has tundra.
Meet the Ersos Lead Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has “a checkered past,” Kathleen Kennedy says. “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.” The decision to have a female lead was made by John Knoll before he knew about Rey.
The beans were already spilled by Mads Mikkelsen, but it’s confirmed that he’s playing Galen Erso, Jyn’s father. EW describes him as “the galactic version of nuclear pioneer J. Robert Oppenheimer,” and Lucasfilm isn’t sharing many details just yet. Interestingly, they’ve also not released a photo of Mikkelsen in costume.
The rest of the gang
We also get a few details on the rest of the principal cast. Some of these we saw partially in that book leak from few weeks back. The group’s diversity is intentional. “People are coming to the Rebellion because something has happened that has galvanized or politicized them,” says Hart. “The question just becomes: What are those triggers for different people in different places?”
Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe “very much still believes in everything the Jedi were about,” and that sounds very much like the tenets of the Church of the Force, the group led by Lor San Tekka that we saw briefly in The Force Awakens. Jiang Wen’s heavily armored Baze Malbus is a friend of Chirrut’s who’s supportive but not so much into all that Force business. The two are inspired by The Hidden Fortress, ala Threepio and Artoo, Kennedy says. Besides his staff, Chirrut also carries a brand-new weapon that could spark some debate until we see it in action.
Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook is the group’s lead pilot. “He flies a lot of cargo, one of his key jobs,” Kennedy says. “And he tends to be a little tense, a little volatile, but everybody in the group really relies on his technical skills.” Here’s another photo.
Alan Tudyk’s droid K-2SO (Kaytoo) is described by director Gareth Edwards as “a little bit like Chewbacca’s personality in a droid’s body. He doesn’t give a s— about what you think.” Looks like Chopper is getting some company in the ‘cranky droid’ department. Here’s a full body shot.
Edwads also confirms that there are two background aliens who fight with the group, but “they’re not necessarily front-and-center.”
Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican has reached out to Lucasfilm sources to check out what really behind all the Rogue One reshoot brouhaha that’s been going on this week.
Lucasfilm isn’t ‘officially’ commenting on the rumors, but given that EW has been one of their most frequent choices for film reveals in the past few years, this is probably as close as we’re going to get. Here’s the rundown:
→ The reshoots were indeed preplanned, though they have been moved back to summer to allow for adjustment. They expect to lock picture in August, with scoring beginning in September – earlier than The Force Awakens, which locked in October.
→ They are not reshooting 40% of the film, as Making Star Wars claimed yesterday. If that was the case, the film would likely have been pushed back.
→ The reshoots “have everything to do with clarity and character development” and are parts of larger scenes that are already shot. “It’s a lot of talking in cockpits,” one insider said.
→ One reason the reshoots are for such a long period has to do with scheduling the actors. With things being pushed back, the actors have other commitments that need to be worked around.
→ Christopher McQuarrie contributed to an earlier draft of the script, but is not involved at the moment. EW did find another script collaborator, though: Tony Gilroy, who came aboard in the spring and “has even been recruited to consult on other Star Wars projects.” He has a long association with Frank Marshall and also worked on Edwards’ Godzilla. He will act as a second unit director for the reshoots.
→ There have been other rumors/fears flying that the film is being “watered down” to appeal to the traditional Disney demographic. These accusations are unfounded, EW says, and Rogue One is still very much a war movie. The only people within Disney who’ve seen it are CEO Bob Iger and studio chief Alan Horn. There’s no feeling of “meddling” from the parent company, EW sources say, just gratefulness that they allowed the schedule alteration.
→ There have been no test screenings with the public. (Did anyone ever really buy that one?)
→ And, in what is no surprise to anyone, we’ll see more of Rogue One at Celebration Europe in July. Expect to be blown away.
UPDATE: Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, who worked on the script, says he is not supervising the reshoots. (MSW says he’s “helping out.”) “For any outlet to say so is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible,” he tells Slashfilm. “Gareth Edwards is a talented filmmaker who deserves the benefit of the doubt.”
MSW also found out that Scott Z. Burns did an earlier pass at the script.
A report emerged yesterday from Page Six claiming that Disney executives are worried about Rogue One, that that the movie is “in crisis,” and that they are thus having do – gasp! – reshoots.
Now, here’s a ‘scoop’ for you: Reshoots happen on all big effects movies these days, to the point where they are planned in advance. They are standard. It’s not an unusual move. Rogue One may indeed have some issues, but there’s plenty of time yet to refine it. So reshoots alone are not a reason to panic… And a report from Page Six alone is not going to make me worry.
In other news, the Queen is on the cover of June’s issue of Vanity Fair, meaning we’re not getting a Rogue One spread just yet. I’m beginning to suspect we won’t see it until the publicity machine really kicks in – probably the fall. And no, that’s not a reason to panic, either.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has weighed in – a source a bit more hefty than Page Six. Their source says director Gareth Edwards’ first cut was “a solid showing,” but “anything less than extraordinary won’t do.”
And here’s what they have to say about the aim of the reshoots:
The goal of the reshoots will be to lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure.
As we recently learned from Oscar Isaac, a similar thing happened with The Force Awakens, a similar thing happened with The Force Awakens reshoots, which brought in the film’s first bit of lightheartedness – the “who talks first” line.