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 key quotes, 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?”
Diego Luna is Captain Cassian Andor, “a by-the-book Rebel intelligence officer.” He’s a bit weary but has a commitment to the long fight.
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.”
Head to EW for more details.