When “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” comes to theaters, fans aren’t entirely sure what they’re going to get. While it’s set in the “Star Wars” universe, much of the action appears to be battles at the ground level — like the fighting seen in the latest sizzle reel — rather than huge aerial battle with TIE Fighters and X-Wings trying to blow each other out of the sky. It’s also largely devoid of the Force — the unseen main character of most “Star Wars” films.
That’s not the most interesting departure for “Rogue One,” though. Instead, it’s some of the decisions director Gareth Edwards made behind the camera that are proving to be the most fascinating. At Star Wars Celebration, mere hours after unleashing a new poster and trailer for “Rogue One” on the world, Edwards gave a little insight into how he shot the movie unlike any in the “Star Wars” franchise.
“We went to Jordan to film and we built this set in Pinewood that was 360 degrees so you could kind of look wherever you wanted. Normally on a set the extras are told, ‘OK, on action you walk over there and on cut you stop,’ and we said, ‘OK, for the next hour you’re cooking food, or you’re doing this car thing,’ and the crew were wearing costumes so if the cameras turned around on them, they wouldn’t be in the shot,” he reveals. “So we tried to keep it all flowing and the actors were given the freedom to go where they wanted and do the scene in a way that felt right. So there’s a lot of freedom and it had this organic, different vibe to it than you associate sometimes with ‘Star Wars,’ and so that felt really exciting.”
These scenes in particular are set on a new planet being introduced in “Rogue One,” Jedha. If you’re thinking Jedha sounds a lot like Jedi, you’re definitely on the right track.
“If you believe in the Jedi and you believe in the Force, it feels like Jedha is somewhere you should visit in your lifetime,” Edwards teases. “It’s like a spiritual home of the Jedi.”
As for the organic nature of of that filming, that formula didn’t simply stick to Jedha, but instead it was a method Edwards attempted to install throughout the movie — even when it comes to the appearance of Darth Vader (James Earl Jones).
In fact, the reveal of Vader that was shown to Celebration attendees was born out of that philosophy. In the trailer, which is not available online, the camera pans up to see the reflection of Vader on the floor as his breathing is heard. Edwards says the idea of using the reflection to introduce Vader came about after the set was built and they say how it all came together.
With so much thinking outside the box happening on “Rogue One,” this may very well become the year’s most anticipated movie when all is said and done.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is in theaters Friday, Dec. 16.