Closing out day one of the Star Wars Celebration in London was undoubtedly the most anticipated panel, the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story panel. It began with an interrupted title crawl of A New Hope, signifying the underlining sacrifice that seemingly goes into acquiring those valuable Death Star plans.
Captain Phasma herself, Gwendoline Christie, then took centre stage as the panel moderator, screaming profusely in excitement. Before kicking-off the panel Christie mentioned the tragic events that happened in Nice, France, to which French members of the crowd began touchingly singing the national anthem after a moments silence.
Following that president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, Industrial Lights and Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll, and Kiri Har, vice president of development for Lucasfilm Ltd took to the stage. The panel marks 40 years since A New Hope was made to which Kathleen expressed her excitement. She also touched on why she chose Gareth Edwards to direct the movie and his style of filmmaking:
“Gareth made this decision to go for a style where he puts the camera on his shoulder all the time, to reach for incredible shots. It marks a style a Star Wars film has never see. Rogue One will be an incredibly immersive experience.”
Gareth then proceeded to talk about what it means to him to have directed a Star Wars movie.
“I watched A New Hope everyday” Gareth said. “It has been the most insane and surreal experience. In the middle of one shot somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said do you want to meet Luke Skywalker. I looked over and there was Mark Hamill wearing a Godzilla t-shirt. That was a fond moment.”
John Knoll of ILM then mentioned how Rouge One almost never came to be:
“I had this idea of a mission impossible, spy theme around stealing the death star plans. I dropped it until seeing the slate of the upcoming Star Wars films and the individual Star Wars story movies.”
Early concept art showed an ensemble of original characters. Following that was the reveal of a piece of concept art, showcasing the original line up of unlikely heroes for the movie. Kiri Hart of Lucasfilm said:
“ [Rogue One] is an opportunity to build out new characters and stories but apart of a familiar timeline in the Star Wars universe.”
In addition to that we also got a glimpse of a new poster for Rogue One, which was being handed out to members of the audience.
Most importantly, following the introduction of the cast, we got a sizzle reel of behind-the-scenes footage from Rogue One, which showcased new stuff. Ow and Ben Mendelson walked out in full costume surrounded by Deathtroopers, which was a crowdpleaser for sure.
Check out the footage below:
Afterwards each of the cast members touched on their respective characters. Felicity Jones marked the difference between her heroine and others, stating she is self aware of who she is and that’s what drives her forward.
Diego Luna then revealed that his character, Captain Cassian Andor, holds the team together but also has a reprogrammed Imperial Droid as a friend named K-2S0 played by Alan Tudyk.
Tidy talked briefly about the droid:
“He was data wiped so he’s not quite all there. He speaks his mind, like an old person.”
Riz Ahmed skirted around his characters shifting allegiances after being asked about the Imperial patch he wears. From being an Imperial pilot to an Rebel fighter:
“He’s wearing an Imperial patch because he works for the Empire as a pilot. He questions things. The city he is from is occupied and it’s events there that have him question his role.”
Whitaker: “Saw Gerrera is a Rebel fighter that has been fighting for some time. Trained as a Gorilla fighter and will do whatever it takes to save the world.”
It then turned to Mads Mikkelsen and the reveal that his character, Galen Erso, is the father of Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones. He couldn’t say much about his character due to his integral part of the plot, but what he did mention was this: “He is a person of interest. He is a scientist who invented something that could change the universe.”
As the panel drew to a close, Gwendoline Christie touched on the elephant in the room, Darth Vader. He is one of the film’s antagonists, voiced by legendary voice actor James Earl Jones, but we haven’t seen him in action. Those lucky enough to attend the panel seemingly saw a glimpse of him as the livestream of the panel cut off, but before that, Gareth Edwards shared a funny story about Vader.
“We finished shooting in December and met with James Earl Jones to do voice over. He said one line, power, and we all had a nerdgasm.”
Though we saw no new trailer and didn’t get to see Vader, we were given a load on new footage highlighting the very practical style of Gareth Edwards filmmaking and the gritty tone of the movie. The more we see, the more the wait until December becomes ever more painful.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16.