Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The morning after watching 28 minutes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I joined the rest of the gathered press as we reconvened at Lucasfilm for a full day of interviews (which you can read right over here). But before that, we assembled for the group press conference, moderated by StarWars.com’s Andi Gutierrez. In attendance were Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, director Gareth Edwards, visual effects supervisor (and story creator) John Knoll, and actors Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, and Riz Ahmed.
The result was a sprawling morning that covered everything from the genesis of the film’s unique look, to George Lucas’ reaction to the final cut, to Kathleen Kennedy addressing her previous comments about women directing Star Wars movies…to Alan Tudyk’s very, very tight motion capture jumpsuit. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Cast Literally Just Saw the Movie
Although the gathered press was able to see nearly a half hour of Rogue One prior to the conference, Gareth Edwards revealed that the cast had just seen the finished movie days earlier and that it was frustrating to not share it with everyone else:
Gareth Edwards: It’s strange. Obviously, this is a very strange period in making films. For about two and a half years, you’re really busy making it and you have your head down and you really can’t think about anything else. And now that we’ve finished the movie but haven’t released it, I feel like we’re a little bit pregnant, at the due date, and just waiting to give birth and share it with the world.
Alan Tudyk: My water broke! [Awkward pause] Bad timing.
Gareth Edwards: It’s kind of frustrating in a weird way to not be able to show you all of the movie now. The cast got to see it for the first time two days ago and it went down very well.
Diego Luna: It’s fantastic, yeah?
No, There Won’t Be a Rogue Two
When asked about Kathleen Kennedy’s recent statements about there not being a sequel to Rogue One, the assembled cast all mimed confusion and horror before laughing.
Kathleen Kennedy: [To the actors] I know this is devastating to everybody…
Diego Luna: We don’t know that yet! That’s a conversation we haven’t had!
Kathleen Kennedy: When we came up with the idea to do the standalone movie…what’s liberating in many ways is the notion that we can come up with these stories inside the Star Wars universe that really have a beginning, middle and and end. They stand, truly, on their own. This does.
But will any Rogue One characters show up in future movies? Start planning your death pool, because when asked about this directly, Kennedy offered a cryptic answer amidst laughter:
Kathleen Kennedy: Doubtful. Tears. A lot of tears. Diego, are you alright?
Diego Luna: No!
John Knoll: One way to think of the sequel to Rogue One is that it’s episode four. We already made it.
Alan Tudyk: And we can’t be in that!
John Knoll: Not without some substantial rework.
When asked about how Rogue One is different from the other Star Wars movies, Gareth Edwards explained a simple origin story – real life photography plus Star Wars iconography plus a little bit of Photoshop (the now-common program that was coincidentally designed by Rogue One VFX supervisor and story creator John Knoll):
When we started this whole process, one of the things Kathy would be asking the whole time was “How is this going to be different? We need to differentiate ourselves from the saga.” We started playing around and experimenting and one of the things we did was we took real war photography like photographs from Vietnam and World War II and the Gulf and we used [Photoshop] and put Rebel helmets on the soldiers and Rebel guns and some X-wings in the background instead of fighter jets. So we looked at this stuff and it was really engaging. Everyone who came and looked around the building and we showed them things and they’d get to these images and they’d go “Oh my God, wow. I really want to see that film.” The studio loved it, everybody loved it, and they’d say just go make that. That’s kind of what we went off and did.
On Cast and Crew Bonding
Even the smallest film productions are stressful affairs, so a project as large as Rogue One really took it out of everyone involved. Gareth Edwards himself compared it to fighting in a war:
Gareth Edwards: It was kind of like being in a war. The film crew became like the characters in a way. It’s sort of a cliche that the process of making a film becomes like the story you’re telling, but in this case, we were all literally in the trenches together, trying to achieve this impossible task. The characters were trying to steal the Death Star plans, but as a group we’re trying to make a great Star Wars movie. You feel like you’ve been through a battle together. Maybe I’m speaking for myself here, but I feel like there’s this connection you have now… [to Diego Luna] No matter what happens, Diego, if I see you in like in twenty years, we’re just going to have that. Like we’ve been through a war together.
Diego Luna: I don’t know what you’re talking about…I just had to be reminded every day that I was getting paid. [Laughs]