Rogue One Bits: A Profile Of John Knoll, Oscar Chances, And 'Rogue One' Titles Devised By Internet Commenters

In this final pre-release edition of Rogue One Bits:

  • A profile about ILM's John Knoll and his contributions to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
  • Visual effects artist Todd Vaziri reflects on his Rogue One experience.
  • What would Rogue One be called if internet commenters had their way?
  • Does Rogue One have any kind of chance at the Oscars?
  • The latest interview with Felicity Jones.
  • Hot Toys reveals their K-2SO figure.
  • Go behind-the-scenes of the Rogue One premiere live stream.
  • Pablo Hidalgo answers some pressing Star Wars questions.

Todd Vaziri, a lead artist at Industrial Light and Magic who worked on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has written a brief blog post on the even of the film's release. Naturally, he's very proud of his work (as he should be):

My experience with "Rogue One" began three years ago when John Knoll stopped me in the hallways of ILM and asked me, "Does this sound like a cool idea for a movie?" Two years ago I led a secret project that had a big impact on future "Star Wars" films including "Rogue One" (will remain secret for now). For almost a year, I've been leading a special unit on the film, as well as doing several shots myself.

"Rogue One" has been the most creatively rewarding film of my career. It's also the film I've personally had the most impact upon.

Of course, now we have to wonder what that "secret project" he's talking about could possibly be...

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Speaking of ILM and visual effects supervisor John Knoll, Vanity Fair has published an excellent look his contributions to Rogue One. In addition to his work on leading teams who conceive entire worlds, spaceships, and aliens out of thin air, Knoll conceived of the original story for Rogue One a decade ago after thinking about the rebel spies mentioned in the opening crawl of the original Star Wars:

Thinking about those never-seen covert agents, Knoll began conceiving of a story that, compared to the sprawling space opera of the trilogy films, would be fast, focused, and jam-packed with action.

"Imagine a Mission: Impossible-style spy or infiltration mission into the core, the very heart of the Empire's military industrial complex, the most secure facility in the Empire," Knoll describes. "You have a small band of experts with complementary skills who, together, are able to do these amazing things."

The story would take place between the two trilogies, just before the start of A New Hope. Certain iconic characters would have to show up, their appearances calibrated for maximum effect and import rather than fan service. "Vader was always in," Knoll says. "He's not one of the leads, but he shows up, and when he does, it's important."

When Disney bought Lucasfilm and standalone Star Wars movies became a thing, Knoll was encouraged to pitch his idea. You'll have to read the story linked above for the details.

What would Rogue One be titled if idiotic, sexist, homophobic, and misogynistic internet commenters had their way? Comedian and author Aaron Gillies went through the Daily Mail comment section and found out. First of all, I would happily watch all of this movies, especially It Will be Full Of Gays Next: A Star Wars Story. But the real kicker is that last one, which claims that it is unrealistic for women to be in space...when there is literally a woman in space right now. Seriously.

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Gregory Ellwood at The Playlist has written an interesting post about Rogue One's Oscar chances, noting that the film is already echoing what went down with Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year. Because of Disney and Lucasfilm's nearly unbreakable wall of secrecy around the film, J.J. Abrams' entry in the series didn't screen for critics and Academy voters until very late in the process, keeping it from gaining any kind of awards season momentum. Ellwood notes that, given the right push, Rogue One could have been a contender:

This is head scratching because while most of the Disney staff didn't see 'Rogue One' until the beginning of December (less than two weeks ago) the movie is Oscar worthy in many categories. Director of Photography Greig Fraser did a beautiful job shooting potential Best Picture nominee "Lion," but his overall work here is much more impressive. Production Designers Doug Chiang and Neil LaMont collaborated with Edwards on a vision for the "Star Wars" galaxy that is arguably the most iconic since "Empire Strikes Back." David Crossman and Glyn Dillon tell unique stories in their costume designs that feel incredible fresh and new for a prequel to a film shot 40 years ago. And while Michael Giacchino has completed three other scores this calendar year ("Zootopia," "Star Trek Beyond" and "Doctor Strange") his work on 'Rogue One' is perhaps his most subtle and moving work since his Oscar-winning score for "Up" (and following up Williams, no less).  Moreover, in a year of fantastic ensembles are you telling me SAG nom com wouldn't really consider this troupe if given the chance (or even a slight push)?

The Force Awakens ended up snagging five Oscar nods, all of them in technical categories. It's likely that Rogue One will follow a similar path.

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The Sun interviewed Felicity Jones about her work in Rogue One and while some of the answers are a little familiar (did you know being on a Star Wars set is surreal?), this detail about creating a scrappy, streetwise fighting style for Jyn is quite interesting:

I wanted her to feel quite street wise, she isn't hugely rich, she has brought herself up, she doesn't have a lot of privileges, and she's had to survive on her own. I didn't just learn martial arts, we wanted her fighting to be quite scrappy so I looked at Thai boxing, Wushu and Kung Fu so it was a real bit of a mix match.

And yes, Jones is very excited to be immortalized as an action figure:

I have started to collect my own action figures. We have been touring all over the world and I kind getting different sizes of them but the one I really can't get used to is the one that comes up to my knee. All my family are getting Star Wars memorabilia for Christmas this year for sure.

Speaking of collecting toys, Hot Toys has revealed their new K-2SO figure, who, rather appropriately, towers over the other characters in the line. The figure isn't expected to arrive until late next year, but you can order one right now for $230.

The latest episode of The Star Wars Show diverges from the usual format, eschewing a collection of various news news and interview pieces to explore how the StarWars.com team put together the red carpet live stream at the Rogue One premiere. It's interesting stuff...and probably necessary, since the slowest time for Star Wars news is, strangely enough, the week a new Star Wars movie is hitting theaters. This segment is backed up by a fun look at the weapons of Rogue One, with Gareth Edwards and his cast explaining the design and functionality of their gear.

One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm story group, whose day-to-day job involves maintaining the new Star Wars canon. His feed is a mixture of observations about whatever is going on in the Star Wars universe, insights into the production of the various films, shows, and books, and, most importantly, him addressing many of your pressing questions. For example, here he is touching on the behind-the-scenes discussion over whether or not Rogue One would ever have an opening crawl setting the stage for the story to come. We now know that the film doesn't have one, a big break from Star Wars tradition, but that they did consider it.

In the Star Wars: Catalyst novel, scientist Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen in the film) uses Kyber crystals as part of a secret project of the Empire, unaware that he is building the Death Star superlaser. But during his research, he wonders if these crystals could generate more power by tapping into the mystical "dark side" of the Force. Keep this in mind when you read this exchange between Pablo Hidalgo and a fan...and then watch the destruction of Alderaan.