Who's In It?
Disney confirmed the bulk of the casting for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story late last year in a press release, though the character identities and their roles in the film have yet to be revealed. As of this writing, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk - who plays a performance-capture character – and Riz Ahmed have all been confirmed. (We previously reported that Sam Claflin was considered a frontrunner for a lead role, but either he lost out to another actor or Disney just hasn’t announced him yet; the former is more likely.)
What's It About?
The main crux of the plot of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a little more straightforward thanks to an official tweet from the franchise’s official Twitter account: "A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One."
Sounds great, but in order to dig into that a little bit more, we’ll take a look at what director Gareth Edwards, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Lucasfilm’s vice president of development Kiri Hart revealed at “Star Wars Celebration” last April. And what better way to do that than to revisit the teaser trailer that was shown to audiences in attendance. While the trailer hasn’t officially been released yet, we do have a pretty decent description of it here:
-The trailer was made entirely by ILM before the film even started shooting.
-Obi-Wan’s Voice narrates, “For over a thousand of generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the Dark Times. Before the Empire.”
-The camera slowly tracks through a heavily forested landscape to reveal the Death Star looming over the horizon of an unknown planet.
-The final thing we hear is audio of garbled screams over a communications radio.
As you can tell from the above-mentioned synopsis and teaser trailer description, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will take place between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. As Edwards said during the Celebration, the film actually takes place a bit closer to his favorite film in the Star Wars franchise, the original one that started it all. Originally conceived by George Lucas, Rogue One and the other anthology films will explore more stories that take place within the Star Wars universe, not just those that specifically follow the Skywalker lineage. In fact, one of the most interesting elements of Rogue One is that there are almost no Jedi present since it takes place during a time in which that order is all but extinct.
Further placing the movie within the existing timeline of Star Wars and its current properties, this film is also set in the same time period as the animated series Star Wars Rebels, something Disney/Lucasfilm brass are most definitely aware of. Kennedy was careful to explain that just because this particular film happened to predate the existing trilogy, that doesn’t mean all of the anthology films will do the same:
"It just so happens to be Rogue One is the precursor to New Hope and, yes, this Han Solo idea but I would not argue that we are setting up any kind of prequel notion with these standalone movies. I think that’s so far just coincidence. And to be perfectly honest, we have changed the order of those at the last minute, so that’s not the intention at all."
So while Rogue One will likely feature characters you haven’t seen on screen before, or may never have even heard of at all, there’s a chance that some major players from the original films will return. There’s a rumor that Darth Vader himself will make an appearance, not as the main antagonist, but as a puppet master behind the scenes. Stranger still is the idea that the late Peter Cushing might be virtually resurrected Tupac-style in order to bring Grand Moff Tarkin back to life on screen. Both characters were resurrected for the animated series Star Wars Rebels, so perhaps that’s where their stories will appear once again, but there’s every possibility they’ll also appear in live-action. Disney has the technology; they can revive them.
Who's Working on It?
As we mentioned earlier, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) will be directing the anthology film, with Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart among the film’s producers. Hart mentioned that they want directors to be a strong creative force behind each of these anthology films. Edwards was recommended by a number of people to direct and although he was initially reluctant due to being exhausted by working on Godzilla, he “couldn’t sit in a cinema and know someone else made this film.”
Executive producer and story writer John Knoll (from ILM) came up with the original idea for the film, which was one of the first pitches Kennedy heard when she came on board. There’s an unconfirmed rumor that Christopher McQuarrie may have taken a look at the script, but if he has, he hasn’t received any screenwriting or story credits yet. Those honors go to for his characters, Chris Weitz for his screenplay work, and Gary Whitta for storycraft, alongside Knoll.
There’s quite a bit more quality behind-the-scenes talent as well:
-Director of Photography Greig Fraser worked on Zero Dark Thirty
-VFX supervisor Neil Corbould worked on Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan.
-Neil Lamont (Harry Potter series) and Doug Chiang (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace) are production designers.
-Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat will bring his considerable skills to bear in crafting Rogue One’s score
-Stunt coordinator Rob Inch (World War Z, Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger)
-Creature effects supervisor Neal Scanlan (Prometheus)
-Co-costume designers Dave Crossman (costume supervisor for the Harry Potter series, Saving Private Ryan) and Glyn Dillon (costume concept artist for Kingsman: The Secret Service, Jupiter Ascending).
Continue to Collider to read about the visual style and tone of Rogue One