Lucasfilm is known to not be a happy creative home for directors. The revolving door of Star Wars has seen many walk, or be pushed. Creative differences abound. One person who was caught up in this was Gareth Edwards. He directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This is arguably the best of the Disney Star Wars movies so far.
It was not plain sailing. Rogue One famously underwent five weeks of reshoots with Andor showrunner Tony Gilroy re-writing parts of Gary Whitta’s script and overseeing the additional filming. This was after Edwards had already delivered his early cut of the movie.
The trailers featured several shots and lines of dialogue that did not make it into the final movie, along with a completely different-looking Saw Gerrera. Many have speculated on just how much of the movie Gilroy re-shot. Ben Mendelsohn, who played Director Orson Krennic, had spoken about up to thirty scenes being shot, and versions of the movie existing that he referred to as “enormously different renderings”.
Gilroy himself was very direct. In an interview with Brian Koppelman via Apple all the way back in 2018, he said:
“They [Lucasfilm] were in such a swamp … they were in so much terrible, terrible trouble that all you could do was improve their position.”
Edwards is out promoting The Creator and, inevitably, he still gets asked about this. He remains diplomatic and refuses to be drawn into any controversy. In an interview with Variety he says:
“Look, the only thing I can say is I was incredibly lucky. I got to make a Star Wars film. I won the lottery, in that sense. The idea of someone as privileged as me in any way implying that it was anything other than the amazing experience that it was to some extent – like, I don’t have any empathy for that person, and I don’t want to be that person either.”
He went on to say to Uproxx that:
“…we got to play in that sandbox for a bit and so I wouldn’t complain about any of it. I’d do it again if I had a time machine.”
Gilroy’s most recent foray into Star Wars is Andor This is a darker, slower exploration of a period in Star Wars history that is big on character and dialogue and less about space battles and laser swords. Star Wars for grown-ups. According to the rumors, that is what we almost had in Rogue One.
Many reports exist as to what Edwards’ original cut of the movie contained that troubled Lucasfilm so much. The tone was said to match the early teasers (only shown at a Con) that featured a drop ship of rebel troops landing in the jungle, under heavy fire, at night, and in the rain with increasingly frantic radio chatter screaming for help. It was much closer to The Dirty Dozen style of old war movie featuring a team on a mission, which then gave way to a full-on battle movie akin to The Longest Day.
Rumors say the battle finale featured AT-ATs stomping on rebel commandos as X-Wing’s strafed trenches full of stormtroopers. The biggest change, according to the scuttlebutt, was Vader himself.
In Edwards’ version, he was not such a prominent character. Instead, he was an ethereal menace, lurking in the darkness and talked about in hushed tones as a semi-mythical, just rumored, new enforcer for the Emperor. His one scene featured him shrouded in the jungle darkness, revealed only by the red of his lightsaber, slaughtering an entire garrison of rebel troops camped for the night. This would appear to have been the inspiration for his eventual combat scene at the end of the theatrical cut of Rogue One.
Lucasfilm saw the first cut of the movie and panicked, calling in Gilroy.
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