We attended the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story press event over the weekend, ahead of the movie’s release next week. Spoilers were, of course, verboten—but fun facts and random nuggets were not. Here are five things we learned from a pair of press conferences featuring various members of the cast and crew.
Director Gareth Edwards was in the middle of a press-interview blitz when he was pulled aside to take a very important phone call. As he recalled:
Two days ago, we got to show George the movie. We all had a phone call and I got to speak with him yesterday. And I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie, so it meant a lot. To be honest, and no offense to anyone here, it was the most important review to me... and I will take that conversation to the grave. It was a real privilege and his opinion means the world to me.
Since Lucas very specifically damned The Force Awakens with faint praise when asked about it, saying he “liked” Rogue One is a definite improvement.
According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, “That isn’t really the approach that we have. We don’t sit down and start isolating a list of characters and then build stories around those. We really are starting with the stories themselves, and then if some of those characters might come into what it is we want to do or say, we’ll consider it then. But that’s not part of the strategy.”
3) Kathleen Kennedy would like to clarify those comments she made about why we’ve yet to see a woman direct a Star Wars film
“That quote was taken out of context. As you can imagine, I have every intention of giving someone an opportunity. If somebody actually moves through the process of making movies, and wants to make a Star Wars movie, and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.”
4) It was very, very hard for everyone to keep their shit together when Darth Vader was filming his scenes
“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader,” said Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Rogue One villain Krennic. “That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy.”
You all know Ben’s work. He’s got this ability, if he wants to, to be incredibly intimidating. In the entire process of making the film, it was like being a kid in a candy store. We had an amazing time. And I kept thinking, I wonder if there will ever be this moment where I’ll see any of the characters that he’s played pop out. We were in the middle of a scene with Darth, and Ben was like, “Gareth, I need to talk to you. We need to go in the corner. I need to have a word.” And it was like “Oh, shit, here we go. What’s the matter? Are you all right, Ben?” And he goes, “Nah.... It’s Darth Fucking Vader!” And I was like, “I know!” And we had this little moment where we melted and we could just admit it, and then we turned around, very professionally.
Alan Tudyk, who plays former Imperial droid K-2S0, describing his motion-capture suit: “I wore a suit that was very comfortable... it was very cool-looking, [like] a luge costume from, like, the Italian team. And then I was on stilts, so I was 7'1", so I towered over everyone most of the time. Just even at that height, it colors how you move, and it helped me get into character.”
Diego Luna: “The first month, we just couldn’t look at him because he did look ridiculous. It was the tightest pajamas ever, and on stilts, you were always the height of his balls, here [gestures to face as everyone laughs]. It was quite intimidating!”
Gareth Edwards: “A lot of the humor that’s in the film that’s really funny is just [Alan] improvising. He was given freedom to do whatever he wanted and there are shots we couldn’t use because sometimes I was holding the camera and I’m laughing, and the camera’s rocking up and down.”