I was invited by Disney to a Rogue One press trip to facilitate reviews and interviews.
It is Rogue One Day! After watching only 28 minutes of the movie at the Skywalker Ranch, you better believe we were ready to pick the director’s brain! A fun fact is that when he welcomed us to view the famous 28 minutes of the film, he did comment on how he would much prefer to have us watch it all… I guess The Empire had some influence not to let a Rebel go Rogue this time? To mark opening day for the much anticipated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story we share with you our interview with the director Gareth Edwards who gives us his Star Wars confession.
Exclusive Interview with Rogue One Director Gareth Edwards
We have Riz Ahmed to thank for setting up good spirits for the interview. Not only did we just have a fabulous interview with Ahmed, in passing he told Edwards we were really nice. Thanks Riz! Once we were settled, the first thing we talked with Gareth Edwards was if he had done or prepared in any particular way if he had know he was going to direct a Star Wars film: ” I probably would have been a nervous wreck every single day and I probably would never have had a job, and I would have sat and prepared it for 30 odd years. And then the day it began, I think I would have brought in everything saying okay, I know exactly what to do. It starts off with this shot, and then becomes this shot. And then I realize I would have wasted my entire life.
Yes, he was glad he didn’t know, and adds: “There’s something about the organic process of making a film. If you are a dictatorship, like the Empire, and you say it’s gonna be this, this, and this, I think you limit how great the film can become. Even though it was a massive movie, and there’s all this pressure to have a specific plan, we were gonna keep it incredibly fluid. So we had 360 degree (angle) sets where we could film in any direction. I remember on day 1 in this set called Jedha, which is one of the cities that we go through where the force believers are, we started filming, the actors could do what they wanted to. I just happened to pan left and there suddenly were all these crew members in shot that suddenly ran out of frame. Then the next day we came and the same sort of thing happened where I pan left, and the crew was there, but this time they’re all wearing Star Wars costumes. They’d all learned to put robes on and that way, wherever the camera went, they could be in it if they had to be. They secretly loved it.”.
Getting to Direct Rogue One
We we curious about how Edwards got to direct Rogue One, here is his answer: “I’m not really sure how that bit happened. I think the big break for me, there were two. I went to film school. I wanted to make films. That’s all I ever wanted to do as a kid. I graduated and read the Steven Spielberg story of how you make a short film, and then Hollywood calls. I think they lost my number because I never got that call, and I had to work in a supermarket. I tried to earn some money to buy a computer so I could learn software because it felt like this was going to be the future of film making. That digital technology. It was all developed here with George and ILM, and pushing the boundaries that you could. I thought you could make a film from home on a home computer. I just needed six months and I could learn the software to go make one. It took me more like ten years to learn it and be any good. I had spent that time doing visual effects for things like the BBC and Discovery Channel. Then one day I just thought, I’ve had enough. I can’t live with myself, being an old man, having never tried to do what I really wanted to do, which was become a director. So I quit my job and went and made a film where there was just five of us traveling around Central America. I did all the visual effects myself, and shot it. We showed it at South by Southwest – the projection broke down – and then at the end of the thing, this guy comes up to me and he gives me a business card. He says I’d love to talk to you whenever you’ve got a moment. The next day, as if by magic, he turned up, he just found me somehow. He said, I’m from an agency in Hollywood, and I represent directors, and I’d like to represent you. I’m with Quinton Tarantino and Tim Burton, and from that day on, my life changed.”
The Pressure of Making a Star Wars Film
With such a huge close following, you can’t help but think about potential fan base out cries about what happens in a particular Star Wars film. Was it intimidating for Edwards knowing that every word and action would undergo intense scrutiny? “here’s a line in the original [movie] where Luke Skywalker is doing the attack run on the Death Star through the trench. And he’s got the computer and he turns it off, and it goes wee. Someone goes, Luke! You’ve turned off your computer! And he goes, it’s okay, I’m all right. It’s kind of like that. He trusts the force. Literally you got to turn off your computer and not look at the internet. And just believe, you can bullseye this. You’ve just got to keep going! And you know everyone’s shooting at you.
Believe in yourself and then go for it. To me, that’s the takeaway from the original film. If you believe you can do something, and you never give up, then you can achieve anything. I guess I took it too literally.”.
Choosing the Rogue One Cast
Did Gareth Edwards have anyone in mind? How did he go about choosing his cast? He started by saying that at the onset: “You try not to think about anyone”. But then, it gets very difficult to think about the movie and not be visual about who you are talking about. Invariably you will end up thinking of people. He shares about Ben Mendelsohn: “Ben and Forrest just popped up straight away. I’ve seen Ben’s work. I loved Animal Kingdom. I thought it was one of the best films in a long time and then forgot about it. Then watched a film called Startup. I just came away that night going we’ve got to call this guy. This guy is Krennic. We’ve got to try and get him. As I came into work, I’m going to pitch this to the producer, and as I walked into the office, one of the producers, went, can I just stop you a second? I said no. I want to talk to you about Krennic. He goes, I’ve got the guy. He’d watched a totally different film, and he said Ben Mendelsohn. I was about to say Ben Mendelson. It was really weird. Like, genuinely weird. From that point on, we were not going to take no for an answer. Thank god Ben is a massive Star Wars fan.”.
He goes on sharing the story of on-boarding Ben Mendelson once he was set on him as Krennic: “I met him on a rooftop in LA, which sounds really glamorous, but it was raining. We’d already organized to meet there. We wanted to be away so no one could hear. As soon as I talked about Star Wars, he was just giggling. I [asked] you’re a fan? He [said] I love it! I watched it all the time as a kid. I said that is why I got into films.”.
Star Wars Details/ History
28 minutes was short, but in it we saw plenty of details from the original movies like The blue drink. The setup of Jyn’s home. Did Gareth Edwards get to use any props from the first trilogy for Rogue One?
“They never anticipated that Star Wars would become this when they made it. Sometimes there’s not a record of what an object is. I can’t talk about some things because they’re spoilers but there is a guy as the Millennium Falcon comes in with this speed gun or something. We were calling up the art department and they have got no record of what that is. So, we called the guy who is originally in the movie and asked -do you remember what that was? He said, oh yeah! We grabbed a light meter for the camera. And we taped it together and I just held it. Were those objects? We just want to get those objects and do exactly the same thing. He’s like, I’m not sure! We looked at it in high res and tried to replicate it.”.
Gareth Edwards gives us his Star Wars confession
Every Star Wars fan has a tale. But I think few can leave a mark like Edwards, besides directing a Star Wars film, that is. Gareth Edwards gives us his Star Wars confession: “I’ve got a confession, I’m a massive Star Wars fan. For my 30th birthday, I went to Tunisia, and woke up on the day I turned 30 in Luke Skywalker’s house. It wasn’t like a crazy night out. I took some blue dye with me because I wanted to drink blue milk in the very table where he does with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. I actually made a blue milk glass drink and drank it. Then dropped it, and it went all over the floor and there’s this big blue stain now. I felt really bad because this is cinema history. Then I was, well,you kind of left your mark. That might outlive me in Star Wars world than anything else that I know.”.
Rogue One: A Star Wars History
TODAY! Today is the day I grab my family and go watch it. Yes, December 16th has a historic kind of undertone to it for us. We shared it all with you:
Now it is time. May the Force be with you as you watch!