Gareth Edwards On How He Filmed a Darth Vader Scene in ‘Rogue One’
Darth Vader is one of the most iconic villains in movie history. We haven’t seen or heard him since Anakin Skywalker first donned the famous black suit at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but in Gareth Edwards‘ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Vader is back.
During the Rogue One panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe on Friday, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy showed the audience a secret new teaser from the movie. At the end (spoiler alert), a brief reflection of Vader’s suit appears on a shining black floor right before he takes two of his famous Darth Vader breaths.
ScreenCrush and a group of journalists caught up with Edwards after the panel to watch a drone battle presentation and roundtable chat with the director. When asked about his choice to introduce Vader’s highly anticipated return in the trailer as a reflection, Edwards told us the shot was an “experiment” he never planned. When he saw the character’s reflection, he knew he had to shoot it.
They built the whole set, they had a reflection. Vader went in there, and we’re looking at the reflecting like, ‘Oh, that’s f–cking cool.’ And so as we're filming we’re like, ‘Go down, go down. Get it.’ And we're just trying and playing around, and things happen that you wouldn’t have asked for. So that was a great example of it. We’d never have picked that shot, but it’s really all in front of you and you get excited about something.
But that wasn’t the only type of experimenting that went into Rogue One. Edwards described his filmmaking on the Star Wars spinoff as “organic.” When talking about the movie’s new planet, Jedha, Edwards said the crew built a 360 degree set in Jordan that allowed them more freedom when shooting. The director gave each of his background actors character descriptions and even dressed the camera operators in costume to allow for a more fluid filmmaking process:
Normally on a set the extras are told, ‘OK, on action you walk there, on cut you stop there.’ And we said, for the next hour you’re gonna be this character. You’re cooking food, or you’re working on this car. And we basically we had, the crew were wearing costumes so if the cameras turned around they wouldn’t really stand out. We tried to keep it all flowing and the actors were given the freedom to go where they wanted and do the scenes in a way that felt right. … Theres a lot of freedom and it had this organic, kind of different vibe to it than you’d associate sometimes with Star Wars.
It’s exciting to hear how Edwards’ has been able to craft Rogue One into something of his own vision. He described the new movie as a mix between the classic language of George Lucas’ Star Wars films and something “a bit more contemporary” – a blend he said audiences won't be jarred by. While neither Edwards nor Kennedy spoke about the reshoots the film recently underwent, his comments sound like the film has maintained the independent vision the Godzilla filmmaker initially had in mind. To him, the making of the Star Wars franchise is like multiple film crews operating in various universes.
George is on Tatooine with his camera crew. We’re on our planets with our camera crew. And theres other filmmakers on other planets with their camera crews. We’re not going to see those films for a while, but everyone’s making their movies. They all have their own little style and voice.
Based on the film’s first official trailer and the teaser I saw today (which was action-packed, full of explosions, fight sequences, and features new Jyn Erso dialogue), Rogue One does look like a different beast compared to the previous films. The director has previously described Saving Private Ryan as one of his inspirations, a film he named dropped while talking to us today, and based on the teaser alone I can definitely see the connections. We may not know how exactly the new tone of Rogue One will feel within the larger franchise, but I’m definitely excited to find out. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens December 16.