‘Rogue One’ Began as ‘Star Wars’ Live-Action TV Concept
The dream of a live-action Star Wars TV series gets a little bit further with each successful film, but some of the prior small-screen efforts bore surprising fruit. As it turns out, the concept for Rogue One initially began with the post-Revenge of the Sith TV series, as revealed by ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll.
As Knoll tells Comic Book Resources, the idea for Rogue One began in 2003 at the time Lucasfilm was beginning to look beyond Revenge of the Sith to a potential live-action TV franchise. A great deal of Knoll’s initial vision would wind up re-shaped in the Rogue One film development, though it seems the concept wasn’t a fit for TV regardless:
The first inklings of trying to tell that story happened in Summer 2003 when we were shooting on “Episode III” in Sydney. I had heard that Lucasfilm was developing stories for a potential live action TV series, and they were active in story development at the time. That was kind of intriguing, and I started thinking about, “What would be a fun thing to do as a one-hour episode as a live action ‘Star Wars’ TV show?”
One thought was, “What about a ‘Mission Impossible’-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans? There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!” I started tinkering with this idea internally. Then a day or two later, I asked Rick [McCallum], I heard you were developing this TV show. He started telling me about the era that it takes place in, and the themes of the show. As soon as he started going into that, I realized, actually, that idea has no place in that show, so I just dropped it completely.
Past reports of a live-action Star Wars TV series (most commonly titled Star Wars: Underworld) were seemingly set on Coruscant between trilogies, while another report suggested the project might have humanized Emperor Palpatine in some manner. Depending on which vision McCallum laid out to Knoll, it might stand to reason why a Rebel-heavy story so close to A New Hope might not fit.
We’ll keep a candle lit for live-action TV Star Wars in this galaxy, but what other far, far concepts might work on the small screen?