As part of the Rogue One Press Junket we interviewed the director Gareth Edwards. If you’ve been reading all my other interviews you’ll notice that everyone enjoyed working with Gareth and the flexibility he gave everyone in their roles. Before we get into the interview details I wanted to first explain how he was chosen by Kathleen Kennedy as the director of Rogue One a Star Wars Story. Kathleen loved his camera work in Godzilla, they liked how he had a unique shooting style that utilizes intimate, handheld camera work.
Kennedy says, “Gareth has that wonderful combination that is uniquely suited to Star Wars ﬁlms, which is an emotional understanding of the characters inside the Star Wars universe and a sense of what is a strong family-type ﬁlm that appeals to all ages. Gareth has a unique ability to combine a sense of humor with thematic storytelling.”
So now he got the part of being the director of such a fantastic franchise it was time to freak out. In his first interview question he was asked how he would have prepared if he had known his whole life that he was one day going to do this and basically he said he would have just spent that entire time freaking out and trying to prepare when at the end of the day it was the “organic process of making a film, and working with others” that worked in the end. And I know that’s true because each actor said they felt that the process was completely collaborative. So for him to do that he had to get the right cast. He had to find actors that were talented enough to be given that freedom, so what was his casting process….
You try not to think of anyone to start with, ’cause you try and think these characters. And then it’s really difficult to keep talking about someone, and not being able to visually picture them. And inevitably, you end up going you know, like so and so. And sometimes they’re like, a character from a film. You know, like so and so from that movie. Or this, this person. And you start to take on, like, specific people in the world. I know definitely for things like Saw Gerrera and Krennic.
Ben Mendelsohn and Forrest Whitaker, like, just popped up straight away. I’ve seen Ben’s work. And as we were trying to figure out this character that was starting to happen called Krennic that he plays, I loved Animal Kingdom. I thought it was one of the best films in a long time. And then forgot about it. And then watched a film called Startup. And 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. And as I came into work, I was already gonna pitch this to the producer. I’m gonna try and sort them into it. And as I walked into the office, which is right here, (in Lucasfilm) Simon, one of the producers, went, can I just stop you a second?
I went, “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. And I was, like… I was about to say, Ben Mendelsohn… It was weird. Like, genuinely weird. And then from that point on, we were not gonna take no for an answer. And thank God Ben’s a massive Star Wars fan. And I met him on a rooftop in LA, which sounds glamorous, but it was raining. And, we’d already organized to meet there, so we did. And we wanted to be away so no one could hear so that you could talk. I would get really paranoid about waiters and things, ’cause, you know, once you say the word, like, Darth Vader or something, they’re gonna pay attention. As soon as I talked about Star Wars, he was just giggling and going, like, hehe hehe. And I was, like, you’re a fan? He’s, like, I love it! I watched it all the time as a kid; it’s why I got into films. And so I was thinking, okay, we might be all right. And, and same with Forrest.
He is not his character, but he has done amazing work outside of acting. He’s a phenomenal human being. And I think just before we met, he’d just done a talk at the United Nations. And you sort of feeling, like, oh my god. I don’t really deserve to be talking to this guy about a role in a film because he’s the real deal. He’s incredibly humble and peaceful. But you see him in his roles, and he can be intimidating and aggressive. But he’s more like Yoda when you chat with him. And in a way, Saul was a little bit like, you know, the mentor in our movie. So he’s like the Obi-Wan sort of Yoda-type figure. And so it made a lot of sense.
I 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.”.
We also had to know how it felt making a part of the story that’s arguably one of the most, if not the most, important events in the Star Wars canon? Because without those plans, the Death Star just destroys everything.
It feels like probably what the characters feel like in that we know. It was an impossible mission really. It was like something you’re not supposed to succeed at, or survive. Try and make a good, or great Star Wars film, or something that lives up to those masterpieces I grew up with; it is, like, nearly impossible. We became a band of rebels making the film, and we were rebellious! We did things we weren’t supposed to do. There’s a set way of making these big movies. Say the shoot was 10 hours long, or something, one day. The last hour was like a playground. And so we’d get what we needed for the scene. Then for last hour it’s like… okay, do whatever you want. And so we would just play around.
A lot of the stuff that was in the trailer came from things like that. Like the picture of Krennic in the white cape, and he’s sort of stood looking with the big blue sphere behind him. The planet and the Death Star. That was just messing around. Like, okay, we did this scene, but we never said cut. And we went on for another 40 minutes. And we would just whisper things to Ben and to the actors and move the camera around. Everyone’s like, well, where’s it gonna be in the film? And you think, oh, I don’t know! It just looked good. And, and then the trailers come in, and Disney shows you this is what we’re thinking for the trailer. And these shots start turning up. You go, oh, cool! See? We did that.
So today is the day that you can see all Gareth’s work alive on the big screen and everything I’ve seen and read about says that this movie is amazing. It’s the perfect movie to “try out” if you for some strange reason aren’t a Star Wars fan. It’s a stand alone movie about new characters yet still centers around family. This story is a father daughter story inside the story of saving the galaxy.