One of the most memorable moments in Rogue One comes right at the end when Darth Vader — fed up with those feisty rebels — attempts to make sure the Death Star plans do not make it into their hands by physically boarding their ship and going full Vader on a group of poor rebels. One thing we didn’t know about that moment is it almost never happened.
In fact, it was shot four months before the film hit theaters.
While discussing Rogue One with director Gareth Edwards in support of the film’s digital (March 24) and Blu-ray release (April 4), he broke down that entire sequence, revealing how it was an idea editor Jabbez Olssen had while they were cutting the film. According to Edwards, in the original version, Vader never boards the rebel ship.
“He arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then Jabez was like, ‘I think we need to get Darth on that ship,’ and I thought, yeah, that’s a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there’s no way they’re going to let us do it. It’s a big number and we had, what, like 3 or 4 months before release. Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f*ck it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two we were at Pinewood shooting that scene.”
Edwards continued, “Because it was my last chance to do Star Wars, and because you know it’s the end, we really were very careful with it. We storyboarded absolutely everything and tried to have no regrets.”
The sequence that scene connects to is the one featuring Gareth Edwards’ cameo, as he is the one who runs around and pulls the lever, disconnecting Tantive IV from Admiral Raddus’ ship. “That sequence was shot five months earlier, so we had to connect Darth Vader’s moment to that. And another fun fact is the guy who says “launch,” that actor’s name is Christopher Nolan. So whenever someone said Christopher Nolan was on set, it was that guy, but everyone thought it was the director. We had a lot of fun with that.”
To Edwards, the Vader moment was a natural idea that it didn’t seem to him like it’d be that big of a deal. “It’s funny, if you would’ve asked me what are the top five scenes in this film that people will talk to you about when it’s over, I might not put Darth Vader’s scene in there,” he adds. “It just felt right; it felt like the right thing to do. It really is just the greatest hits of Darth; that corridor. And we really didn’t want to do anything you haven’t seen him do so it didn’t throw people off. We kept it to what had been established.
Edwards, who calls the scene “The Walk of Death,” says he asked the stunt guys to go away and come up with everything they could think of. “They came up with a whole shopping list of ideas. 70% we used, and maybe 30% felt a little too extreme. They were things you hadn’t seen him do before, and I wanted to stick to what Darth does in the original trilogy.”
We’ll have much more with Edwards as we approach the release of Rogue One on digital and Blu-ray.