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Gareth Edward on the Original Ending to ‘Rogue One’ and How Vader Changed Everything

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney/ Lucasfilm

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a huge success, and was a big risk for Disney. One of the most successful parts of the story is the film’s third act, more importantly the last 10 minutes of the film. The end of the film was almost very different, and just month’s before the theatrical release, changes were made that would become the talking point of the film.

The final act of the film (the Scarif battle scene) went through major reworking during production. During SXSW last week, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards sat down with Slashfilm and finally opened up about the changes made to the end of the film:

“I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower.

In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there.

That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney/ Lucasfilm
Images: Disney/ Lucasfilm

There were numerous cuts to the final film, but one key addition was the Darth Vader boarding scene. In an interview with Fandango, Edwards says that in the first cut of the film, the Sith Lord never boarded 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–k it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two we were at Pinewood shooting that scene. [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…

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.”

All of the changes made were for the best, Rogue One was the perfect union of original trilogy and new story. It was a swan song, giving Vader the power and might that struck fear in the Rebellion. We saw his raw power as a Sith Lord, and this was exactly what fans needed. After viewing the final scenes of Rogue One, you will not question why the Rebels were so afraid of Darth Vader.

Did you like the end of Rogue One?

Star Wars: Rogue One, Disney
AT-AT’s storm a beach in the trailer for ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’. Image: Disney
Brad Repka
I am an avid lover of all things Movies, TV, Games, and delicious other randomness. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comment!