Star Wars: Rogue One Director Gareth Edwards on Deleted Scenes Used for Rebel Pilots

Warning: Potential spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ahead.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story risked wearing out the box-office welcome of a beloved franchise, yielding enormous rewards this past weekend with a $155 million domestic take, totaling $290.5 million globally. Given its place in the Star Wars timeline, it was expected that Rogue One would be rocking surprise callback cameos from 1977’s A New Hope. While controversial digital techniques were responsible for some, a few of those cameos came from the original film’s shoot and Rogue One director Gareth Edwards explains how that happened.

The culminating battle of Rogue One pitted the Rebel fleet engaged in a devastating dogfight against the Imperial fleet and the approaching Death Star around the shield-protected planet Scarif on which Jyn Erso and the Rogue One team were infiltrating an Imperial complex containing the orbiting destructor’s plans. Since Rogue One is essentially a preamble to A New Hope, it was natural that some of the Rebel pilots serve as familiar faces. Indeed, we saw Red Squadron leader Garven Dreis and Gold Squadron leader Jon “Dutch” Vander in their cockpits engaged in the space conflagration around Scarif. As Gareth Edwards tells RadioTimes, their presence in the film was the result of a happy accident:

“We went to Skywalker ranch, and there’s the archives there. And as we’re walking around, and doing all the cool things and looking at the Millennium Falcon and trying on Han Solo’s jacket and things like that, in the back at the bottom was all these cans of film. And we said ‘what are they?’ and they said ‘Oh, it’s Star Wars.’ And you go… ‘has someone gone through all this? And it’s like ‘not really, they’re not fully like digitized at all.’”

The serendipitous session of fanboy goofing ended up yielding one of Rogue One’s most fan-friendly cameos with 40-year-old deleted footage from A New Hope of key Rebel pilots. Edwards and company would repurpose that footage seamlessly for Rogue’s Battle of Scarif, turning back time uncannily with unmistakable characters from the original film appearing in 2016 as they originally did in 1977. Edwards continues:

“We got the neg documents and found the clips from A New Hope that hadn’t been used. And there’s pilot photography and lines that were never featured in A New Hope. Through the magic of ILM [special effect studio Industrial Light and Magic] they cut round them and manipulated them and stuck them into our cockpits.”

However, besides the film’s eventual financial success, Rogue One’s callback cameos – including the divisive digital representations of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and Carrie Fisher’s young Princess Leia – seemed to generally resonate with audiences, validating his creative choice. As Edwards explains:

“It’s the sort of thing you think, ‘how many people will notice?’ Do you know what I mean? It’s like, is this a lot of effort for very little reward? At the world premiere in LA, there was this massive cheer at a particular point in the film. It was the only time during the premiere where I actually punched the air.”

Garven Dreis, played by Drewe Henley, was the X-Wing pilot who led the attack on the Death Star as it orbited the Rebel base on planet Yavin 4, famously shot down by Darth Vader after failing to hit the thermal exhaust port. He may be best remembered prior to the battle questioning Luke Skywalker’s qualifications to join the squadron, at which point his old buddy Biggs vouched for him as “the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim territories.”

Jon “Dutch” Vander, played by Angus MacInnes, was a Y-Ying pilot also destined to become a casualty claimed by Vader in the Death Star attack. Interestingly, his Rogue One cameo arguably complements his character, since he was notably seen in A New Hope incredulously asking of the plans to attack the Death Star, “what good are snub-fighters going to be against that?” With some key context provided, it seems that Vander’s apprehension was the result of firsthand experience with the Death Star’s overwhelming, planet destroying power.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is out at theaters now, utilizing a sensational mix of nostalgia and modernity that’s sharp enough to bullseye womp rats from the cockpit of a T-16.

Published at Mon, 19 Dec 2016 23:54:00 +0000

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