Rogue One is in theaters NOW! I saw it with the boys last night and we all loved it (we’ll be seeing it again). I got to see 28 minutes of Rogue One (at Skywalker Ranch of all places) a few weeks ago but I waited to see the entire film with the boys. I have to say interviewing cast and the Director Gareth Edwards (who I’m featuring today) makes the movie that much better and more special. I hope you feel the same way!
Gareth had actually talked to our group the night before, just before our screening and you could hear the excitement in his voice as we were sitting in the very theater that George Lucas sat in to view Star Wars.
Rogue One Gareth Edwards Interview
I saw a featurette that said if you had known you were gonna direct this movie, you would have prepared for it your whole life. What is something you would have done to prepare for this film?
“I probably would have, every single day been an nervous wreck, and not do any homework or schoolwork, and I probably would never have had a job, and I would have sat and prepared it for 30 odd years. And then the day it began, I think I would have brought in everything saying okay, I know exactly what to do. It starts off with this shot, and then becomes this shot. And then I realize I would have wasted my entire life. There’s something about the organic process of making a film, and working with others. Like, a dictatorship, like the Empire, and you say it’s gonna be this, this, and this, I don’t care what I see, I don’t care what the actors do. This is what it’s gonna be, I think you limit how great the film can become. It was much more of an organic process where even when we were filming, the director of photography, the guy in charge of the camera, we had an agreement that even though it was a massive, massive movie, and there’s all this pressure to have a specific plan, we were gonna keep it incredibly fluid. And so we had 360 degree sets where we could, film in any direction. And I remember on day 1 in this, in this one set called Jedha, which is one of the cities that we go through where the force believers are, we started filming, and the actors could do what they want. And I just happened to pan left or something. And there suddenly was all this crew in shot that suddenly ran out of frame, scared. And then the next day we came the same sort of thing happened where I pan left. And the crew were there. But this time they’re all wearing Star Wars costumes. And so they’d all learned to put robes on and that way, wherever the camera went, they could be in it if they had to be, and they secretly loved that. There would be days where they would turn up with rebel outfits, like rebel pilots. And you’re going, why are you wearing that? Well, in case you film us. And it’s like, I’m not shooting that way. And they’re like, well, it doesn’t matter. You know, just in case.”
How difficult, or intimidating, was it to tackle a property like Star Wars knowing that the rabid fan base will scrutinize every word and action?
I grew up watching it every day. It’s the reason I got into filmmaking. There’s a line in the original where Luke Skywalker is doing the attack run on the Death Star through the trench. And he’s got the computer, and he turns it off, and it [makes a noise]. And someone ways, Luke! You’ve turned off your computer! And he says, it’s okay, I’m all right.
It’s kinda like that. He trusts the force. So literally, you turn off your computer and not look at the internet. Just believe that you can bulls eye this. You’ve just got to keep going! Just believe in yourself, and then go for it.
To me, that’s the takeaway from the original film, if you believe you can do something, and you never give up, then you can achieve anything.
How did you go about choosing your cast?
What happens is, you try not to think of anyone to start with, Then it gets really difficult to keep talking about someone, and not being able to visually picture them. Like Ben and Forrest 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 thought] this guy is Krennic. We’ve got to try and get him. And as I came into work, I was already pitching this to the producer. I’m gonna try and sort them into it. And as I walked into the office, Simon, one of the producers, asked, can I just stop you a second?
I said, I want to talk to you about Krennic. He says, I’ve got the guy…Ben Mendelsohn. And I was, like… I was about to say Ben Mendelsohn… It was really weird, genuinely weird. And then from that point on, we were not gonna take no for an answer. Thank god Ben’s a massive Star Wars fan. I met him on a rooftop in LA, which sounds really 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 we could talk. I would get really paranoid about waiters and things, ‘cause, you know, once you say the word, Darth Vader or something they’re gonna pay attention. As soon as I talked about Star Wars, he was just giggling and [telling me he was a fan]. And same with Forrest.
Tell us how you got your foot in the door to become a Star Wars Director.
I’m not really sure how that bit happened. But I think the big break for me… There was two. I went to film school. I wanted to make films. That’s all I ever wanted to do as a kid. And graduated. I’d read all the Steven Spielberg stores of how you, you make a short film, Hollywood calls and then you go off directing movies. I think they lost my number? ‘Cause I never got that call. I worked in a supermarket. And tried to earn some money to buy a computer so I could learn software. It felt like this was gonna be the future of filmmaking. That digital technology. I thought you could make a film from home on a home computer and I just needed six months and I could learn the software to go make one. It took me more like ten years to learn it and be any good. I had spent that time doing visual effects for things like the BBC and discovery channel. One day I just thought, I’ve had enough. I can’t live with myself being an old man, having never tried to do what I really wanted to do, which was become a director. And so I quit my job and with this company in England, they give us some money, and made a film where there was just five of us traveling around Central America. I did all the visual effects myself, and shot it. Then I thought what needs to take place after this for it to be worthwhile? ‘Cause it was about two years of your life. And I said, if I get to direct a TV show that would be it.
And then we showed it at South by Southwest. The projection broke down and then at the end of the thing, this guy comes up to me and he gives me a business card. He says I’d love to talk to you whenever you’ve got a moment. I was, like, okay. And we left. And then the next day, as if by magic, he turned up. He just found me somehow. He said can I just talk to you for a second when you’ve got a moment? He said ’I’m from an agency in Hollywood, and I represent directors, and I’d like to represent you.’ And I said oh, okay. And then he said, do you want to know who else I represent? And he says I’m with Quinton Tarantino and Tim Burton, and…
From that day on, my life changed. You don’t need to know anything about Hollywood. You just need to make a film, and then these people exist. A few months later I was off at Godzilla, and things like that. I don’t know how it really works. I think if I had my life again it wouldn’t happen the same way.
It’s evident that you really put a lot of detail in there from the original movies (like blue milk). Did you actually get to use any props from the first trilogy?
What’s so funny is, obviously they never anticipated that Star Wars would become this when they made it. So there’s sometimes not a record of what an object is. I remember on a rebel planet, there’s a guy as the Millennium Falcon comes in, he sort of follows it, with this speed gun or something. I assume it’s a speed gun. He’s not gonna shoot at the Millennium Falcon. We were calling up the art department and they would have no record of what that object he’s holding is. So we called the guy that’s originally in the bucket and asked him if he remembered what that was. He said, oh yeah! We didn’t have anything so we grabbed a light meter for the camera and something else and we taped it together, and I just held it. We just wanted to get those objects and do exactly the same thing. And he just wasn’t sure. So we kinda looked at it in high res, and tried to replicate it.
And with blue milk… I’ve got a confession. I’m a massive Star Wars fan obviously. For my 30th birthday, I went to Tunisia, and woke up on the day I turned 30 in Luke Skywalker’s house. Not by accident, 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 [Luke] 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 it’s this cinema history. And then I was, like, well, you kinda left your mark, you know.
Can you tell us if there’s any storm trooper cameos?
There are cameos in the film. Do you have the show Top Gear over here? Well, it airs from BBC we were doing one scene, and someone said, you knew the guy in the stormtrooper on the left there? You know Stig from Top Gear, the driver that does all the laps, the white helmeted guy… That’s him.
There are cameos in the movie. I get a cameo, and I can’t tell you what it is because it will spoil things, but it was a dream come true. Everybody wants to have a cameo.
How does it feel to be telling 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 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, is nearly impossible. We became a band of rebels making the film and we were rebellious!
You can see Rogue One is playing NOW so grab your tickets and go see it!
I attended the #RogueOneEvent #StarWarsRebelsEvent #MickeyRacersEvent #PinocchioBluray as press. Opinions expressed are my own.