This week we’ve been learning a lot about how Gareth Edward’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story could have turned out – from its original ‘happy’ ending to Orson Krennic’s death at the hands of Darth Vader – and now we’ve learnt of another discarded idea thanks to Entertainment Weekly. In an early draft of the story, the prologue to the film would have revealed Jyn Erso’s mother, Lyra, was in fact a Jedi in hiding.
“The prologue, at one point a long time ago, was going to be the Empire coming to kill the Jedi,” Edwards said. “And Jyn’s mom was going to be a Jedi. We were witnessing one of those kills and Krennic would be the person sent to do it.”
After the events of Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, only a handful of Jedi managed to escape the mass executions across the galaxy, with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, The Clone Wars‘ Ahsoka Tano and Rebels‘ Kanan Jarus among them, but the Empire continued to hunt down any survivors.
This would’ve explained at first why Lyra had a Kyber crystal in her possession. The crystals are what powers the lightsabers and are ultimately mined by the Empire to power the Death Star’s main weapon. The idea was discarded, however, because they wanted the audience to focus on Jyn herself and not the possibility that she too could be a Jedi.
“Our instinct told us that we wanted a scene where Jyn is orphaned because of what Krennic does, which sets her on her path of being a child of war,” said Edwards. “The problem was that the second you make her mom a Jedi you spend the entire movie questioning whether Jyn is a Jedi or not. Eventually, we came up with the idea that her father should have designed the Death Star. That became a stronger way into the stealing of the Death Star plans. We let go of the mother being a Jedi, and she became just a rebellious mom.”
Screenwriter Gary Whitta went into a bit more detail about how and why this idea was scrapped, saying: “Her mother was a Jedi Knight who was hiding out. But her father was still the scientist. We just had to pick a lane. We ended up feeling like her father should be the reason this thing existed. The guilt for that felt like better motivation in stealing the Death Star plans.”
Whitta was initially worried about the lack of Jedi presence in the film: “This would be the first Star Wars film that did not have a Jedi factor. I was concerned about it for a while. They are basically extinct. There are two left and they’re in hiding. You’re not going to see a Jedi in this film. How do we still get some element of the fact that the Force hasn’t gone anywhere? That it’s just in the background?”
That’s how the character of Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, originated. Whitta credited fellow screenwriter Chris Weitz with the idea: “He came on and had this great idea of bringing in the Guardians of the Whills. The movie addressed it in just the right way. The character that feels the Force is a believer, and he has that faith-based spiritual element but isn’t actually a Jedi knight.”
Rogue One will get its digital HD release this Friday while its Blu-ray release is scheduled for April 4th in the U.S. and April 10th in the UK.
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story sees Gareth Edwards (Monsters) directing a cast that includes Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Diego Luna (Milk), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), Jiang Wen (Let the Bullets Fly), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Alan Tudyk (Con Man), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Genevieve O’Reilly (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), Jimmy Smits (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones), James Earl Jones (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope), Valene Kane (The Fall), Alistair Petrie (The Night Manager), Warwick Davis (Star Wars: Episode IV – Return of the Jedi), Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones) and Jonathan Aris (Sherlock).