THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY!
Reshoot. Based on how inflammatory some stories are written and how often people respond to them with mass panic, you would swear that “reshoot” is the biggest, nastiest pejorative there is in Hollywood. But here’s the thing: For as long as people have been shooting movies, they’ve also been reshooting them. And yes, while sometimes reshoots happen because a movie is a mess or some studio execs decide they need to dabble, just as often its simply because a filmmaker’s first idea is not his best idea and he/she only thinks of a better one later.
This appears to be the case when it comes to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a film whose extensive reshoots set the geek portion of the internet ablaze when it was reported on last year. But guess what? Those reshoots were a good thing. A really, really good thing. Besides for reworking several character beats (Jyn didn’t have the earlier prison break introduction, and was also a lot more standoffish and abrasive) and rejiggering the flow of the film’s final battle, there was one scene that actually only came into play much later. And if you ask me, it’s one of the greatest scenes in Star Wars history.
I am of course referring to that Darth Vader scene: Jyn manages to beam the Death Star plans to a ship in orbit, where the drive containing these plans are frantically passed along right as Darth Vader boards the ship… and then unleashes Dark Side hell as he systematically mows down a corridor of unfortunate rebels who are futilely trying to stop him. It’s Vader more badass than we’ve ever seen him in the movies, eliciting a genuine sense of shrieking terror from his victims as he cuts them down in an unstoppable flurry of lightsaber slashes, force chokes and deflected laser bolts. Of course the rebels manage to (BARELY!) get the plans out to a docked ship which happens to have a young Leia aboard, but still those few minutes preceding it is just an incredible moment for Star Wars’ greatest character.
And chatting to Yahoo, screenwriter John Gilroy, who along with his brother Tony Gilroy were brought in to help director Gareth Edwards coordinate the reshoots, revealed that while the initial plan was always going to be showing her the plans ended up in Leia’s possession, they added in the whole Darth Vader slaughter much later.
“As far as I know that was always the plan… the main structure was there…”
“What was added — and it was a fantastic add — was the Vader action scene, with him boarding the ship and dispatching all those rebel soldiers. That was something conceptualized a little later.”
Some of Vader’s earlier scenes, including one that was shown in the earlier trailers but didn’t make the final cut, were also retooled to allow this to the Sith Lord’s big moment in the movie. Spencer Wilding was the actor who had played Vader in those earlier scenes, but with the eleventh hour nature of the reshoot resulting in him not being available, another actor, Daniel Naprous, had to be brought in to don the iconic suit and helmet. And it was totally worth it to showcase “Vader at the height of his villainous powers”
“It was a really great punch in the arm and something I think fans wanted to see.”
Along with that scene, we also got to see Vader’s home base: an ominous castle perched on a lava flow on a craggy planet (Talk about dramatic!). Hardcore fans would know that this castle was actually based on the legendary Ralph McQuarrie’s designs for Empire Strikes Back which never made it into that film.
Those same fans would also know that this planet is Mustafar, the very site of the battle between young Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in which Anakin was grievously mutated and subsequently transformed into Darth Vader by the Emperor to keep him alive. Not that Rogue One actually told you this as there was never any title card identifying the planet.
“We had one on for a little while, but what we realized was Star Wars fans — true Star Wars fans — if they saw the name, would know exactly what they were going to see. And we wanted it to be a bit of a surprise, so we decided to not put the title on so Star Wars fans could be surprised along with people who were not initiated to where Mustafar was.”
What did you think of these Darth Vader moments?