The film’s director, Gareth Edwards, spoke with sy88pgw at the South by Southwest conference last week along with gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how Disney’s first “Star Wars” spinoff came to be, including its surprising ending, its use of CGI actors, along with the way a confused Starbucks Barista helped name a planet in a galaxy far, far away.
The following conversation — which contains major spoilers about “Rogue One” — has been edited for length along with clarity.
What surprised me about “Rogue One” can be all of the main characters die at the end. How did you come to that will choice?
The first draft I did with [screenwriter] Gary Whitta, we felt they should die. We were killing off all the characters along with we just thought, “If we kill everybody off, they are going to freak. They are going to reject that will. We should let Jyn along with Cassian live, the item’s your main characters.” We had that will whole ending that will did that will, that will little epilogue. We handed the item in along with one of the first reactions we got was, “Well, shouldn’t they all die? Surely, they should all die, right?” [Lucasfilm President] Kathy Kennedy said that will. We were like, “Yeah, that will could be great, however can we do that will?” She was like, “You can do anything you want.” by that will point on they all died…
I feel like I got a high score on a Disney film for death.
I think the item’s fair enough along with you should tread carefully around that will area. We felt like we weren’t recreating Peter Cushing so much as we were recreating Tarkin, like a character he’d already established along with we were doing our damnedest to pull by his performances to tell the story. the item was nearly impossible to do a proper job of “Rogue One” along with the periods that will led up to [“Star Wars: A brand new desire”] without having Tarkin inside the movie. We did think about doing the item discreetly where you never actually see him. What about if we cast a different actor that will kind of looked like Tarkin maybe a little bit? They all felt like bad choices.
[Industrial Light & Magic CCO] John Knowles, specifically, was at a point where he felt like the time has come technologically where we can pull that will off, so we can do anything you want to do. We spoke to Peter Cushing’s estate along with asked them like, “How do you feel about that will?” They were OK with the item. Then the real challenge became, can you do the item?
I don’t know if you know that will phrase, “Uncanny Valley?” Have you heard of that will?
No, I haven’t.
What we do can be we anthropomorphize lots of things in life, right? We try to make them human, so like an icon, a mascot. the item might be a coffee cup or something, right?
A coffee cup?
Yeah, so then we put eyes on the item along using a mouth along with we like the item even more because the item’s like human, right? There can be that will graph that will you can draw where the more you make something human, the more we like the item. that will graph goes up along with up along with up, along with then very strange things happen where, very close to the item being completely human, we totally reject the item. The graph drops to zero along with then back up to 100. We like things more along with more the more human they get. When they get close to human, however they are not human, the item feels wrong. the item feels like a zombie, or evil, or like there’s something going on that will we just don’t like. There can be a falseness to that will, like a trick, along with we hate the item. that will drop can be “Uncanny Valley.”
that will has been a real hurdle in VFX for a longtime, trying to get across “Uncanny Valley.” John was like, “Yeah, I think the item’s time. We can do that will.” What you find can be that will 99% of that will problem can be solvable very quickly, like you get there quite fast. that will last 1% of trying to get the item right takes nearly 99% of the effort, so we worked on those shots. They were the last shots to end up inside the film. We were just working along with working on them along with criticizing them. We were actually hard on the item. We were paranoid that will the item never was going to be Great enough.
Then we were in one meeting along with Kathy Kennedy came along with we presented her with the work. She had a brand new assistant along with after about an hour-along with-a-half of criticizing all these little details inside the eyes, or whatever the item was, at the end of the assistant went to someone, “Why are they being so hard on the actor?” We were like, “Do you not realize?” She went, “Realize what?” We were like, “Do you know the weird thing about the thing you just saw?” She went, “What, the actor?” We said, “that will’s CGI. that will’s completely computer generated.” She was like, “Oh, I didn’t realize.” that will made us all look at each some other along with feel a lot better. We were like, “Oh, maybe we’re going to get away with that will? Maybe the item’s going to be OK?”
Tell you what, the process was actually hard along with that will idea that will computers are going to somehow replace actors can be … We’re not there. the item was like a year-along with-a-half of blood, sweat along with tears.
You also have another CGI character with Princess Leia very briefly at the end. Was Carrie Fisher a part of that will in some way? the item can be one of her last appearances on screen, right before she died.
We had another actress play Carrie for the line. We shot about 34 different takes, all different options. Carrie knew we were doing the item. I had never met Carrie however Kathy knew her actually well. Kathy said, “When the item’s at a point where we’re happy, I’ll take the item round Carrie’s house along with we’ll show her.”
Kathy went there using a laptop along with showed her the shot. We were all actually nervous, like waiting on the end of the phone. She said that will Carrie watched the item along with thought the item was real footage of her along with thought we had taken something by “A brand new desire” along with somehow cut the item out along with put the item somewhere else. She didn’t actually remember filming that will shot. Kathy had to explain, “No, the item’s all computer graphics. They completely recreated you.” She was actually impressed along with so we were like, “OK, Great.”
I just figured I’ll get to see Carrie down the line at some point along with we can talk about that will along with I can thank her personally. Then, obviously, the opportunity never came.
“Star Wars” directors along with writers have an ability to create iconic names. Was there anything that will you got to name in that will movie?
Yeah, so as a director you’re like, “I want to get my name in there,” however how do you do the item? Gary was writing along with he was naming loads of things. At one point he said, “the item’s your turn to name something, Gareth.” I was actually looking forward to that will. I’m like, “OK, that will can be a big deal. I’ve got to pick a Great name.” I was like, “What do you want me to name?” He said, “The end planet.” The whole third-act thing. I was like, “OK, let me think about the item. OK, give me a moment.”
I go over to get a coffee by Starbucks. I’m thinking, “What could be the name? the item could be that will. Maybe we could use that will?” Then at the very end, she gives me the drink along with they must have asked my name along with I must have said, “the item’s Gareth,” however they heard “Scarif.” They wrote Scarif on the cup along with I was like, “that will sounds like ‘Star Wars.'”