Ben Mendelsohn on Shooting “Enormously Different” Versions of ‘Rogue One’

     December 28, 2016

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Before Rogue One was in theaters, Disney held a huge press junket for the film in San Francisco. Unlike Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where we interviewed the cast without seeing anything but the trailers, Disney showed us almost thirty minutes of the film at Skywalker Ranch so reporters could learn more about the story and new characters since Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. Like I said on Twitter and during a Facebook Live chat (which you can watch here), the footage was fantastic and left all of us wanting more.

What I loved about the footage and film is that even though Rogue One takes place before the events of Episode IV, it feels completely unique and original. It looks and feels like a war movie that happens to take place in the Star Wars universe. In the footage, we saw plenty of scenes showing how the Empire is trying to take control of the universe and the brutality that happens when you try and resist. Part of the reason it feels like a war movie is because that’s what director Gareth Edwards set out to make. As you can see him explain in this interview, he shot Rogue One like a documentary embedded in a war zone. And after seeing the footage, I can say he succeeded.

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Image via Lucasfilm

During my print interview with Ben Mendelsohn he talked about how he landed the role, if the story changed compared to what he was told going in, how they would shoot different versions of the same scene to give Gareth Edwards choices in the editing room, what it’s been like working for Steven Spielberg on Ready Player One, Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, and a lot more.

If you’d like to know what people thought about Rogue One after the world premiere Saturday night in Hollywood, click here. You can also click here for Matt’s review. And if you missed my video interviews with Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn, Felicity Jones, or Diego Luna, click the links.

COLIIDER: How are you doing?

BEN MENDELSOHN: I’m good. I’m a bot bamboozled, but I’m actually doing better today than yesterday.

Jumping on in, how did you get into Rogue One? Did they come to you?

MENDELSOHN: Yeah, Gareth [Edwards] did.

Was it one of these things where he discussed the character with you or did he show you a script?

MENDELSOHN: No, he discussed the character and told me the story. And then there was a period of months that went by with nothing, then it became more formalized and then I think –I can’t remember the first time what happened with the actual script itself. I mean, I know there was a bunch of things that had to be signed and stuff. I don’t remember if I had to go to Disney and read it there or something, the first time. But yeah, that’s how it came to be anyway.

I’m curious, from what he told you that day to what people are seeing on screen, is it very similar to what he pitched you?

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Image via Lucasfilm

MENDELSOHN: In terms of the overall swoop, yeah, very much. I think that Krennic developed sort of along as we went, he had different ideas. And he settled yet on exactly –He was still thinking of a couple of variations in a lot of things at that stage. If you want to talk about alternative takes on things, there’s been quite a few different renderings of this within Gareth’s mind, and I dare say some of it’s been captured on film. So there are different renderings.

I heard from a lot of the people I’ve spoken to –and I could be wrong– that when you shot it they would sort of play it multiple ways on set, so that way in the editing room…

MENDELSOHN: Yep, absolutely, very much. We did have multiple, multiple ways of going at any given scenario, we had multiple readings of it. So should they ever decided to, there would be a wealth of ways of approaching these different things. And I know from having seen sort of the crucial kind of scenes throughout it, I know there’s vastly different readings of at least four of those scenes.

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