It’s been a few years since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released and still, after all this time, even more behind-the-scenes information is being revealed about the first Star Wars spinoff movie.
In the latest installment of IGN’s Watch From Home Theater series, Rogue One screenwriters Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz came on to discuss their Star Wars feature. While the pair have been candid in the past about changes they made to Rogue One, including the alternate ending they once envisioned, it seems like the duo were holding out on us. Why? Because they had even more new insights into the evolution of Rogue One to share with IGN. The first big reveal from Whitta and Weitz is the alternate title they toyed with at one point (via Comicbook), sharing, “Rogue One was a good choice eventually, but one of them was Dark Times,” and Shadow of the Death Star, with Whitta then going on to explain:
“One of the things that occurred to me, I went back and looked to all the previous films, and this continues to be true even with the sequel trilogy now being completed, the titles of Star Wars Saga films are always either three words or four words long. They just all are. So it occurred to me that one of the ways we could differentiate this movie from the rest is we had a title that was only one word or two words long. So like Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars: Rogue One, let’s do a title that’s shorter so that even from the title of the movie you know this is something that doesn’t necessarily conform to the unwritten rules of the Saga films.”
As reported by The Playlist, Whitta also teased that he wrote an opening crawl for Rogue One, as is tradition with official Skywalker saga films, sharing, “You’ll never see it but I did. I wrote more than one. Back when we were still experimenting with the idea of maybe doing one,” and going on to explain why the crawl was sacrificed: “But one of the things that we arrived at fairly early on in the process is that it was OK to liberate ourselves from the traditional storytelling language of Star Wars.”
Another big set of changes involved Rogue One‘s two leads, Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, played by Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, respectively. At one point in the writing process, Whitta revealed “Jyn was already a Rebel soldier,” and continued, “We toyed with various other possibilities — that she was a deserter, that she was a Rey-like scavenger, but obviously you can’t do that once you learn what the other hand of the Star Wars universe is doing.”
As for Cassian, Weitz shared that “he was always meant to be compromised. In Gary and my versions, he was severely compromised…” before Whitta added that “he was a double agent,” and continued, “In a very, very early version of this, he was a Rebel soldier who was secretly working for Krennic. He has a change of heart and flips to the Rebel side, but that’s after he’s exposed as a spy. And at that point in the third act, he kind of has to win Jyn’s trust back.”
For my money, Rogue One is one of the best Star Wars movies of all time (fight me, dudes), so all of the changes made in these key aspects are pretty groovy with me. Sure, I think it’s be cool to refer to this movie as Shadow of the Death Star or maybe see how it would’ve played out if Cassian was a double agent; who wouldn’t? But the finished product we saw in theaters back in December 2016 still holds up and that’s thanks to the changes Weitz and Whitta made.
For more, check out our latest on the documentary about Disney+ series The Mandalorian and key casting news for the upcoming Disney+ Rogue One series.