Movies go though a lot of changes, but any changes made to a “Star Wars” movie are always fun to delve into, and “Rogue One” has a lot of them.
Leading up to its release and following it, the changes that were made during the film’s reshoots were reported at a rapid pace.
Now, with its Blu-ray release on April 4, there’s been another press tour by the creatives behind the movie, and Entertainment Weekly got one of the screenwriters to dish a little about one of its endings in the early days of developing “Rogue One,” specifically how it would have ended if Disney wouldn’t have let them kill off the entire cast.
The ending that director Gareth Edwards, Disney, and Lucasfilm decided on was one where Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), K-2SO (Alan Tudky) and the rest of their rag-tag group steal the plans for the Death Star while on the tropical planet Scarif, eventually relaying the blueprints to the Rebel Alliance but ultimately perishing in the process.
“The original instinct was that they should all die,” screenwriter Gary Whitta told EW. “It’s worth it. If you’re going to give your life for anything, give your life for this, to destroy a weapon that’s going to kill you all anyway. That’s what we always wanted to do. But we never explored it because we were afraid that Disney might not let us do it, that Disney might think it’s too dark for a Star Wars movie or for their brand.”
So before Whitta and John Knoll — another “Rogue One” screenwriter in the early days — talked to Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy about the need for an ending where no one survived, they came up with a “happy ending.”
According to Whitt, in an early version, the ending had Jyn and Cassian escape Scarif with the Death Star plans as a rebel ship picks them up while they are on the beach. As the ship carrying Jyn and Cassian is being chased by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer, the plans are transferred to Princess Leia’s ship. Vader eventually destroys the Jyn/Cassian ship and then chases Leia’s ship, which is where “Star Wars: A New Hope” opens.
But then we discover that Jyn and Cassian were able to get away in an escape pod just before Vader destroyed the ship they were on.
However, no one liked this ending.
“The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult,” said Whitta. “We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif,] and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top.”
And if the “happy ending” was used, we would have never gotten that great Darth Vader fight scene at the end.