The Rogue One panel — which was moderated by Captain Phasma herself, Gwendoline Christie — just went down at Star Wars Celebration and things were equal amount awesome and haphazard with everyone’s excitement about the new movie taking over.
Director Gareth Edwards was there to regale the audience (and those of us watching the panel livestreamed who couldn’t make it to London) about taking a gritty, handheld approach to his Star Wars movie by shooting on location in the Maldives and even after hours in London’s Canary Warf Tube Station. Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy was there too, as was chief creative officer John Knoll, who first came up with the idea for Rogue One when prequel producer Rick McCallum was developing a live action Star Wars TV show.
But the biggest news was the cast. The appearances by Felicity Jones (with her own Jyn Erso action figure), Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Jian Wen, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, and Mads Mikkelsen all gave us further insight into the pre-A New Hope plot of Rogue One.
We asked and we received, mostly, when it came to Mads Mikkelsen’s character Galen Erso. It’s been known that he’s obviously Rebel fighter Jyn Erso’s dad, but the real hook was why we haven’t heard anything else substantial about him until now. While he remains a bit of a mystery, the detail that “he invented something so beautiful it could have changed the universe” might mean that he’s the reluctant Robert Oppenheimer type behind the technology co-opted by the Empire to create the planet-destroying Death Star.
Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn made his entrance decked out in his Imperial duds as Director Orson Krennic surrounded by his character’s personal Deathtrooper guards. It was probably the coolest moment of the whole panel. It seems Mendelsohn is still tight-lipped about exactly what Krennic is up to, and we still haven’t even heard his character speak, but he admitted he’s a different kind of villain than we’ve seen in a Star Wars movie before. When asked what kind, he cheekily replied: “An Australian kind.” At least it’s technically true.
We’ve also known that Vader and his shadowy robotic visage will make an appearance at some point in Rogue One, and until we get a look at the new trailer that showcases the Dark Lord of the Sith, the extent of that role will be up in the air. Edwards did confirm that he worked with James Earl Jones in a recording session in New York in December 2015 for the movie.
Whitaker’s character, who was first created under the watch of original Star Wars mastermind George Lucas, fits into the Rogue One timeline befitting the movie’s title. He’s a Rogue Rebel leader, commanding his own faction against the Empire, and he was even trained by the Jedi as seen in The Clone Wars TV series.
Cassian Andor and K-2SO
What many thought would be the Han Solo-esque type in the group actually sounds like he’s a more restrained commander. A costume exhibit at Star Wars Celebration revealed the following:
An accomplished Alliance Intelligence officer with combat field experience, Captain Cassian Andor commands respect from his Rebel troops with his ability to keep a cool head under fire and complete his missions with minimal resources.
He’s also best buds with Alan Tudyk’s performance capture droid, K2SO.
Now we know how Jyn’s Rebel crew has a direct link to the Empire. Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook character is a currently empolyed Imperial pilot from a city on the occupied planet of Jedha. It seems he doesn’t take too kindly to Imperial aggression, and risks his life to betray the Empire and become a renegade to help the Rebels out in their quest to destroy the Death Star.
Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe
Actor Jiang Wen admitted his English wasn’t good, and maybe we misheard him, but he dropped what has to be the biggest inadvertant spoiler about Rogue One so far. He explained that his character Baze is a weapons expert with a “big gun,” and is best friends with Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, a monk-type character whose made a pilgrimmage to Jedha because he believes in the power of the Force but isn’t Force sensitive.
Later, when explaining how Baze remains skeptic of the power of the Force, Jiang pointed to Yen and said “When this guy’s dead…” before he trailed off and was interrupted by moderator Gwendoline Christie in an attempt to get things back on track.
And last but not least, Bistan. Nothing is known about this guy except a leaked Story Guide’s assertion that he’s a “fierce warrior” for the Rebellion. It’s good to see this little guy doing some damage againts the Empire.