A lot’s been said about the reshoots and re-editing of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and last week the director, Gareth Edwards, revealed that despite those many changes, there would be no deleted scenes on the Blu-ray being released in a couple of weeks. So I guess we’ll never know what the “original” version of Rogue One looked like, that is unless someone involved in the early phase wanted to talk about it… Well, screenwriter Gary Whitta is sharing in a new series in Entertainment Weekly that’s all about the development of Rogue One. Spoilers to follow.
“The original instinct was that they should all die,” 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 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.”
In the end Whitta was mistaken, but when he started writing, the character that became Cassian and “Rebel Sgt.” Jyn Erso both managed to escape Scarif. “You have the darkness that’s in the undercurrent of the story at that point, but you still have the rightness of why they’re doing it,” explained Whitta. “It doesn’t feel depressing. It feels like you want them to succeed at any cost. It’s a sport where the clock is ticking, and they need to just dive across the finish line. You do whatever you need to do to get there. It’s a gauntlet that they’re handing to Princess Leia. You get that moment where the crowd feels like it can cheer at the end.”
In the original, non-death ending, we see Cassian and Erso run across the beach with the data disc, this version was initially shot for the film, and parts of it were scene in the trailers. “A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface. The transfer of the plans happened later,” said Whitta “They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”
There was no Darth Vader kills everyone sequence at this point, that was one of the changes made later in the reshoot process, but the Dark Lord of the Sith did play a part in the finale, attacking Erso’s shuttle, and while it would have looked like the surviving Rebels were killed, the camera would pan the debris field to show that they actually escaped again. “They got away in an escape pod just in time,” said Whitta. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
But as was discussed before, the filmmakers felt that any of the titular Rebels getting out of their adventure alive was doing a disservice to the story, so they asked the powers that be to make a change. “We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif,] and that was the way it ended,” Whitta said. “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 the rest, as they say, is history…
Rogue One will be on Blu-ray and DVD on April 4, but you’ll be able to get it through digital download on April 24.