The first big highlight of Star Wars Celebration, the panel focusing on director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has just wrapped! The panel was hosted by Gwendoline Christie (who played Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens) and saw Edwards joined on stage in London by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and the film’s principal cast: Felicity Jones as delinquent turned rebel Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Rebel Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor, Ben Mendelsohn as Imperial Director Orson Krennic, Donnie Yen as blind warrior Chirrut Imwe, Jiang Wen as heavy fighter Baze Malbus, Forest Whitaker as the Jedi-trained Saw Gerrerra, Mads Mikkelsen as scientist and Jyn’s father Galen Erso, Alan Tudyk as reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO and Riz Ahmed as hothead pilot Bodhi Rook.
Due to the secrecy surrounding Star Wars, the panelists were not able to divulge much more than what we already know or surmised, but it was still pretty cool to hear the anecdotes of on-set antics as well as the actors talking about their characters. In Jiang Wen’s case, possibly talking a bit too much before Christie had to stop him. (Click that link at your own SPOILER peril)
(We will update this post with the actual full panel video as soon as it’s made available on Star Wars’ Youtube channel, but for now here’s some pics of the panel courtesy of ComingSoon.net)
We did learn a few interesting details though, like the fact that Galen Erso is not just the father of the movie’s heroine, but also a scientist who invented “something so beautiful .. it might change the universe”. Okay then, speculate away on that! We also learned that we’ll meet Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus on the planet Jedha, which is regarded as almost the the Mecca of the Jedi religion. This movie may take place in a time where there was no Jedi, but that hasn’t stopped non-Jedi from believing in the spirituality of the Force, and regularly making pilgrimages to this revered place that unfortunately is now completely under Imperial control.
And speaking of Imperials, we learn that Director Krennic is a different type of Star Wars villain as “he’s smarter than most of his predecessors.” It’s also been confirmed that K-2SO is droid that was reprogrammed by Cassian Andor, and the two are best friends. It was also revealed that Saw Gerrerra is the head of a more extreme faction of the Rebels, and that “by any means necessary, he’ll do what he needs to do to save the world.” Lastly, we got further confirmation that James Earl Jones will indeed be reprising his role as Darth Vader!
So as I mentioned, nothing too revealing, but still some neat few details for the hardcore fan. The highlight of the panel though was the debut of a brand new 3-minute long “celebration reel” that was part trailer, part behind-the-scenes video that showed off some great looking new footage. And you can check it out below!
How damn cool is that?! Probably the most telling moment in the trailer is when Edwards informs the audience that “The pressure’s so high that we’re making a film that’s right touching my favorite movie of all time. But then if you’re too respectful of it, that you didn’t do anything new or different — take a risk — then what are you bringing to the table?”. As many pointed, one of The Force Awakens‘ biggest criticisms is how much it mimics the narrative of the original film. Rogue One though, definitely appears to be doing something the Star Wars movie franchise has never really seen.
And speaking of things we’ve never seen, along with the celebration reel, some concept art for the film was also released. More specifically, the very first piece of concept art ever done for the film. And as you can see, things have definitely changed a lot since then.
Along with the concept art, we also got a brand new poster, that is a nice departure from the usual Star Wars poster template, making full use of the tropical Maldives set they filmed on.
And finally they also revealed some incredibly exciting new footage… only to the audience in attendance. Aw, bummer! This last point especially blows because according to the description given by BMD’s Devin Faraci, it sounds incredible!
A young girl in pigtails is running across a craggy marsh. An Imperial shuttle rises behind her. It’s clearly young Jyn Erso, especially as the footage cuts to modern Jyn running as well. There are shots of things going bad, of arrested Rebel pilots being paraded through a Jedah market.
Over all of this Jyn says:
“Every day we get weaker, and they get stronger. This is our chance to make a difference.”
And then combat! Shooting! A cargo shuttle exploding! A green faced CGI alien in a helmet turning and yelling at a bunch of other soldiers. Krennic walking. Someone – probably Krennic – kneeling before a hologram that will clearly be the Emperor, and which is flanked by two red Imperial Guards. And then finally a reflection of Vader, bathed in red light from what looks like the radar screen that showed off Yavin IV in A New Hope. He breathed. The crowd went nuts.
Star Wars Celebration continues all weekend with tons of intriguing and interesting panels being hosted until Sunday evening. You can check out the full line-up of events over HERE, and even click play and watch the live stream below showing whatever is on at the time.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story releases on December 16.
Last Updated: July 15, 2016