John Williams Will Not Score Star Wars: Rogue One

Few things are as synonymous with Star Wars as the music of John Williams. It’s hard to even think about the franchise, original trilogy or prequels, without the composer’s rousing tunes coming to mind. When the first spinoff movie drops on December 16, 2016, however, you may be in for a shock, as John Williams will not score Star Wars: Rogue One.

Williams’ music has a massive impact on the films he’s involved with. Just think what Star Wars, the Indiana Jones movies, and Jurassic Park would be without his work. But as revealed on an episode of French radio program, Radio Classique’s Culture Club, Alexandre Desplat will handle the score for director Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) upcoming turn around that far, far away galaxy.

This makes Rogue One the first Star Wars movie to arrive in theaters without Williams, and though it’s shocking to think of at first, it isn’t a huge surprise. There has been talk for a while that the 83-year-old composer will continue to score the Episode movies, like The Force Awakens, but leave the standalone movies to franchise newcomers. If nothing else, this will be one way to truly establish these films as their own unique entity, as something different within the larger Star Wars framework.

For his part, Desplat is slouch at all, and you can do a whole lot worse on this front. He’s very, very talented in his own right, and has worked on tons of high profile films, including both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Zero Dark Thirty, and Unbroken, among many others. Just recently, he won an Academy Award for his work on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, in a category where he actually competed against himself. His score for the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring The Imitation Game was also nominated. The guy had a solid year.

He’s obviously no stranger to big, epic movies, and Rogue One marks the second collaboration between Desplat and Edwards, who worked together on Godzilla last year. It will be interesting to see what he brings to Star Wars, and if he puts his own unique stamp on the film or tries to pay homage to Williams.

For as much talk as there’s been, we don’t know a ton about Rogue One. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) is reportedly the female star, the story comes from an idea by longtime Industrial Light & Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll, and Chris Weitz is handling the latest incarnation of the script after Gary Whitta left. Everything else is unsubstantiated rumor and hearsay at this point.

The title, Rogue One, presumably refers to Rogue Leader, the commander of Rogue Squadron, the most elite flying force in all of the Rebel Alliance. This moniker has, at various times, been bestowed on Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, and Luke Skywalker, a name you probably recognize. We’ve also heard that this first standalone film involves bounty hunters, Boba Fett, and a heist, possibly of the plans for the first Death Star. At this stage, we have no idea how all of these elements, if they are indeed true, come together in the story, but we’re damn excited to find out.

Brent McKnight