The Darth Vader Challenge Facing Rogue One, And How The Director Tackled It

Darth Vader

To paraphrase Boromir about walking into Mordor, one does not simply PUT Darth Vader into a Star Wars movie. One has to fret over it, and it turns out there is a very simple explanation for why that is, as Gareth Edwards, the director of December's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, found out.

After his presentation on the main stage at Star Wars Celebration in London, Gareth Edwards met with CinemaBlend and a small group of film journalists to talk about his unique approach to this very familiar universe. The exclusive trailer shown to audiences at Celebration ended with the reveal that Darth Vader does indeed show up in the movie (as was rumored for some time). But Edwards said that Vader presents a specific challenge when he's a character in your film, explaining:

He is like, he's got such a gravitational pull. The second he pops up, you just get sucked into Darth Vader. And so, it was a very -- it was a process to try and figure out how to pepper that into [the movie] in a way that felt right.

We know that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place in the moments leading up to Star Wars: A New Hope, and that it will follow the ragtag group of Rebel fighters who steal the plans to the Death Star and eventually help Luke Skywalker destroy the weapon ... after this movie. Gareth Edwards understands that he's backing into one of the most popular movies of all time, but he says knowing helped him understand how to tackle Darth Vader, and the whole experience.

Edwards tells us:

I got pulled into the idea of making the film through my love of the original films, but then what was clear, you know, a conversation that happened early on at Lucasfilm was, this is, we're doing new things here. This is not like s karaoke number or just pure, you know, winks. That's not going to make it be a film. This has got to be characters that you care about, and an opportunity to create new, you know, people and events that you care [about], that pull you in.Hopefully, the goal is that you come to the film for all the reasons that we love Star Wars, and we get sucked in and start to care about the new people and then as you're in the midst of all that, familiar things start to pass you by, and you start to remember, oh yeah, oh yeah...But the film should exist on its own terms. If all these films are ever just, 'And here's that character you love, yeah, here's that other character you love, yeah.' If all the time, that's all they're doing, then they're not really doing what George [Lucas] did, which was trying to find stories that were about something, that were saying something, that you keep in your pocket, even 40 years later, it's still in the back of your head and had an effect on you.

Isn't that exactly what you want to hear? I think it's refreshing that Rogue One, at least on paper (and in the mind of the filmmaker), wants to think outside of the traditional Star Wars box and harken back to the spirit of George Lucas' visionary storytelling, while also using some of Lucas' tools and operating in his sandbox. We'll see how it all works when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 15.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.