Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is jumping back in time to when the Rebellion was the underdog fighting back against the Empire. However, while Darth Vader was the main representative of this oppressive regime in the original Star Wars trilogy, Ben Mendelsohn's Orson Krennic is taking the lead this time around, as he'll be the one hunting down the Rebel scum who are attempting to steal the Death Star plans. Pictures and previews have already painted Krennic as a formidable threat, but one of the key differences moviegoers will see between him and other Imperial antagonists is that he's not a Shakespearean showboater.
Speaking with USA Today, director Gareth Edwards noted how most top Imperial officers, like Grand Moff Tarkin, are "upper class types." So when Ben Mendelsohn asked if he should adopt a "posh" English accent for Rogue One, Edwards decided it would be better if Orson Krennic wasn't a part of that particular "boy's club." He explained:
It feels like if the Empire ever have a job vacancy, they go to the Royal Shakespeare Company to headhunt people. I like the idea that Ben's character was much more working-class.
Even though the Empire takes recruits from all corners of that galaxy, far far away, many of its officers in the Original Trilogy definitely sounded like they either came from well-to-do families or were pulled directly off the stage during a performance of Hamlet. Orson Krennic, on the other hand, had to slowly work his way up the ladder to earn his esteemed position as Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military. Unfortunately for him, Edwards also revealed that during Rogue One, Krennic "hits a brick wall in the hierarchy" where he can't get into the "club," resulting in either him coming out on top or the other officers. In other words, he has a lot more to lose than the other individuals who wear the uniform.
When we meet Orson Krennic in Rogue One, he'll be eagerly waiting the Death Star becoming operational after nearly 20 years of construction. He's staked his reputation on its successful completion, so when Rebels show up to throw a wrench into the works, he'll do whatever is necessary to eliminate them. This, along with other officers surely plotting his downfall, is enough pressure for the man to deal with, but making matters worse is that Darth Vader will be peering over his shoulder. Since this movie takes place before A New Hope, we already know that Princess Leia will eventually get her hands on the Death Star plans. What remains to be seen is exactly how the transference of ownership is initiated. Regardless, don't be surprised if Krennic's failure to keep the plans safely under lock and key means he's awarded a coupon for one free Force choke by the end of the movie.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released in theaters on December 16.