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There are few characters in cinema history who have quite the impact possessed by Darth Vader. The fan-favorite villain has captivated us ever since he first appeared on screen back in 1977, and to call him merely iconic would be a massive understatement. Because of this, it should come as a surprise to very few people that Ben Mendelsohn had a bit of a freakout when filming scenes with the beloved Sith Lord during the making of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Earlier this month, Ben Mendelsohn and director Gareth Edwards both spoke to the experience of working with Darth Vader during the Rogue One press conference that was held at Industrial Light and Magic headquarters, and they certainly made it sound like it was a seriously intimidating experience. Asked about working with the legendary antagonist on set, Edwards recounted what it was like on the day, and how Mendelsohn wound up being deeply affected by it. Said the director,
We were in the middle of filming this scene with Darth and Ben was like, 'Gareth, need to talk to you.' And I was like, 'What's the matter?' And he just, 'I need to go in the corner and talk to you. I need to have a word.' And it was like, 'Oh shit, here we go. What's the matter?' And we go over and I'm like, 'You all right, Ben?' He's like, 'Nah.' 'What's the matter?' And he goes, 'It's Darth fucking Vader!" And it was like, 'I know!' And we both had this little moment where we melted and we could just admit it. And then we turned around really professionally like, 'Okay, we'll try and fix that.' And we walked back.
Can any of you legitimately say that you would have a different reaction? As cool as it must be to just be a part of the Star Wars universe in general, doing a scene with Darth Vader is a whole different ballgame. Frankly, Ben Mendelsohn deserves a great deal of credit for just being able to keep it together on the level that he did and get the job done.
Personally speaking to the experience, Ben Mendelsohn noted that his time with Darth Vader during the making of Rogue One truly made his inner fanboy scream out, and he noted that he legitimately had a tough time keeping himself composed -- really needing extra time just so that he could get it done right:
The first thing you have to do is just get over the fact that you're doing a scene with Darth Vader, and that takes... yeah, that took me a little while. I'm a first-generation fan boy. It took a little while to feel like I could answer him with some solidity, like we could have a discussion, as it were. That took a little while. And also, Darth, his gestures and his mannerisms are so familiar that finding someone that can execute that in a way that is fluid is its own skill set, and so that requires a certain amount of thought and consideration too when you're doing it.
Of course, as you might expect, Ben Mendelsohn was hardly the only person working on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story who was deeply affected by the presence of Darth Vander. Not only did Gareth Edwards note that all rehearsals needed to be done out of costume to prevent crazy intimidation, but the character's aura even had the effect of causing the set to go dead quiet whenever he was around. The director explained,
We learned that we should do the rehearsals and talk through the scene without the costume because as soon as that helmet goes on, it's too intimidating. You can't give direction to Darth Vader - he tells you what he's going to do. But then what happens is that film sets are really noisy; there's a lot of banging and clattering going on. And suddenly it just starts to get quiet and you're chatting to someone and, 'Why's it going so quiet?' And in comes Darth Vader, and the whole crew is just like a five-year-old. It happens to everybody. And then you think, 'Oh shit, I've got to go over and speak to him,' and you have to snap out of it. It's probably one of the highlights of getting to do this film was little moments like that. And you're very aware of it. Everyone there is very aware of it, and you become the most popular person in the world the day you're filming those scenes.
The best news of all is that it won't be long until fans get their own chance to be stunned by the arrival of Darth Vader, as we are now just a few days away from the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The film will be hitting theaters around the world this Friday, December 16th -- and be sure to stay tuned here on Cinema Blend for a whole lot more from out interviews with the cast and filmmakers!