Reshoots have become a common step in the blockbuster filmmaking process, as often times it becomes necessary to regather months (or even a year) after principal photography to obtain extra footage. But sometimes reshoots are an especially big undertaking, and in the case of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a significant portion of the movie was changed during that extra filming period, including some of the beginning and most of the third act. Michael Clayton writer and director Tony Gilroy was brought in to write new material for Rogue One and oversee the reshoots, and nearly a year and a half after the movie's release, he's bluntly explained just what kind of a situation the first of the Star Wars spinoffs was in when he came on board. As Gilroy put it:
I've never been interested in Star Wars, ever. So I had no reverence for it whatsoever. I was unafraid about that. And they were in such a swamp ... they were in so much terrible, terrible trouble that all you could do was improve their position.
Those who watched Rogue One's first teaser trailer and then compared it to later previews will remember that the movie went through a number of changes following the summer of 2016, from Saw Gerrera being given hair to Jyn Erso no longer having to face down a TIE Fighter. Although Godzilla's Gareth Edwards directed Rogue One during the main shoot, it was Tony Gilroy who spearheaded the reshoots, and judging by his comments during his appearance on The Moment with Brian Koppelman podcast, it was up to him to drag the movie out of a "swamp," so to speak. Edwards was ultimately credited as Rogue One's director, while Gilroy easily scored a screenplay credit, but make no mistake, without Gilroy's involvement, the movie would have looked a lot differently.
During the interview, Tony Gilroy also noted that the "gumption, the balls" of Disney, company CEO Bob Iger and everyone else at the Mouse House, involved to gamble on the movie the way they did was "astonishing," and because he came much later into the creative process and didn't have any strong attachment to the Star Wars franchise, he didn't stress as much about working on it as he would have on his other projects. Gilroy also talked about the movie's ending, specifically with all the main protagonists being killed off. including Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, who actually survived in an alternate ending. Gilroy explained:
If you look at Rogue, all the difficulty with Rogue, all the confusion of it ... and all the mess, and in the end when you get in there, it's actually very, very simple to solve. Because you sort of go, 'This is a movie where, folks, just look. Everyone is going to die.' So it's a movie about sacrifice.
It's unlikely we'll ever see what the original version of Rogue One looked like, but Disney and Lucasfilm clearly made a good decision having Tony Gilroy make the changes that he did. The movie received a strong critical reception (it ranks at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes), and it made over $1 billion worldwide. However, don't expect Gilroy to work on another Star Wars movie, as the franchise still doesn't particularly appeal to him. The reason Rogue One worked for him is because he saw it more as a "Battle of Britain movie."