That Awesome Darth Vader Scene In Rogue One Nearly Wasn’t In The Star Wars Movie

Darth Vader in end of Rogue One
(Image credit: (Lucasfilm))

Star Wars' comeback beginning in 2015 has ushered in a number of new faces into a galaxy far, far away, but there are some characters we'll welcome back with open arms. Take Darth Vader; he's one of the iconic villains of all time (cue the Imperial March) and he had an unforgettable appearance in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Specifically during the movie’s grand finale, Vader is incredibly showcased in an insane and relentless battle led by his red lightsaber and Force powers.

Now five years removed from Rogue One and entering a new era of Star Wars, CinemaBlend spoke to one of the film’s editors, Kevin Hickman, about the jaw-dropping final sequence. Between the sacrifice Jyn and Cassian make on Scarif and Princess Leia’s hopeful cameo, Hickman revealed that Darth Vader wasn’t always going to have such a huge scene in Rogue One. As he told us:

The last thing that we actually shot was the Darth Vader moment. That was something that was not in the original shoot. And, that was something that one of the [filmmakers] thought, ‘Oh, why don't we tie in Darth Vader somehow?’ And it just kind of all fell into place. And that was the last thing we shot. It was actually filmed about three or four months before the film was released, so it was literally the last thing that we shot on that film. I still get chills when I watch it. It's a great, great moment. It really is.

After so many of us walked out of the theaters in 2016 being beautifully haunted by Rogue One’s big moment with Darth Vader, which would lead into the events of A New Hope, it’s crazy to imagine the sequence almost wasn’t in the movie itself. It goes to show how important and helpful additional photography can be on a movie such as this Star Wars spinoff. Kevin Hickman explained further about his role in Rogue One:

When I came on the movie had already been in production for a very long time. But they did reshoots right back in that summer of 2016. I came on with them when they brought additional editor John Gilroy who I've worked with before. So we went on the film and we went to London and we were there for the reshoots and then the restructuring of the film and the movie was undergoing a lot of changes during this time. But one of the biggest things that I was involved with was helping structure the third act of the film, like once they got to Scariff there was a lot of work that we had to do to sort of get the film in shape.

Kevin Hickman was a major part of the team that was put together to finish the film with the reshoots that took place following its initial shoot in summer 2015. Some of the major shifts that were made during Rogue One’s reshoots included the molding of the film’s third act right before before the film’s release. As the editor recalled, one of the key moments in the entire film was shot in London and edited in Pinewood Studios just a few months before it hit theaters that December.

The story of Rogue One will now continue with Andor, the Disney+ spinoff show starring Diego Luna, about Cassian’s adventures prior to his sacrifice for the Death Star plans. And Hayden Christensen will suit up again as Darth Vader for the Obi Wan TV series. Check out what other Star Wars movies and TV shows are coming up here on CinemaBlend.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.