Star Wars: Rogue One Writer Recalls Peter Jackson’s Reaction To That Big Darth Vader Scene

Darth Vader igniting red lightsaber in Rogue One
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Given that 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delved into how the Rebellion obtained the plans for the first Death Star, it stood to reason that Darth Vader would eventually show up. Sure enough, the looming Sith Lord appeared in two scenes, with the latter seeing him slice through a group of Rebel troopers while trying to reacquire the space station’s schematics. It was among the Star Wars movie’s best scenes, and Gary Whitta, who worked on the Rogue One screenplay, recently recalled how Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson reacted when he first saw this moment that had been kept secret from the main cast.

Gary Whitta was the first writer to tackle the Rogue One script, and while Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy were ultimately credited for the movie’s screenplay, Whitta received a ’Story By’ credit with John Knoll. Upon seeing that Rogue One had been trending on Twitter, Whitta shared the following memories:

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For the man who brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s rich mythology to life in the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy and in the Hobbit movies that followed almost a decade later to react so viscerally to Rogue One’s big Darth Vader scene says a lot. Whether it was Jackson being on the movie’s set when that scene was shot or Whitta catching a glimpse of it during the editing process, it was immediately clear to both men that Darth Vader’s fury being unleashed in Rogue One’s final minutes would be a hit with audiences. They were correct, and what makes it all even more impressive was that scene was a last-minute addition.

Rogue One marked Darth Vader’s first theatrical appearance since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, with James Earl Jones vocally reprising the character and Spencer Wilding physically portraying him. Earlier in the movie, Vader summoned Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic on Mustafar to answer for the Death Star’s attack on Jedha, and he left the encounter with one of the Sith Lord’s trademark Force chokes and a groan-worthy pun as a bonus. Vader’s Rogue One appearance occurred not long after he recurred in Star Wars Rebels Season 2

Luckily for fans of both Rogue One and Darth Vader, they have much to look forward to thanks to upcoming Star Wars TV shows. First up, Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on Disney+ May 25, and it will see Hayden Christensen reprising Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader opposite Ewan McGregor’s title protagonist. Christensen will also appear as Anakin in the Ahsoka series, but it’s unclear if we’ll also see him in his Vader form. Then there’s Andor, which will follow Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor five years before the events of Rogue One. That show doesn’t have a set release date yet, but perhaps Vader could surface there too.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the biggest news items concerning the Star Wars franchise. If you’re curious what’s coming up outside of a galaxy far, far away, look through the 2022 movie releases on the theatrical calendar.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.