WARNING: Spoilers for Rogue One and Darth Vader’s amazing role in the film are below. If you haven’t seen the film yet, proceed at your own risk and know everybody else is judging you
Darth Vader’s role in Rogue One is brief but memorable. It was the most talked about moment online right after the film premiered, with countless bootlegs and gifs hitting Reddit and the rest of the internet that showed the iconic character doing exactly what most hoped he’d be doing. It was a fine cap off to the first of the many “side stories” being produced to coincide with the rest of the new Star Wars films. The surprising part is that it initially wasn’t in the film until the last moment.
Gareth Edwards sat for a behind-the-scenes talk with Wired ahead of Rogue One‘s digital release and noted that the final scene with Darth Vader wasn’t added to the film until four months before the film’s release. Edwards’ editor on the film, Jabez Olssen pointed out that film needed just a little more Vader or something along those lines, so they worked up an idea and presented it to Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy. She was pleased by the idea and they went through creating the scene in just three days. One long weekend to create what might be the best scene in the movie for some people.
Screenwriter Gary Whitta talked about the scene in question with Entertainment Weekly, noting that he had considered adding in another similar Vader scene before writing the script:
“The rampage where [Vader] murdered everybody wasn’t me. That got added later,” said Whitta, although he had considered a different battlefield confrontation between a large group of opponents and the Sith Lord. “I had pictured early on Vader murdering all these Rebel soldiers but I never wrote it into the script. It was an idea that stuck around after I left and they ended up finding a cool way to use it. It’s actually my favorite thing in the film.”
Whitta does indicate that there was another scene with Vader in the story initially and it would’ve changed the ending for one of the main characters in Rogue One. It seems that Director Krennic would’ve survived his brush with the Death Star on Scarif, but not for long:
“They tore him out of the rubble and they brought him back,” Whitta says. “When they’re going over the ruins, he somehow survived…and they pulled him up and brought him to the Star Destroyer to report to Vader.”
“He’s all beat up, his cape’s all torn up and stuff, and he thinks he has survived.”
Then Krennic would be choked to death by Vader, ending his life in a way that’s a little less powerful than being blown to bit by your baby space death laser. You can check out the Wired interview with Edwards below and see how he also managed to worm his way into having a role in that final Vader scene — and how he stole the Death Star plans.