I have a feeling Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will go down in cinema history as a great “What If.” From the first minute fans learned their would be extensive reshoots, people have been trying to piece together what happened behind-the-scenes. Then the trailer turned out to be peppered with detritus from the abandoned cut, from little things like the cast running across the beaches of Scarif to scuttling the trailer’s most memorable line — “I rebel” uttered in defiant tones by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Even the ending was changed when director Gareth Edwards realized Lucasfilm would actually allow the movie to finish on downer note.
Somewhere down the line, someone is going to write a scathing tell-all about what caused all these changes and perhaps even fully leak the story that might have been. But in the meantime, hints as to the chaos behind the making of Rogue One continues to trickle out in interviews with cast and crew. Most recently, Star Wars Hyperdrive participated in a Q&A session with some of the concept artists and costume designers from Rogue One. The whole of what they learned is interesting, but a couple of pieces of information stick out.
First, they revealed Saw Gerrera was originally supposed to be on another planet altogether. Early concept art had Snow Troopers for an ice planet where Gerrera was holed up. Immediately my mind jumped to the planet of Vallt, an Outer Rim territory where Jyn Erso was born while her parents were prisoners of the Clone Wars. Covered in glacial ice and home to a synthetic kyber crystal facility. Gerrera would’ve known about the planet due to his connections with Has Obitt, who was hired by Krennic to help rescue the Erso family from imprisonment. If I had to hazard I guess, I’d say this planet was scrapped for time, though it’s impossible to know for certain.
Secondly, the concept artists admitted they had worked for two months to get the look of the Citadel Tower on Scarif exactly right and then had to scrap it completely. The redesign happened in about two hours. Even in the constantly fluid scheduling of film production, that stands out as insanely tight turnaround time. Again, there’s a great story hiding behind all those reshoots. Hopefully one day we’ll get it.