Here’s How ‘Rogue One’ Nearly Ended, And It’s Drastically Different

This post contains spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Many scenes from Rogue One weren’t in the final cut of the movie due to reshoots, but now we’re getting a better idea of what was changed. Director Gareth Edwards recently revealed how details from the third act (like the scene of the rebels running on a beach) was cut because the third act was dragging. But things could have been even more drastically different: some of them could have survived.

Edwards and writer Gary Whitta have revealed to Entertainment Weekly how the first draft of Rogue One ended and how Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) differed. Erso was going to be a sergeant in the Rebel Alliance, and there’s even a Sgt. Jyn Erso toy based on that earlier draft. Three of the characters — Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus, and Bodhi Rook — weren’t in the first version, which would have been a shame. Sassy robot K-2SO was in the original draft, and there was a character similar to Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.

Most importantly, though, is that Jyn and the early version of Cassian almost survived. Whitta tells Entertainment Weekly they went against their instincts and tacked on a happy ending because they weren’t sure if Disney would let them go that dark:

“The original instinct was that they should all die. It’s worth it. If you’re going to give your life for anything, give your life for this, to destroy a weapon that going to kill you all anyway. That’s what we always wanted to do. But we never explored it because we were afraid that Disney might not let us do it.”

Disney let them go with the darker version, however. So what was that quickly-abandoned happy ending? Jyn and Cassian escape Scarif in a rebel ship, transferring the data tapes to Leia from ship to ship before Vader destroys the rebel ship. But we see Jyn and Cassian’s escape pod disguised as debris, hearkening back (forward?) to Han Solo’s escape among debris in The Empire Strikes Back.

They never shot any of those scenes, as that ending was quickly scrapped like so much ship debris. Whitta says, “The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult.”

Rogue One releases on digital HD this Friday and on Blu-ray April 4th. Maybe they’ll add the beach party footage back in as a special feature?

(Via Entertainment Weekly)