The wait is officially over. No more waiting, no more excuses…ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is in theaters now! By now, you are aware I had the unique opportunity to travel to San Francisco recently for the press junket on Rogue One, which included talking with the stars and director of the movie.
I have been sharing interviews with the cast of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY including Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krenniz), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) and Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook). Today I bring you – Gareth Edwards, director of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY.Before we get into the details of my chat with Gareth, let me give you a bit of history on his film-making history and directing career.
Gareth was born in Warwickshire, Englad and has a successful career in film making and screenwriting. He is infamous for his independent film Monsters and the 2014 remake of Godzilla.
Gareth came into the room to sit with the bloggers on the press tour and had the biggest grin on his face. This was one of the days he had been waiting and planning for the last several years – ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY press day.
Apparently we made a good impression with Riz Ahmed in the interview before Gareth, as the first thing he told us is:
I just passed Riz and he said they are all so nice!
His sense of delight and humor was evident from that moment on…
I play Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One.
A unique question we asked Gareth, is that if his childhood self knew he would one day direct a Star Wars film, what would his reaction be. The answer is priceless.
I probably would have every single day been an nervous wreck, and not do any homework or schoolwork, and I probably would never have had a job, and I would have sat and prepared it for 30 odd years. Then the day it began, I think I would have brought in everything saying okay, I know exactly what to do. It starts off with this shot, and then becomes this shot. Then I realize I would have wasted my entire life, because there’s something about the organic process of making a film.
One question we asked that I am sure is on the minds of every Star Wars fan was how difficult it was to take on the direction of a Star Wars film and was he worried about scrutiny and pressure.
Oh, no pressure. There’s a line in the original, where Luke Skywalker, and I grew up watching it every day. It probably is the reason I, well, definitely the reason I got into filmmaking. (Back to the line in the original)…Luke is doing the attack run on the Death Star through the trench. He’s got the computer and he turns it off, and it goes….weeeek. Someone goes, ‘Luke! You’ve turned off your computer!’ And he goes, ‘It’s okay, I’m all right.’
It’s kinda like that. He trusts the force. So literally you(‘ve) got turn off your computer and not look at the internet. Just believe, like, you can bulls eye this. You’ve just got to keep going! Just know, everyone’s shooting at you.
But, just believe in yourself, and thengo for it. I think that’s, to me, that’s the take away from the original film If you believe you can do something, and you never give up, then you can achieve anything. I guess I took it too literally. Like, I want to make Star Wars films. You know, but it applies to everybody. People who do way more important things than me.
Casting is an important part of every directors filmmaking process. We asked Gareth how he chose his cast and if he had anyone specific in mind for any of the characters.
What happens is (that) you try not to think of anyone to start with. Then it gets really difficult to keep talking about someone, and not being able to visually picture them. Inevitably, you end up going ‘You know, like so and so.’ And sometimes they’re like a character from a film. You know, like so and so from that movie. Or this person, and you start to take on specific people in the world. I know definitely for things like Sal Guerera, and Krenik.
Ben and Forrest just popped up straight away. I’ve seen Ben’s work and as we were trying to figure out this character that was starting to happen called Krenik that he plays, I loved Animal Kingdom and I thought it was one of the best films in a long time. Then forgot about it. Then watched a film called Startup. I just came away that night going ‘We’ve got to call this guy. This guy is Krenik. We’ve got to try and get him.’
Ss I came into work, I was already gonna pitch this to the producer. I’m gonna try and sort them into it. As I walked into the office, Simon, one of the producers, went, ‘Can I just stop you a second?’
I went, ‘No. I want to talk to you about Krenik.’ He goes, ‘I’ve got the guy.’ He’d watched a totally different film, and he said ‘Ben Mendelson.’ I was like, ‘I was about to say Ben Mendelson’. It was really weird. Like, genuinely weird! Then from that point on, we were not gonna take no for an answer.
Thank God Ben’s a massive Star Wars fan. I met him on a rooftop in LA, which sounds really glamorous, but it was raining. We’d already organized to meet there, so we did. We wanted to be away so no one could hear, so you could talk. I would get really paranoid about waiters and things because, you know, once you say the word like ‘Darth Vader’ or something, They’re gonna pay attention. Same with Forrest.
Like with any great movie opportunity, you have to get the job. We asked Gareth how he got his foot into the door to do this film.
I’m not really sure how that bit happened. I think the big break for me, there was two. I went to film school. I wanted to make films. That’s all I ever wanted to do as a kid. I graduated and I’d read all the Steven Spielberg story(s) of how yomake a short film, and then Hollywood calls, and then you go off directing movies. I think they lost my number, (be)cause I never got that call. I worked in a supermarket and tried to earn some money to buy a computer so I could learn software (be)cause it felt like this was gonna be the future of filmmaking.
That digital technology was all developed here with George and ILM, and pushing the boundaries that you could. I thought you could make a film from home, like, on a home computer and I just needed six months and I could learn the software to go make one. It took me more like ten years to learn it and be any good. I had spent that time doing visual effects for things like the BBC and discovery channel.
Then one day, I just thought, I’ve had enough. I can’t live with myself. Being an old man, having never tried to do what I really wanted to do, which was become a director. So I kinda quit my job. With this company in England, they give us some money, and (we) went and made a film where there was like five of us traveling around Central America.
We showed it at South by Southwest. The projection broke down. At the end of the thing, this guy comes up to me he gives me a business card. He says ‘I’d love to talk to you whenever you’ve got a moment.’ I was, like, ‘Okay’, and we left. Then the next day, as if by magic, he turned up.
He just found me somehow. He sat down. He said ‘Can I just talk to you for a second when you’ve got a moment?’ I was, like, ‘sure!’ And he said, ‘I’m from an agency in Hollywood, and I represent directors, and I’d like to represent you.’ And I said ‘Oh, okay. ‘ And then he said, ‘Do you want to know who else I represent? I said, ‘You had me at agent!’ (The agent continued…) ‘I’m have clients Quinton Tarantino and Tim Burton.’
From that day on, my life changed. You don’t need to know anything about Hollywood. You just need to make a film, and then these people exist. So they go, ‘Okay. We’re gonna make it happen.’ Then, a few months later I was off at Godzilla, and things like that.
Once you see the movie, you will understand my question for Gareth. I asked him about the props and detail in the movie and how, for me personally, really resonated with the original look and feel of Star Wars: A New Hope.
I think it’s in the trailer. What’s so funny is, obviously they never anticipated that Star Wars would become this when they made it. So there’s sometimes not a record of what an object is. There was definitely, on Yavin, which is the rebel planet, there’s a guy, as the Millennium Falcon comes in, he sort of follows it with this speed gun or something. He’s not gonna shoot at the Millennium Falcon. (So) we were calling up, trying to go (to) the art department. We have got no record of what that is, that object he’s holding is. So we called the guy that’s originally in the bucket. (We ask) ‘Do you remember what that was? And he said, ‘Oh yeah! We got them. We didn’t have anything. So we grabbed a light meter for the camera and something else and we taped it together, and I just held it.’ We were like “What were those objects? We just want to get those objects and do exactly the same thing.’ And they were, ‘I’m not sure!’ So we kinda looked at it in high res, and tried to replicate it.
With the blue milk stuff, I’ve got a confession. I’m a massive Star Wars fan obviously. (So) for my 30th birthday, I went to Tunisia, and woke up on the day I turned 30 in Luke Skywalker’s house…not by accident. It wasn’t like a crazy night out. I took some blue dye with me because I wanted to drink blue milk in the very table where he does with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. I actually made a blue milk glass drink and, and drank it. And then dropped it, and it went all over the floor. There’s this big blue stain now. I felt really bad (be)cause this is cinema history. Then I was, like, ‘Well, you kinda left your mark!’
This interview is definitely one for the history books for me, personally. Interesting tidbit for me personally. I have somewhat of a “movie moment” of my own on this trip. We were staying at the same hotel as Gareth and the rest of the cast. I had not seen much of him before this trip and when in the elevator with a random “guy” who saw my Star Wars shirt on. He asked me if I was excited to see the new movie, I replied that I was stoked and really hoped Rogue One would bring it all together for me and give a nearly 40 year piece of the puzzle that every Star Wars fan feels like they are missing. That guy was Gareth Edwards, and I figured it out later that night at a press dinner. I never said anything to him about it, but Gareth, if you ever read this…it totally lived up to everything I was hoping it would be and more. I feel it completely brought the first two trilogy’s together in a way that makes that part of the story complete. Good Job Gareth…from a 44 year old Star Wars fan who has watched since she was 5 years old! Wish I could have remembered to ask for that selfie…maybe next time! 🙂
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY takes us to a time as the Death Star is being built! Lucasfilm’s ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, and tells the story of unlikely heroes who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star and how the rebellion elevates to a level unlike it ever has before.
Is there cameos? I am not going to tell! Is there action? ABSOLUTELY! Will you love it? MORE THAN YOU KNOW! ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!
Interview Photo Credit: Louise Bishop
Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expense paid trip as part of a press Junket with Disney to cover this and all Rogue One: A Star War Story media.