From the footage we screened at Skywalker Ranch, it appears that Gareth Edwards has made an EPIC Star Wars film. What was really fun to hear from both Gareth and the cast was how collaborative the film making process was. They tried new things and the story/characters evolved as they went. This is my last inteview from the Rogue One Event, check out what we learned from our conversation with Gareth Edwards.
If he’d known he’d be a Star Wars director someday
I probably would have every single day been a 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. And 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. And then I realize I would have wasted my entire life, because there’s something about the organic process of making a film, and working with others that if you don’t let it in you are like a dictatorship, like the Empire. And you say it’s gonna be this, this, and this, I don’t care what I see, I don’t care, what the actors do. This is what it’s gonna be, I think you limit how great the film can become.
Why the crew also wore Star Wars costumes
We had 360-degreee sets where we could film in any direction. And I remember on day 1 in this one set called Jedha, which is one of the cities that we go through where the force believers are. We started filming and the actors could do what they want. And I just happened to pan left or something. And there suddenly was all these crew in shot that suddenly ran out of frame, scared. Then the next day we came, and the same sort of thing happened where I pan left and the crew were there. But this time they’re all wearing Star Wars costumes. So they’d all learned to put robes on and that way, wherever the camera went, they could be in it if they had to be, and they secretly loved that. TLhere would be days where they would turn up with a rebel outfits, like rebel pilots. And you’re going, why are you wearing that? Well, in case you film us. And it’s like I’m not shooting that way. And they’re like, well, it doesn’t matter. Even on days we weren’t even filming, like on the day after meetings, they’re just there. You don’t need to do this. It’s like, well, you might get the camera out.
The Pressure of tackling Star Wars with it’s super fan base
There’s a line in the original where Luke is doing the attack run on the Death Star through the trench. And he’s got the computer and he turns it off, and it goes wee, weeeek. And someone goes, Luke! You’ve turned off your computer! And he goes, it’s okay, I’m all right. And It’s kinda like that. He trusts the force. And so literally you turn off your computer and not look at the internet. And just believe you can bulls eye this. You’ve just got to keep going! And just know everyone’s shooting at you. But just believe in yourself, and then go for it. And I think that’s the takeaway 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. But it applies to everybody, like people who do way more important things than me.
Choosing the Rogue One Cast
You try not to think of anyone to start with because you try and think of them as these characters. And then it gets really difficult to keep talking about someone, and not being able to visually picture them. And inevitably, you end up going you know, like so and so. And sometimes they’re a character from a film. Or this person, and you start to take on specific people in the world. I know definitely for things like Saw Gerrera and Krennic, Ben and Forrest, just popped up straight away.
How he became a Star Wars Director
I’m not really sure how that bit happened. There was two (big breaks for me). I went to film school. I wanted to make films, that’s all I ever wanted to do as a kid. And I graduated and I’d read all the Steven Spielberg story of how you make a short film, and then Hollywood calls and then you go off directing movies. And I think they lost my number? Because I never got that call. So I had to go back and I worked in a supermarket. I tried to earn some money to buy a computer so I could learn software because it felt like this was gonna be the future of filmmaking. That digital technology. It was all kind of developed here with George and ILM. I thought you could make a film from home, on a home computer and I just needed six months and I could learn the software to make one. It took me more like ten years to learn it and be any good.
And 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 and with this company in England, they gave us some money, and went and made a film where there was just five of us traveling around Central America.
I did all the visual effects myself and shot it. As we were driving doing this road movie thing, I was, like, Okay, what, what needs to take place after this for it to be worthwhile? ‘Cause it was about two years of your life. And I said, if I get to direct a TV show, that would be it.
And we showed it at South by Southwest and then at the end of the thing, this guy comes up to me and 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. And then the next day, as if by magic, he turned up. He just found me somehow. 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? it was a bit like, you had me at agent from Hollywood. And he’s, like my other clients are 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. And then, a few months later I was offered Godzilla, and things like that.
Using props from the 1st trilogy
What’s so funny is obviously they never anticipated that Star Wars would become this when they made it. And so there’s sometimes not a record of what an object is. I can’t talk about some things ’cause they’re spoilers, but I remember 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. I assume it’s a speed gun, he’s not gonna shoot at the Millennium Falcon. And we were calling up the art department and they were like we have got no record of what that is, that object he’s holding is. And so we called the guy that’s originally in the bucket, 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. And we were, like, what were those objects? We just want to get those objects and do exactly the same thing. And they were like I’m not sure! And so we kinda looked at it in high res, and tried to replicate it.
His 30th Star Wars Birthday Adventure
And with the blue milk stuff, I’ve got a confession. I’m a massive Star Wars fan obviously. And 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. And I took some blue dye with me because I wanted to drink blue milk at the very table where he does with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. And I actually made a blue milk glass drink and drank it. And then dropped it, and it went all over the floor and there’s this big blue stain now. And I felt really bad ’cause this is cinema history. And then I was, like, well, you kinda left your mark. That might outlive me in Star Wars world more than anything.
There are cameos in the film. We were doing one scene, and someone goes, you know the guy in the stormtrooper on the left there, that’s the Stig from Top Gear, the driver that does all the laps. And so I went up to him had a lot of fun with the irony that he’s now also wearing a white helmet, and no one’s gonna see his face.
There are cameos in the movie. I get a cameo, and I can’t tell you what it is because it, it, it will spoil things, but it was a dream come true. Everybody wants to have a cameo and there’d be like this queue of people and then sometimes they don’t make the cut! You’ve got to make what’s the best film and it’s really hard to tell ’em, like, you’re not actually in the movie. Sorry.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY OPENS IN THEATERS ON DECEMBER 16TH (TODAY)!!!
Disney hosted me during the #RogueOneEvent press event. As always, all opinions, and experiences are my own.