The writers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story have revealed that the spin-off film almost went by some very different titles and that Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor was originally working for the Empire.
Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz joined IGN for a watch-along of the 2016 film yesterday and revealed some tidbits from behind the scenes.
Bridging the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the movie told the story of the rebel group who were tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star in order to uncover its possible weaknesses.
Read more: Was Rogue One the perfect prequel?
Whitta revealed that he found out about the Rogue One title at the same time as the rest of the world.
“When Bob Iger announced it at a shareholder’s conference I went ‘oh, that’s my title’. That’s how I found out.”
Whitta said they were looking for a title that illustrated the fact the movie “doesn’t necessarily conform to the unwritten rules” of other Star Wars films.
He added: “I went back and looked to all the previous films, and this continues to be true even with the sequel trilogy now being completed, the titles of Star Wars saga films are always either three words or four words long. They just all are.
“So it occurred to me that one of the ways we could differentiate this movie from the rest is we had a title that was only one word or two words long.”
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Weitz said that Dark Times was one of the names under consideration, while Whitta said Rebellion and even the significantly longer Shadow of the Death Star were on the shortlist.
The writers, who penned several versions of the movie before Tony Gilroy carried out extensive rewrites, revealed their plans for Rebel fighter Cassian Andor were initially very different.
Whitta confirmed that Andor was a “double agent” working with Ben Mendelsohn’s villainous Empire figure Krennic.
Weitz said: “I think this was a rationale that I added in, was that he had lost people who had been killed by [Forest Whitaker’s character] Saw Gererra. And all he wanted from the Empire was the go-ahead and the ability to kill Saw Gererra, rather than Galen Erso.
“And that kind of transmogrified along the lines – post-me and Gary – into a Rebel intelligence officer who had done terrible things. And here, he chooses not to.”
Whitta said he believed that the version of Andor in the movie ended up being “more nuanced and more interesting” than what they had conceived.
Rogue One went on to earn $1.06bn (£853m) at the global box office and gained an approval rating of 84% on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie ultimately earned a better result at the UK box office than blockbuster concluding chapter The Rise of Skywalker.
The film’s success is set to spawn a spin-off series for Cassian Andor, with Rogue One co-writer Gilroy set to pen the show for Disney+ — and direct it as well.