In this week’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story watch-along at IGN, screenwriters Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta had some trivia for fans who decided to revisit the downbeat standalone film along with them, including some alternate titles that didn’t make the cut, and more info on how some of the characters changed in both the initial writing stage and during production on Gareth Edwards’ Lucasfilm project, which was later heavily reshaped by co-writer Tony Gilroy.
“There was one point at which we were kicking around titles for this, right?” Weitz said (via Comicbook). “Rogue One was a good choice eventually, but one of them was Dark Times.”
“We had a lot,” Whitta admitted. “At one point, John Swartz, who was one of the creative executives on the film had a list and we all kind of voted on the ones that we liked….One of the things that occurred to me, 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. So like Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars: Rogue One, let’s do a title that’s shorter so that even from the title of the movie you know this is something that doesn’t necessarily conform to the unwritten rules of the Saga films.”
Another title under consideration was Shadow of the Death Star, but when Rogue One was ultimately chosen for the title, Whitta revealed he was just as surprised 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.”
During the watch-along, Whitta and Weitz also went into a lot of detail about Diego Luna’s spy character, Cassian Andor, and how much he’d been re-written in the process of bringing the film to the screen. Andor is set to get his own Star Wars spin-off series on Disney+ after the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry roll back.
“He was always meant to be compromised,” Weitz said. “In Gary and my versions, he was severely compromised…”
“He was a double agent,” Whitta confirmed.
Cassian’s arc originally involved seeking revenge on rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who was responsible for the death of his loved ones.
“For a long time, he was working for the Empire,” Weitz said. “I think this was a rationale that I added in, was that he had lost people who had been killed by 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.”
“He was a rebel soldier who was secretly working for Krennic,” Whitta added. “But then, as he grew closer to Jyn and realized that the Empire had built this weapon, he’s like ‘I never signed up for this! I didn’t sign up for killing planets!’ He has a change of heart, and flips to the Rebel side. But that’s after he’s exposed as a spy. And at that point, in the third act, he kinda has to win Jyn’s trust back. That was all fun, that was all interesting. I think they actually shot some of that stuff early on. But I think this version ended up being more nuanced and more interesting.”
Though these nuggets have been plucked from the Rogue One commentary, the whole watch-along is well worth your time.