Disney may have scrapped George Lucas’ original vision for a Star Wars sequel trilogy when it bought the franchise, but the iconic director apparently had some input on the newest film in the series, Rogue One, albeit in a small and unexpected way.
Director Gareth Edwards, who helmed Rogue One, recently spoke about the production with Games Radar/Total Film, revealing that Lucas stopped by the set some months ago to pay a visit. During his tour around the Rogue One design department, Lucas let his opinion of several props be known, all but assuring they would find a place on screen. Edwards recalled that he felt whatever Lucas liked in the design department was “pretty much guaranteed to be in the film,” hardly a stretch when you consider that Lucas is responsible for the genesis of the $4 billion franchise himself.
While the two Star Wars directors were touring the production, Lucas’ eye fell upon a particular helmet that the design staff loved, but had yet to find an opportunity to use. According to Edwards, Lucas made the offhand comment “That’s cool, I like that,” a seemingly flippant remark which of course carried a unique and special significance.
That comment gave Edwards a new resolve regarding the prop, and the director related that he and other staff members “looked at each other like, ‘OK, we have to put that in the film!'” Unsurprisingly, they did just that, as MovieWeb notes, yet Edwards stopped short of describing the prop in detail, leaving fans to speculate which helmet in the film he was referencing. Apparently, the helmet was hardly the only prop that received this treatment from Lucas, as Edwards has also suggested that anything the Star Wars creator liked eventually found its way into the movie.
Aside from a new array of props, Rogue One is also set to expand the Star Wars universe with a wide cast of peripheral characters. According to Entertainment Weekly, a number of the new alien characters in Rogue One were actually based on famous actors and statesmen. A new Mon Calamari, for instance, was modeled both in appearance and behavior on Winston Churchill. Black-hued and aged, his name is Admiral Raddus.
According to Neal Scanlan, creature effects supervisor for the Star Wars franchise, it was common practice during the production for designers to look for real-world analogues as they worked to flesh out their characters.
“Admiral Raddus is a very strong figure. We would use [Churchill] not only as visual reference for his physical features, but also when it came to performing him and expressing him through the actor.”
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) November 18, 2016
Other aliens featured in Rogue One were modeled on a host of Hollywood’s most iconic faces, including Bela Lugosi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Peter Lorre. According to Scanlan, this procedure helped the designers by giving them something in the real world to reference. Although he is hardly sure which of these creatures made the final cut of Rogue One, the process allowed those that do to be grounded in reality, thereby helping to make them feel “like they belong here in our world.”
— Argentina Star Wars (@ArgStarWars2016) November 9, 2016
Whatever new creatures and props find their way to the screen in just under a month, Star Wars fans can take comfort that Lucas had at least some small hand in shaping the first spin-off film. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16, setting the stage for a whole new future for the franchise.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Turner]