Months before its December release, Rogue One made headlines after it was revealed that the film would undergo major reshoots, which naturally raised concerns about the film’s quality or lack thereof. In hindsight, it’s safe to say there was nothing to worry about, as Rogue One has proven to be a commercial and critical success, but it’s clear that the film underwent some major changes over its final year of production (check out this cool fan-made trailer that shows all the scenes from the trailers that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut).
Now, in an interview with Yahoo UK, Rogue One’s editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudle have opened up about some of the major changes that happened during the film’s reshoots and why those changes were made. As it turns out, many of the changes involved the various character introductions at the beginning of the film, which were arguably the film’s weakest moments.
“The story was reconceptualised to some degree, there were scenes that were added at the beginning and fleshed out,” said Gilroy. “We wanted to make more of the other characters, like Cassian [Andor]’s character, and Bodhi [Rook]’s character. The scene with Cassian’s introduction with the spy, Bodhi traipsing through Jedha on his way to see Saw, these are things that were added. Also Jyn [Erso], how we set her up and her escape from the transporter, that was all done to set up the story better.”
According to the editors, Jyn’s story originally began at the Rebel Base on Yavin IV after the film’s prologue which shows her as a child. Her character introduction was reworked in order to give her an “exciting” prison escape sequence. “The point with the opening scenes…in the prologue, was always the same. Jyn’s just a little girl, so when you see her as an adult what you saw initially was her in a meeting. That’s not a nice introduction. So having her in prison and then a prison break out, with Cassian on a mission… everybody was a bit more ballsy, or a bit more exciting, and a bit more interesting. They got there eventually in the film, but this way we came in on the ground running, which was better.”
While a fair number of changes were made to Rogue One’s opening act, the majority were made in the final act, to the point where Gilroy’s brother, Tony Gilroy, reportedly earned $5 million for his rewriting work. Although Gilroy wouldn’t reveal specific plot details that were changed during the Rebels’ epic assault on Scarif, he did stress that it all played out much differently in the theatrical cut than what was originally planned. “It changed quite a bit. The third act has a lot going on. You have like seven different action venues, the mechanics of the act changed quite a bit in terms of the characters, and I don’t want to go into too much detail about what had been there before, but it was different.”
“We moved some of the things that our heroes did, they were different in the original then they were as it was conceived. Because you needed to figure that out, and everything else changes. Everything was connected to everything so doing something to one venue would change all the other venues, so really we had to… we were working on that until the last minute, because we working closely with ILM, they were giving us temporary shots and we’d put them in, we’d work them, we’d reconceive again.”
Goudie was also quick to shoot down fan expectations of seeing an extended cut or hours of bonus material once the film hits home video. “It was not much longer than the finished film,” he said. “I think the first assembly was not far off actual release length. Maybe 10 minutes longer? I genuinely can’t remember because that was nearly a year ago now. There’s no mythical four hour cut, it doesn’t exist.”