Rogue One writer Gary Whitta recently opened up about an alternate ending that he wrote to the Star Wars spin-off. The ending was in the first draft of the script. Visual effects supremo John Knoll has also revealed two more alternate endings that were discussed.
We spoke to Rogue One director, Gareth Edwards, who told us that the ending is not the only part of the film that had an alternate version. Some of the film’s characters died in a different way to the way you see in the final film. But Edwards won’t be drawn into revealing who, and how. Yet anyway.
Beware of SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t yet seen Rogue One.
“There were a few differences, yeah,” he says. “We tried some different stuff but that’s going to have to just stay in the world of the mythology. I kind of want this film to exist on its own terms for a while. These are the sort of things you can talk about down the road.”
Footage emerged a while ago from ABC News in a ‘making of’ video that seemed to show K-2SO and Cassian Andor meeting alternate ends, and Alan Tudyk who played Kaytoo said recently that a scene was shot that showed K-2SO meet his fate at the hands of Director Krennic. Edwards’ comments corroborate this.
Creating ‘Star Wars’ Canon
Edwards says that they explored hundreds of ideas over the course of making the movie. “Most of them were just talked about, some of them were written and a few were filmed in terms of shots and scenes,” he says.
But it’s unlikely this footage will ever see the light of day, according to Edwards. And in particular, we shouldn’t hold our breath for a director’s cut.
“I think it’s unfair to say there’s a director’s cut, and then there’s the film that was released – because the film that got released is arguably the director’s cut in that it’s the final film. We had a lot of support from everyone to do whatever was needed to make the film the best it could be. And so I feel like this is the movie, the film that people are seeing is canon – that’s what happened to those characters.”
The alternate ending Whitta revealed involved the characters fleeing the planet of Scarif, with the transfer of the Death Star plans happening later as Princess Leia’s ship swoops in to come to their aid. They then ditch their ship in an escape pod. In other words, it was less bleak. But problematic.
For a start, how would he have dealt with the fact these rebel heroes survived and yet had nothing to do with the events of the following three films?
“That was half the problem and that’s why we didn’t go there in the end,” says Edwards. “You know, you could have solved those problems and we did to some extent. It’s just these all become options, and if someone had said to us: ‘You can do absolutely anything you want, what do you want to do?’ we would have said: ‘Let’s have them die’. But I think – naively – because everyone else in the movie was dying we just maybe felt that we couldn’t do that.”
And so they turned in the first draft with the alternate ending Whitta described. But, says Edwards, “As soon as people read the first draft, that was the response. That’s why [producer] Kathleen Kennedy said we should just kill them.”
All In the Timing
Conversely, if the first draft had involved the deaths, Edwards feels things might have been different.
“Maybe if we had killed them, there would have been another reaction, you know?” he says. “And so maybe it was a good thing that the first draft didn’t do that because it allowed people to realise: ‘Yeah, that’s not right’. So everything worked out for a reason. And I’m just glad we got to do it the way it ended in the movie.”
Gareth is clearly frustrated over the attention given to alternate scenes.
“I genuinely feel that the right way to view it is that the film that got released is canon,” he says. “Anything else is just the story of how the film was made. When you do anything creative you have to explore different options and I felt – especially with Star Wars – if you haven’t tried everything, if you haven’t turned over every stone, then you just haven’t tried hard enough.
“In the time frame we had, we would pursue every option and talk about everything. There are all these interesting versions that you could mention but they get blown out of proportion in terms of their importance because it wasn’t like that. The whole thing evolved constantly as we made it over two and a half years.”
That won’t stop us pondering over what might have been, and with the promise of revelations further down the line, we’ll most likely find out more once the dust has settled.
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is available now in the US on Digital Download and you can buy it on DVD and Blu-ray on April 4. In the UK, it’s available on all formats on April 10.