Deathtroopers Turn the Tide A new, deadlier breed of commando Stormtrooper is storming the beach. As part of EW’s exclusive preview of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we bring you this gallery of new images from the Dec. 16 film. Leading things off: This shot of a squad of Deathtroopers, who are tasked with hunting down and destroying the fragmented Rebel uprising.
Multicultural Cast In this behind the scenes shot from the Yavin-4 base, Edwards consults with some of his lead actors: Jones, Diego Luna, Yen, and Jiang and Tudyk (in his performance capture suit). The movie’s Rebel team is a deliberately diverse mix from our own planet, meant to reflect a galaxy filled with a wide variety of humans from many different worlds (not to mention a healthy mix of creatures and aliens). “People are coming to the Rebellion because something has happened that has galvanized or politicized them,” says Hart. “The question just becomes: What are those triggers for different people in different places?”
Just a few days ago saw Entertainment Weekly drop a bit of a surprise by giving us tons of new character and story details on Gareth Edwards’ upcoming Star Wars spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It also included the unsurprising confirmation that Darth Vader is making a return, as well as teasing us with more to come later in the week. Fast forward to now and EW has released a pretty hefty batch of new images from the film, providing some really, really cool new looks.
One of the better images is the closeup on Donnie Yen’s blind warrior monk Chirrut Imwe and his “rough-and-tumble” protector, Jiang Wen’s Baze Malbus. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy had this to say about their relationship:
“Like the original Star Wars, these characters owe a debt to the two peasants from a 1958 Akira Kurosawa adventure saga. They’re inspired, again, by what inspired George in The Hidden Fortress. You could even say to some extent it’s, you know, R2 and C-3PO, a little bit of that.”
There’s also a little update on those badass looking Deathtroopers, “who are tasked with hunting down and destroying the fragmented Rebel uprising.” So basically, they have one job and one job only, while the Stormtrooper’s are more “ground soldier” type. And continuing with the bad guy theme, here’s even more details on Ben Mendelsohn’s villainous Director Orson Krennic:
“He understands the system and he knows how things work, but he also is not above trying to bend it to get what he needs or what he thinks he wants,” says Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s head of story development. Krennic is intended to be a contrast to Imperial officers we’ve seen before, like Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. “Tarkin is the model for these really cool, icy types, you know?” Hart says. “Krennic runs a little hotter than that, so that’s kind of fun and it’s a little bit different. … He is unpredictable and volatile.”
Check out the new batch of images below. Do any standout? Which ones get you even more excited to check out Rogue One later this year? Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters December 16th, 2016 and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and Mads Mikkelsen.
Jyn Undercover… Rogue One is an ensemble story, but its central figure is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a young woman recruited by the Rebellion to infiltrate the Empire and secure details of its latest weapon – a moon-sized battle station we know as the Death Star. Here we see her in disguise, armed for conflict inside an Imperial corridor. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says Jyn starts as an outlaw and “becomes a kind of Joan of Arc in the story.”
Rest for Baze and Chirrut Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (Ip Man) plays Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior monk who is not a Jedi but follows the path of the Force, and Chinese martial-arts actor and director Jiang Wen (Devils on the Door Step) co-stars as Baze Malbus, Chirrut’s Force-doubting rough-and-tumble protector. Like the original Star Wars, these characters owe a debt to the two peasants from a 1958 Akira Kurosawa adventure saga. “They’re inspired, again, by what inspired George in The Hidden Fortress, “ Kennedy says. “You could even say to some extent it’s, you know, R2 and C-3PO, a little bit of that.”
Toy Soldier In one of the more intriguing photos from Rogue One, we have this image of Deathtroopers prowling on a tundra. One of them is holding what appears to be … an action figure of sorts. The filmmakers didn’t want to explain exactly what’s happening here, but they confirm: yes, that’s a Stormtrooper doll, a galactic version of a toy soldier. And it will have special significance in the story. (Decades later, an abandoned girl name Rey will also fashion a doll for herself — this one an X-wing pilot.)
Krennic Schemes for Dominance Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Orson Krennic is responsible for protecting the security of the Death Star project, but he’s also a manipulator within the Empire. “He understands the system and he knows how things work, but he also is not above trying to bend it to get what he needs or what he thinks he wants,” says Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s head of story development. Krennic is intended to be a contrast to Imperial officers we’ve seen before, like Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. “Tarkin is the model for these really cool, icy types, you know?” Hart says. “Krennic runs a little hotter than that, so that’s kind of fun and it’s a little bit different. … He is unpredictable and volatile.”
Paradise Lost Keeping with the Star Wars tradition of planets with a single ecosystem, one key battleground in Rogue One is on a world that might resemble a relaxing seaside holiday destination if not for its proximity to the Death Star. That leads to a key battle in the film taking place on its balmy shoreline — blue waters and an eerie gray sky.
A Galactic South Pacific We don’t yet know the name of this world, but it’s meant to evoke both heaven and hell — tranquility and war. “There’s this sort of South Pacific, tropical paradise planet that subconsciously leads into some of the imagery associated with World War II,” director Gareth Edwards says. “We went to lots of different places around the world, and one of them was the Maldives. When you’re shooting Stormtroopers in paradise, you have the best job in the world, you know? You can’t really deny it at that point.”
The Surly Pilot We don’t yet know what kind of craft he’ll be maneuvering, but Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) will costar as the Rebel squad’s lead pilot, Bodhi Rook. “He’s a very experienced pilot. Flies a lot of cargo, one of his key jobs,” Kennedy says. “And he tends to be a little tense, a little volatile, but everybody in the group really relies on his technical skills.”
A streetwise delinquent who has been on her own since 15, she has fighting skills and a knowledge of the galactic underworld that the Rebel Alliance desperately needs. “She’s got a checkered past,” says Lucasfilm president and Rogue One producer Kathleen Kennedy. “She has been detained [by the Rebellion] and is being given an opportunity to be useful. And by being useful, it may commute her sentence… She’s a real survivor. She becomes a kind of Joan of Arc in the story.”
Andor is a by-the-book Rebel intelligence officer, brought in to steady the volatile Erso, but he’s no square. He’s committed, steady, and practical, and has seen more than his share of combat. “He conveys a fair amount of experience and the reality of what it’s like to do this every day, to try to figure out how to resist the Empire effectively and intelligently,” says Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s chief of story development. “It’s not easy.”
On the opposing side, this villain is an ambitious Imperial apparatchik who intends to use his squad of Deathtroopers to pulverize the Rebel uprising and ascend into the Emperor’s graces – while hopefully avoiding the wrath of his enforcer, Darth Vader. “The bad guy is a lot more terrifying when he’s really smart, and really effective,” says Knoll. “There is a lot of palace intrigue going on in the Empire, with people conspiring to move up the ranks and sabotaging each other. There’s not a lot of loyalty there.”
Pronounced chi-RUT, he’s no Jedi, but he’s devoted to their ways and has used his spirituality to overcome his blindness and become a formidable warrior. “Chirrut falls into the category of being a warrior monk,” says Kennedy. “He very much still believes in everything the Jedi were about.” He maintains that belief even though the Jedi are no longer there to protect the galaxy. As director Gareth Edwards puts it: “This idea that magical beings are going to come and save us is going away, and it’s up to normal, everyday people to take a stand to stop evil from dominating the world.”
Heavily armored, Baze prefers a blaster to hokey religions and ancient weapons, but he is devoted to protecting his friend Chirrut at all costs. “He understands Chirrut’s spiritual centeredness, but he doesn’t necessarily support it,” Kennedy says. Baze goes along with this Force business because “it’s what his friend deeply believes,” she adds. Think of them as a little like the galactic version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
K-2SO in Detail Here’s a full-body shot of the newest Star Wars droid — a security robot known as K-2SO (Kaytoo Esso), who is voiced and performed via motion-capture by Alan Tudyk (Firefly.) Compare his gunmetal gray surface to the shimmering plating of “Goldenrod” C-3PO, and you’ll see the difference between a utilitarian droid like Kaytoo and a protocol droid like Threepio. Kaytoo wasn’t built to socialize. He’s as brusque and blunt as he is strong. “He has a very dry delivery,” Edwards says. “He doesn’t realize what he’s saying is very funny.”