Star Wars spin-off Rogue One’s reshoots have already become the stuff of cinematic legend, with the sci-fi blockbuster apparently making huge changes fairly soon before the movie’s release resulting in many scenes featured in the trailers hitting the cutting room floor.
Now, the film’s editors have lifted the lid on what exactly was added and taken away from the prequel, in an interview where they also attempt to dispel the rumours that these reshoots were anything unusual – or that a much longer cut of the film exists somewhere.
“They gave you the film that you see today,” editor John Gilroy told Yahoo Movies.
“I think they were incredibly helpful. The story was reconceptualised to some degree, there were scenes that were added at the beginning and fleshed out.”
According to Gilroy, scenes were added to further explain the background to Diego Luna’s rebel spy Cassian Andor, adding a scene where he meets a fellow spy played by Line of Duty and Doctor Who star Daniel Mays, while more shots of Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook were also added.
“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,” Gilroy said.
And they weren’t the only characters to get a bit more depth added by reshoots, with lead character Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) given an extra escape scene to help introduce her.
“How we set her up and her escape from the transporter, that was all done to set up the story better,” Gilroy said.
“When you see her as an adult what you saw initially was her in a meeting,” fellow editor Colin Goudie added. “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.”
Though the biggest changes came for the action-packed third act of the film, which saw Jyn and her team steal plans for the Death Star on the tropical world of Scarif, in scenes that seem to have changed quite a bit since their early appearances in trailers.
“It changed quite a bit,” Gilroy said. “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 [special effects company] ILM, they were giving us temporary shots and we’d put them in, we’d work them, we’d reconceive again.
“It was really like a very tight puzzle and we had to keep honing that and honing that, and I’m very proud of what we did there.”
Still, despite all these changes the pair say that nothing about this was unusual with the reshoots (or “pick-ups”) planned for from the start.
“I think everyone knew, from the offset, everything was always scheduled from day one for there to be pickups like on every film,” Goudie said. “We did exactly the same thing on [Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ first film] Monsters, we always knew we were going to go back and do pickups, and it was the same thing with Rogue One, it was just something that was on the schedule.”
But what of that original, longer cut that existed before the reshoots?
“It was not much longer than the finished film,” Goudie explained.
“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.”
Oh well – looks like we’ll have to make do with a few interesting “what-if?” deleted scenes instead.
Rogue One: A Star Wars story is in cinemas now