Last year, fans were introduced to a new villain in Star Wars lore, with Adam Driver's Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As powerful as this new villain is, even he bows down to the iconic Darth Vader, in a memorable scene where he claims to finish what Vader started. Darth Vader will finally make his return to the big screen in the first Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars, in theaters December 16, and today we have new details on how he fits into the story from director Gareth Edwards, plus more on another new villain, Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
Rogue One is set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, following a group of rebels lead by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) who are tasked with stealing the plans for the original Death Star. Ben Mendelsohn's Director Orson Krennic is in charge of the Death Trooper squad and the advanced weapons research wing of the Imperial army, but unlike other Imperial leaders, such as Peter Cushing's Gran Moff Tarkin, Krennic doesn't have an elitist air about him. During an interview with USA Today, director Gareth Edwards said that Ben Mendelsohn had asked if the filmmaker wanted him to adopt "a very posh English accent,' but the director said that wasn't necessary.
"It feels like if the Empire ever have a job vacancy, they go to the Royal Shakespeare Company to headhunt people. I like the idea that Ben's character was much more working-class (and succeeded) through sheer force of personality and ideas. (Krennic) hits a brick wall in the hierarchy where they won't let him in the club and it's going to turn into a them-or-us situation: either Krennic or Tarkin and the others."
James Earl Jones does return to provide the iconic voice of Darth Vader, with "various actors inhabiting the old battle armor and helmet." While it was previously reported that Darth Vader would have a large role, the director reveals that this iconic villain is "used sparingly," but his presence loomed large on the set. Here's what the filmmaker had to say about a scene involving Darth Vader, where Ben Mendelsohn pulled the filmmaker aside, as the director grew nervous that something was wrong.
"It's like we're at the playground again and there's this hero sort of standing there. You end up very respectful of him: Even though you know there's a guy inside the outfit, you still talk to him like he's Vader. He went, 'It's Darth Vader. We filmed with Darth Vader.' And I was like, 'I know. It's amazing, isn't it?' It was like no one wanted to admit that they're having a little fanboy freak-out but everyone did. It's impossible not to. He's so iconic."
The director also shared that he saw full-sized Death Trooper costumes during a recent visit to a Los Angeles mall, which made him realize that he will never get to make another film that is "already a part of popular culture." It remains to be seen how much more footage will be unveiled before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16. We'll also have to wait and see if Rogue One will be able to challenge Star Wars: The Force Awakens massive opening weekend box office record of $247.9 million when it hits theaters on December 16.