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Lucasfilm's Rogue One Press Junket Transcription Part 2

Posted by D. Martin on December 11, 2016 at 11:20 PM CST


ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us. So I think we’ll just start with the audience this time. Yes, who has the mike, anybody? I see a hand. Okay, perfect.

PRESS: Hi, [PH] Mila from Australia. Felicity, I was wondering – there’s a scene in the film where Cassian just has to stand back and watch Jyn kick Stormtrooper butt, which I thought was fantastic. I wonder how you feel seeing yourself do that and if the process of finding Jyn for you was about maybe finding your inner warrior that you didn’t know you had.

FELICITY JONES: Yeah, well, it’s in Jyn’s head, it’s very clear. She hates the Empire. So anytime she sees Stormtroopers she has this kind of a very clear instinct to take them down. So I just tapped into that, into that energy that Jyn has. And I’d never done that kind of thing before. It was very new, the whole kind of physical preparation, that side of acting. I’m kind of used to lots of, you know, talking in corsets so it was really nice to be running around with a blaster and a baton to bash Stormtroopers with. But yeah, it was an extraordinary process and you work very closely with the stunt team who take you through very kind of move and moment and support you throughout the whole thing and I’m very lucky to have a great support from the [SOUNDS LIKE] front team doing it.


PRESS: HI guys. Hi, I’m over here on your right.

ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: Oh, there you go, wait, in the hat.

PRESS: Right. The movie looks fantastic, guys. Really excited for it. I have kind of a technical question for Gareth and I guess Kathleen.


PRESS: What format was Rogue One shot on and why have you guys chosen the specific formats that you’re shooting for the new Star Wars movies?

GARETH EDWARDS: Well, I mean, we had the difficult task of we were kind of making a period piece as well, we’re making a film that’s sort of – we’d say to the crew and the designers like imagine this is set in 1977 and don’t do anything we couldn’t have done back then in terms of aesthetic, and that applied to the camera work to some extent. But obviously in today’s cinema, you know, we’ve got these 4K projections and things going on IMAX, and this brand new camera had come out from [PH] Ari and it was incredible and it’s like four times resolution of normal film cameras. But Greg, the [PH] DoP, was like, okay, this is fantastic but we also want to go back to the ‘70s with the analog kind of look in the movie, and so he got hold of this Panavision lens that’s from 70 millimeter anamorph, that they shot Ben Hur with this actual lens. And for the first time ever in cinema, Ari and Panavision, which are two separate companies in the film industry, they came together to make one camera for Star Wars. And it was incredible. And for those who are technically minded, what the result is you get this very narrow depth of field, so if you’re focused on me the background’s quite blurred and the foreground’s quite blurred. And it was a nightmare for the focus puller. There was this young guy called Jake and he performed a miracle, because we were like – there was battle scenes, we didn’t put marks down, we were just running in there with the camera, and he was always getting the focus, we didn’t drop any shot out in the movie because it was out of focus, and I think a lot of the beauty in the film is down to the cameras that we used, so it had that look of – it’s like a modern version of the past, you know, was kind of what we’re going for, which is kind of what Rogue One is trying to achieve.

KATHY KENNEDY: Yeah, and I would just say that I think what’s really great about the fact that we’re now moving into these standalone movies is that we’re bringing in essentially auteur directors like Gareth and we’re really supporting those directors and their vision and we’re looking at each of these movies without a rule book. We’re basically saying, okay, here’s a new story, a new movie, a new approach, what do we want to do? And we’re very open to that. And I think it very much is in the spirit of what George Lucas did to begin with. I mean, he inspired ILM, innovation and technological innovation was extremely important to him. And it’s very much a part of the culture of this company so that’s what we want to continue.

PRESS: Hey folks, to your left, Jim Davida with IGN. My question is for Kathleen. This film introduces into live action Saw Gerrera. Are there plans to introduce other characters from animated Star Wars shows into live action feature films?

KATHY KENNEDY: You know, that isn’t really the approach that we have. We don’t sit down and start isolating a list of characters and then build stories around those. We really are starting with the stories themselves and then if some of those characters might come in to what it is we want to do or say, we’ll consider it then, but that’s not part of the strategy now.

PRESS: Thank you.


PRESS: Hey, over here. Hi. Erin Whitney with Screen Crush. This question is for Kathleen. The Star Wars films have done a lot for female characters and female heroes, but the movies have yet to have a female director, and you recently said that a woman who has no experience with blockbusters wouldn’t be suitable for a Star Wars movie. However, multiple male directors have had that opportunity. So I’m curious – why is it different for women and –

KATHY KENNEDY: That’s not true. So, this gentleman did Godzilla before we hired him to direct the movie. And that quote was taken out of context and I, as you can imagine, have every intention of giving somebody an opportunity. So if somebody actually moves through the process of making movies and wants to make a Star Wars movie and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.

PRESS: Could you name any female directors that you think have potential to direct one?

KATHY KENNEDY: I think there’s many. And I’d talk to most of them. So there are many out there.

PRESS: Thank you.


PRESS: Thank you. This is for Gareth. Can you talk a little bit more about [INDISCERNIBLE].

GARETH EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, it was also conscious to some extent. We’ve watched Star Wars to death. Like you guys I think have seen the opening of the film, most of you, not all of you, and it’s kind of a reflection of Star Wars: A New Hope to some extent and this is really a segue so I can get these guys in because we went to Iceland to film the opening scene and it didn’t occur to me till later than when you think about [A] New Hope, you know, the very first time you see the antagonist come in, Darth Vader, it’s a black guy in a black cape surrounded by white Stormtroopers. And at the opening of our film is there’s a guy in a white cape surrounded by black Stormtroopers and it’s all these subconscious things where we’re trying to take what’s familiar but sort of inverted or twisted, and filming that scene with Ben and Mads, it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever filmed. When people say what’s the hardest scene you ever did, I think it was probably that one because we were freezing our tits off out there, and the worst thing was is fog was coming in and then it suddenly disappear, so we’d set up these amazing shots and we’d be really excited and then suddenly there’d be a whiteout and you couldn’t see like three meters ahead of you. You’d have to wait and then suddenly it would clear. And these are like two of the most incredible actors in the world. And it was just so good to just sit and put them up against each other and let it unfold. And Ben is so relaxed in front of the camera that he would start like just messing around, like he’s very playful. And I thought he was reciting Shakespeare or something, like to get himself into character, and then I would listen carefully to the lyrics and realize he was singing Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, and even like Frozen, I think. There was like times where –

BEN MENDELSOHN: Oh yeah, I did sing a bit of Frozen.

GARETH EDWARDS: Yeah. What was it – we used to be friends or whatever?

BEN MENDELSOHN: Yeah, that’s right, yeah, yeah, yeah. I did the we used to be friends – no, it’s escaping me now, but yes.

MADS MIKKELSEN: I remember it vividly.


ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: It’s very intimidating, I’m sure. Next question?

PRESS: It’s [PH] Eric Isenberg from [PH] Cinemablend, over here on your left [INDISCERNIBLE]. So my question is for Ms. Kennedy. As we’ve talked about today, one thing that separates this film is that it’s very much a war movie while most of the Star Wars films that we’ve seen have kind of been mostly space opera. This has a very different feel. And moving forward with these Star Wars stories I am curious if part of the motivation behind them is to experiment in new genre as a means of keeping Star Wars as a franchise continually fresh for years to come.

KATHY KENNEDY: Yeah, actually interesting thing is that that was inspired by George, because as Gareth has said in the past, he very much mixed genres and loved movies, and drew from those examples, when he created Star Wars to begin with. And even when George did [A] New Hope, he was actually cutting in planes from World War II as a way to set up the dogfights, if you will. So that very much continues to inspire what we’re doing, and it keeps the variety.


PRESS: [PH] Michael Adaya from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. A question for Gareth and also for Ben. The big cameo here obviously, or the big kind of guest appearance, is Darth Vader. Can you talk a little bit about working with that costume, how powerful that image is in cinema and when you are actually actors on a working film set, what happens in the tipping point between dealing with an actor in a costume and the fact that that actor in that costume is a very powerful personal cinematic image that is present in front of you?


BEN MENDELSOHN: So the first thing you have to do is just get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader, and that takes – yeah, that took me a little while, because, you know, I’m a first generation fan boy. So I was – yeah, it took a little while to feel like I could answer him with some solidity, like we could have a discussion, as it were. That took a little while. And also Darth, his gestures and his mannerisms are so familiar that finding someone that can execute that in a way that is fluid is its own skill set, and so that requires a certain amount of thought and consideration too when you’re doing it. But you know [OVERLAPPING].

GARETH EDWARDS: There was a time – Ben, you know, you all know Ben’s work – he’s got this ability to be, if he wants to, to be incredibly intimidating, and in the entire process of making the film it was a kid in a candy store, we had amazing time. And I kept thinking I wonder if there’ll ever be this moment where I’ll see like some of the characters he’s played or something pop out. And we were in the middle of filming this scene with Darth and Ben was like, “Garth, need to talk to you.” And I was like, what’s the matter? And he just, “I need to go in the corner and talk to you. I need to have a word.” And it was like oh shit, here we go, what’s the matter. And we go over and I’m like, you all right, Ben? He’s like, nah. And it’s like what’s the matter? And he goes, “It’s Darth f***ing Vader.” [LAUGHTER] And it was like, I know! And we both had this little moment where we melted and we could just admit it and then we turned round really professionally like okay, we’ll try and fix that. And we walked back [LAUGHTER].

ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: I would geek out too. I mean, it’s probably still pretty difficult to pull a scene with Darth Vader and like not turn into a child again.

GARETH EDWARDS: And you can tell when he’s coming on set because we learned a little bit that we should do the rehearsals and talk through the scene without the costume because as soon as that helmet goes on, it’s too intimidating. You can’t give direction to Darth Vader, like you know, he tells you what he’s going to do. And so but then what happens is that, you know, film sets are really noisy, there’s a lot of, you know, banging and clattering going on, and suddenly it just starts to get quiet and you’re chatting to someone and why’s it going so quiet – and in comes Darth Vader and he stands on – and the whole crew is just like a five year old [INDISCERNIBLE] like this, and it happens to everybody. And then you think, oh shit, I’ve got to go over and speak to him, and you have to snap out of it. It’s probably one of the highlights of getting to do this film was little moments like that. And you’re very aware of it. Everyone there is very aware of it, and you become the most popular person in the world the day you’re filming those scenes because you look round and there’s –

BEN MENDELSOHN: Everyone turns up.


BEN MENDELSOHN: Everyone turns up when Darth is there.



PRESS: Hi, [PH] Ny McGee with [PH] Ewar Web. My question is for Gareth or Kathy. This franchise or this film specifically at its core tends to explore like popular conceptions of like government, military, you know, police, unity, and these are certainly topics that, you know, provide like valuable insights to students of film and people who are fond of American politics. So my question is: do you think that science fiction has an advantage to like explore these things and allow these things to be easily digestible to the audience without them feeling preached to?



PRESS: I guess another way of also asking it – you know, obviously these films are entertainment but –

KATHY KENNEDY: I was just going to say – I think you’re asking a question that’s a broader question inside the world of entertainment and certainly a form of escapism as a way to simplify complicated ideas. I think it’s one of the things that’s made Star Wars strong is that those simple ideas have had good and evil very clearly drawn, and this movie is a bit more sophisticated and complicated and does reflect I think a more complicated worldview today. So yes, to some extent, this story might illuminate some of those things in a way that may start a discussion, which is great.

PRESS: What’s the overall message of the film? Is it just unity?

KATHY KENNEDY: Teamwork and belief.

PRESS: Thank you.

ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: I think fishtailing off of that, Mads, your character Galen is a kind of a complicated character. I mean, he’s involved with bad things but he’s not necessarily a villain. What kind of approach do you have to like a character with that sort of complexity?

MADS MIKKELSEN: No, but I mean, I think that as actors we always try to find like the two sides of a character, but definitely it’s in the this one because he’s working together with this gentleman something that he believes from the very beginning as a project that has the ability to change the world into a better place. And [SOUNDS LIKE] so be it that it turns out that he’s working on something that he didn’t know, and for that reason he’s in a gigantic dilemma. And for other reasons I will not spoil here, the dilemma gets even bigger. So yes, that’s a gray zone here. As you said, [SOUNDS LIKE] you used to be maybe in the ‘70s and the ‘80s a little more black and white, but there are a lot of grays in here.


PRESS: David Fern from Indoor Express. I asked the cast earlier about their thoughts on their first action figures. I know Mads doesn’t have one yet but hopefully soon. And so I wanted to hear the cast on their thoughts of getting finally themselves in plastic form. And if Gareth could talk about the score by Michael Giacchino at all after that.


ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: We’ll start with the action figures, ‘cause that’s always fun.

MALE SPEAKER: Riz, you got on, right?


RIZ AHMED: I did get an action figure. I was very pleased because I think he’s a lot better-looking than I am. I think they accidentally modelled it on Diego or something, easily confused. Yeah, it was a kind of surreal, amazing moment, to be honest. I remember kind of playing with those toys as a kid and so to be part of that universe, you know, in plastic, is an amazing thing.

ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: Christmas shopping’s easy.

RIZ AHMED: Yeah, right. Slightly narcissistic but yeah, giving everyone little versions of me for Christmas [OVERLAPPING].

MALE SPEAKER: Why give me Diego? I thought you would give me yourself.

RIZ AHMED: Yeah, exactly.

GARETH EDWARDS: Yeah, Michael did an amazing score for us. He’s a massive, massive, massive, massive, massive, massive Star Wars fan. I think a lot of us compete for who’s the biggest Star Wars fan working on the film. And I go around his house and you walk in the door and in his main front room is – I don’t know how big but it feels like it’s that big – but it’s like 13 foot tall framed poster of A New Hope, and so the joke like, oh, you didn’t have to do that for us, and he’s like, no, this has been up for like 13 years. And he said he listened to [The] Empire Strikes Back soundtrack to death as a kid. And it’s just I think the vocabulary of that music is in him and it just poured out, and this stuff, I mean, you know, there’s particular moments in the film musically, especially towards the end, that is truly stunning, and very emotional and I think he just knocked it out of the park and we are very lucky.

ANDI GUTIERREZ -MODERATOR: I think that’s all we have time for today. So I want to thank you guys al again for joining us. Thank you guys [Thank you.] for coming up here and speaking with us.


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