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‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’: Five things to know about the Star Wars spinoff

Mark Daniell.

By Mark Daniell, Postmedia Network

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SAN FRANCISCO — There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Rogue One is the first standalone chapter in the Star Wars cinematic universe.

Leading directly into the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, the anthology film kicks off a series of titles that will be set outside the third trilogy, which returns next December with Episode VIII.

New characters, who we’ll likely never see again (more on that later), a new director (Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards) and a heavy dose of action. This is the one Star Wars film that doesn’t have to operate the way normal franchises do.

Rogue One tells the new story of Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), who is recruited by the Rebel Alliance to help steal plans to the Empire’s new super weapon — the Death Star.

Erso is joined by Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and other Rebels, including Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and new droid K-2S0 (voiced by Alan Tudyk).

During a recent press day, StarWars.com’s Andi Gutierrez moderated a conversation between the cast and filmmaking team, who reflected on what makes Rogue One a different type of Star Wars film. Here’s what you need to know going in.

NO, THERE WON’T BE A ROGUE TWO

Rogue One will be one and done. When asked if we will see Jyn, Cassian and the other characters again, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said it was “doubtful” adding that there will be a “lot of tears.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound good.

“When we came up with this idea to do the standalone movies, what’s liberating in many ways is the notion that we can come up with these stories inside the Star Wars universe that really have a beginning, middle and an end, and they stand truly on their own, and this does.”

THE FILM IS GOING FOR A WWII VIBE

Rogue One is part heist movie, part war movie — but Edwards took the war part pretty seriously.

“One of the things we did was we took real war photography like photographs from Vietnam and World War II and the Gulf and stuff like this and we used this bit of software for Photoshop and put in rebel helmets on the soldiers and rebel guns and some X-Wings in the background instead of fighter jets, and suddenly you looked at this stuff and it was really engaging,” he said.

GEORGE LUCAS LIKES IT, HE REALLY, REALLY LIKES IT

When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, he included his ideas for Episode VII, VIII and IX, and other concepts set inside the Star Wars universe. But Rogue One was dreamt up by writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy (from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta) without any input from Lucas’ story outlines (for the record, Disney scrapped Lucas’ ideas for the new trilogy as well).

So it’s been a bit of an awkward relationship between Lucas and Disney post sale.

But all may be forgotten now that he’s seen Rogue One.

“We got to show George the movie,” Edwards enthused, “and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie … it was the most important review to me.”

DIVERSITY IS A BIG DEAL IN THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE

A lot has been made about Rogue One’s diverse racial cast, particularly in comparison to the original films. Kennedy said that was both a sign of the times and a sign of things to come.

“Having a cast that represents and reflects the world today and having characters that people can relate to all over the world… was certainly important to this story,” she said. “Having that sense of diversity as people come together was really important to our story. Every movie has reasons for why you cast certain people, but I think what we’re doing today is just being much more mindful of that, and I think it’s important.”

MOVE OVER BB-8, K-2SO IS HERE TO STEAL THE SHOW

If BB-8 was on everyone’s Christmas wish list last year, K-2SO is about to do an encore performance. But it wasn’t easy.

“Alan Tudyk is amazing,” Edwards told Postmedia Network. “He had to wear this really embarrassing outfit, like a leotard. It’s not complimentary to anyone. Everyone else had these cool outfits and guns and they look really bad-ass and amazing and Alan looked a bit stupid to be honest. You could see him getting down about it sometimes. I went up to him and said, ‘Alan, I know you won’t believe this, but trust me, when you are fully K-2 in the final product you’re going to steal the show.”

Twitter: @markhdaniell

MDaniell@postmedia.com