Gareth Edwards at a ‘Rogue One’ fan event in Mexico last month.
To some Star Wars fans, reports that the upcoming movie Rogue One was spending weeks reshooting some scenes this summer was cause for consternation.
But Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has news for those fans — that’s how movies work. Reshoots make them better. And that goes double for a Star Wars movie.
"With a lot of films you go ‘that’s good,’ and walk away," Edwards told Mashable. "But Star Wars has to be fantastic. So you shouldn’t let go of the camera, or the edit suite, until they [pry] it out of your hands."
The latest cause of fan freakout: unconfirmed reports that Rogue One co-writer Tony Gilroy (a veteran of the Bourne movies) has taken such a large role in the reshooting and postproduction process that he is now pocketing an unusually high salary of $5 million.
But as Edwards pointed out, he has done reshoots on every film he’s worked on, with or without collaborators — even the 2010 low-budget hit that made his name, Monsters.
"On Godzilla we did pickup shoots," Edwards says. "On this movie we did pickup shoots. For the next movie I want to do pickup shoots. You shouldn’t ever stop."
Edwards, 41, a soft-spoken Brit with a boyish, happy-go-lucky demeanor, is completely chill about all the attention the reshoots attracted. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, with the franchise as popular as it is, this is to be expected, he says.
"In the days before the internet, maybe this wouldn’t have been such a big deal," Edwards says. "But it’s just part of the world we’re in now."
Indeed, every other Star Wars movie underwent multiple reshoots — with George Lucas going so far as to add scenes to Empire Strikes Back, the movie Edwards is most trying to emulate, once it had been in theaters for a week.
A rave review from George Lucas
We spoke to Edwards on Sunday, shortly after he’d received word that the Creator himself had seen the final cut of Rogue One — and loved it. Edwards related the story to Mashable.
"I knew he was going to see it, but didn’t know when. Then I was in a meeting at [special effects facility] Industrial Light and Magic, and [Lucasfilm president] Kathy [Kennedy] was late," he said. "We were told ‘don’t worry, it’s for a good reason.’ She came in, George was on the phone, and he’d just watched it.
"I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can die happy now. He liked it a lot … He’s kind of God. I will take that conversation to my grave."
Although Edwards is eager to show the film to as many people as possible — telling journalists he wished he were allowed to show them more than the first 18 minutes — he’s already received the one reaction that matters to him.
"No offense to any critic, but if I could only get one review ever, it would be from George," the director told Mashable. "I feel like life’s not going to get any better than that. I should quit now."
As for the thorny question of whether Rogue One should be seen as a political movie in the Trump era — given that the franchise has long warned of authoritarian leaders taking over a Republic, and that the movie focuses on a racially diverse group of people learning how to resist oppression — Edwards disagrees.
He says it’s more about history and human nature.
"If Star Wars resonates with the times, it’s not because it’s somehow predicted the future — it’s that people are always the same," he says. "We’re stuck in cycles that repeat … If you do Star Wars right and it’s a timeless story, it always, no matter when it comes out, it’ll feel relevant.
"That’s not because the filmmakers are political and trying to make a statement, it’s that humans don’t ever change. We don’t seem to get better at this. Stories just reflect that.
"I’d love to think that one day a story about war would be irrelevant to people. Sadly that’s not the case."