Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opened to box office success and critical acclaim, but perhaps one of its greatest accomplishments was retroactively resolving one of the common criticisms towards the first Star Wars film. Criticized for having a weapon with such a simple but consequential flaw by even some of the most ardent fans, Rogue One revealed that the Death Star’s weakness was purposely designed to facilitate its destruction. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, executive producer John Knoll discussed how he pitched the concept for Rogue One and revealed that he had originally envisioned the story for a potential Star Wars TV series.
Knoll explained that he first conceived the story during production on Revenge of the Sith.
“It’s longer than you might think — it was nine years. The first inklings of trying to tell that story happened in Summer 2003 when we were shooting on “Episode III” in Sydney. I had heard that Lucasfilm was developing stories for a potential live action TV series, and they were active in story development at the time. That was kind of intriguing, and I started thinking about, “What would be a fun thing to do a”s a one-hour episode as a live action ‘Star Wars’ TV show?”
Knoll explained why he dropped the concept after a meeting with producer Rick McCallum.
“One thought was, “What about a ‘Mission Impossible’-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans? There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!” I started tinkering with this idea internally. Then a day or two later, I asked Rick [McCallum], I heard you were developing this TV show. He started telling me about the era that it takes place in, and the themes of the show. As soon as he started going into that, I realized, actually, that idea has no place in that show, so I just dropped it completely.”
Knoll discussed his pitch meeting with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
“So I made the appointment, and I did the pitch to Kathy and Kiri Hart, who’s head of story [at Lucasfilm]. At the end — they listened to the whole thing very politely, and at the end, Kathy said, “All right, well, thank you.” So I got up and left. I didn’t hear anything for a little while. I thought, “All right, well, okay, I did it. I’m not going to wonder.” About a week after, I got an email from Kiri: “We talked about this a lot, and we may want to do something with this.” Then it snowballed into this.”
Knoll explained how much of his original concept survived the development of the script.
“Inevitably, things change a bit. I feel like about 50% of what I wrote survived, which is not terrible. A lot of the major characters are still the major characters that were in that first pitch. Jyn Erso was in the first thing I wrote, as was K-2, and Krennic, and even the character that got renamed but eventually became Cassian. So those were all in what I pitched originally. It still ended [the same]: the very last thing in the movie was with Princess Leia on the Blockade Runner as she gets the plans, and has to decide what they’re going to do.”
You can read the full interview with John Knoll here.
Considering Rogue One has been generally well-received, a number of fans are probably thrilled with the way the events leading up to the film’s production unfolded.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital HD.