Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may be one of the best Star Wars films in recent memory, but its acclaim is largely due to emergency changes made by the Gilroys, the creative geniuses behind Andor on Disney+.
While Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy has yet to improve with age in the eyes, the same can't be said for 2016's Rogue One which has recently been thriving among fans.
The prequel to 1977's A New Hope has found new life in its own prequel spin-off series titled Andor on Disney+, which was created and shepherded by Rogue One's own Tony Gilroy.
Star Wars has always been a family-centric story, and the same applies to this production as Tony and his brother John were famously brought on to recut director Gareth Edwards' version of the 2016 feature.
Now, amidst Andor's Season 1 run on Disney+, John Gilroy has provided new insight into the film's famous reshoots and how the two brothers salvaged the struggling film.
How Andor Showrunners Saved Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
When John Gilroy was asked by The Playlist as to whether he and his brother, Tony Gilroy, were changing things during Rogue One's reshoots or just making adjustments, John confessed they "were really changing things:"
“I don’t know how much I’m supposed to say about it about that, but… it was really changing things and using all the tricks in your bag as an editor to make things work however you need to make them work, you make them work.”
Gilroy went on to explain the extent of those changes, revealing that they "made a new story" and that it was "quite a different story" from the original movie:
“It was actually, I mean… the basic plan was very simple. They had the movie that they had and they called Tony in. And Tony huddled for a while with another editor, who was on already, Colin Goudie… and used a lot of the things that he had discovered when we were working together… and just basically made a new story. It was quite a different story. And then convinced Disney to invest in that story, which was a sizeable investment in time and money. And then it was just realizing what that was. So, it’s a new plan. You’re not just going in and experimenting. No, we had a new blueprint."
As to how John Gilroy approached tackling a new story when there was already an original, the editor claimed, "I didn't pay much attention to the other film," detailing how "a lot of rewriting" happened in a cutting room:
"And so we went in and just did what we did and I had a blueprint. I didn’t pay much attention to the other film except what we’re doing sometimes, is we’re taking a scene and we’re totally retasking things in that scene. I mean, I work with a microphone right next to my AVID. And if I get into a pickle with something, I’ll just mock a line in, an abridged line, or whatever I have to do. And then later on, it’s codified… and then we get the actor to do it. So, there’s a lot of rewriting that can go on in a cutting room if you need to. It’s not something you wanna do… for the first thing, if everybody wrote really great scripts and executed them perfectly, there’d be no need for that. But, things happen and that’s another elevated level to change the trajectory of a story or a film. And that’s something that people do.”
While large-scale reshoots for tentpole films are anything but unusual, the editor noted that "you can't do that in television," a medium that he and Tony are currently working with for Andor, and that can be a good thing:
"When you start to experiment, which is what a lot of big features do, you know… A lot of big features, they go in, they have a weak third act, and then they shoot it, and then they see what they have, and then they go back for all these gigantic reshoots, and yeah… That’s a very expensive way of working. I mean, you can’t do that in television. I think the austerity breeds a certain kind of genius, because it sort of makes you, it focuses you on what you have to do.”
John isn't the first Gilroy to comment on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's issues.
In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Tony Gilroy referred to the original film's "confusion" and "mess," but also how its problem was "very, very simple to solve:"
“If you look at Rogue, all the difficulty with Rogue, all the confusion of it … and all the mess, and in the end when you get in there, it’s actually very, very simple to solve. Because you sort of go, ‘This is a movie where, folks, just look. Everyone is going to die.’ So it’s a movie about sacrifice.”
Much like John, Tony Gilroy has also hinted at the lengths to which the film changed, stating that his credit for penning the screenplay was "easily won:"
“I came in after the director’s cut. I have a screenplay credit in the arbitration that was easily won."
While there's no doubt that the Force was strong with Gilroy in his handling of the Rogue One wreckage, he's admittedly not a Star Wars fan:
“I’ve never been interested in Star Wars, ever. So I had no reverence for it whatsoever. I was unafraid about that.”
This is surprising given how Rogue One is the darling of the Disney Star Wars era in terms of film, especially in contrast to The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker which were both directed by self-proclaimed Star Wars fans.
Gilroy described how the movie was in "so much terrible, terrible trouble" that only improvements could be made:
"And they were in such a swamp … they were in so much terrible, terrible trouble that all you could do was improve their position.”
What Rogue One Would've Been
Just what the original director's cut of Rogue One looked like is unknown and probably always will be.
What fans do know, apart from the details John Gilroy just shared, is that multiple crawls and titles were originally considered for Rogue One. The scrapped cut also saw K-2SO being the only casualty, Vader going on a Scarif beach rampage, and Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso entering a full-fledged romance.
While it would've been interesting to see these ideas explored on-screen, the fact that the Gilroys came aboard Rogue One post-directors cut and executed a new vision that fans loved is a bit of a miracle.
In retrospect, it's no wonder that Lucasfilm embraced their vision for Andor which, like Rogue One, is also succeeding with fans and critics.
Given how expertly the two salvaged the 2016 film and have crafted the Disney+ series, it will be fascinating to see how Andor's two-season run will lead directly into the opening of Rogue One and how the two will complement one another.
Also, since the Gilroys are so successfully navigating that galaxy that they never had an affinity for, the question now is whether they have any other ideas for the Star Wars universe post-Andor.
And, if they do, will their future tales will continue on Disney+? Or perhaps make a return to the big screen?
New episodes of Andor debut on Wednesdays on Disney+.