Rogue One: A Star Wars Story doesn't just fill in the blanks of the opening credits crawl in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, or just bring a new cast of heroes into the world. It doesn't just tell you how exactly that powerful Death Star laser was made, or even just launch the "Star Wars Story" line of standalone films. It's also bringing a new genre that Star Wars ironically hasn't explored in film before: the war film.
Rather than a big, galaxy-spanning battle, Rogue One focuses on the reality of war for individual soldiers. It was something that surprised actor Alan Tudyk, who did full performance capture for the droid K-2SO, during filming. His level of realism was already aschew, of course, thanks to his motion capture suit and stilts to make him over seven feet tall, but during filming, it was more about being "in the trenches" than massive beasts and hundred foot walking tanks. Director Gareth Edwards was right there with the actors, Tudyk told Comicbook.com during an interview in San Francisco, holding the camera himself as they ran through an action scene that felt more out of a WWII movie than a Star Wars film while they were shooting.
"A lot of [his hands-on camera work] was in the action, that's when he'd really take the reins, in the action sequences and things. He says, 'In the trenches' literally, he means literally, he was in the trenches, in our many trenches we were in over the course of the movie. The type of direction he would give was a lot of like, 'Look over there, you see this right now.'
"They're like, 'Here, there's your line. Run from here to there. Don't vary, don't go off your line, because you're really going to want to,' so you're running down the beach. We just want running through sand with other troops. A spaceship, a ship, they got it on the crane, comes down, a gunner is there, he's an alien. The guy on the gun is an alien gunner, the ship touches down just barely they've got those, doing smoke as it comes down. Troops come out either side, pile out, it takes back off and goes over our head. Now that's happening as we're running over."
It sounds exciting enough on its own. Tudyk said there were real-time explosions, people flying through the air... and then he saw the finished product. When Tudyk and most of the rest of the cast watched Rogue One at Skywalker Sound Theatre on Thursday night, he was blown away by how it was transformed.
"[When filming], Gareth's there saying, 'Look, there's an AT-AT. Look over your shoulder, there's an AT-AT. Now run this way, there's an AT-AT shooting at you,'" he said. When filming, he gave a sarcastic "oh noooo." "And then to watch the movie and see a f***ing AT-AT there, it's so thrilling."
The moment was when he hit a new level of realizing he was actually in a Star Wars movie (even if it's not his own face, but the metal face of a robot).
"[It hit me on] a second, third, fourth, fifth level. Because I experienced, in those scenes, I was experiencing those as a war movie."
Tudyk's excitement was palpable, and with all the talk from executives about this being very much inspired by classic films about WWII, hearing a true on-the-ground story of how it came to life, merging the reality with the high science-fantasy of Star Wars should fascinate fans.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters December 16, 2016.
More Star Wars News: How Rogue One Opens Without a Crawl | Spoiler-Free Review of First 30 Minutes of Rogue One | Star Wars: Rogue One Director Wants An Obi-Wan Movie | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Jyn Erso Featurette Released | Rogue One Star Diego Luna Did Military Training and Own Stunts in Star Wars | George Lucas Loves Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Exclusive: Star Wars Director Gareth Edwards Relieved at Positive Reaction to Rogue One