While hardcore fans are learning more about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's primary antagonist Director Orson Krennic thanks to the new novel Catalyst, casual fans don't know much about him at all. Dressed in white, Ben Mendelsohn looks stoic and driven in the trailers and stills for Rogue One, but aside from being the villain and flanked by the black-armored Death Troopers, his exact role in the film has been a mystery in the primary marketing.
Krennic is the Director of something in particular for the Galactic Empire: its Special Weapons division. In the context of this film, that specifically means the Death Star project, fulfilling the Emperor's wish to be able to destroy entire planets at a whim and a push of a button. Of course, that puts him right up against Darth Vader, whose fanatical belief in the Force makes him a skeptic when it comes to man-made weaponry (outside of his trusty lightsaber, naturally).
"It's fair to say Lord Vader and [Krennic] aren't friendly," Mendelsohn told the aptly-named Empire Magazine in their Rogue One blowout feature. "Darth is very much about the Force. Krennic is force - not really down with the whole mystical thing."
Fans reading the novel, which leads into Rogue One, have learned that Krennic has been with the Empire for decades - indeed, he was a Corps of Engineers officer in the army of the Republic during the Clone Wars, before being recruited into the Death Star project before the Empire even existed.
"He is truly a man that has made his own way up the chain through his own abilities. His weapon, for instance, is a very old type of blaster, because he's an old warrior duded. He's been put in charage of making this thing happen. And it's gonna get done!" Mendelsohn said.
That task, making the Death Star a fully armed and operational space station, brings Krennic back to Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), an old colleague of his who did studies on Kyber Crystals, including the possibility of synthesizing them to provide energy to worlds and civilizations deficient in it. His work was twisted into weaponizing the Kyber Crystals, which power the lightsabers of the Jedi and the turbo lasers in Star Destroyers, on a much higher level. While Krennic once saved Erso from imprisonment during the Clone Wars, the film (as trailers have revealed) will show him being much more forcefully recruited into the Empire's work. Because of Galen Erso's involvement, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is then recruited to the Rebel Alliance, and tasked with stealing the plans to the weapon.
With only three weeks until release, fans don't have long to truly meet Director Orson Krennic on the big screen, and see how he and Vader clash.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue Onetells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."
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