Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the evolution of the story for the first non-Skywalker Star Wars film. He reveals while the initial vision for the film had been of the sacrificial ending fans saw in theaters, the writers weren’t too sure Disney would let them get away with it. So they also wrote a Rogue One alternate ending where some of the Rebels, including heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) ended up escaping Scarif after snagging the precious Death Star plans.
Jyn and Cassian lived to fight another day in the alternate ending of Rogue One. “They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.” Imagining this careful getaway, with the two heroes floating away with the rest of the garbage, one can’t help but think of Han and Leia’s escape in the Falcon from The Empire Strikes Back, where they land the ship on a Star Destroyer to avoid scanner detection. Or the droids escape in A New Hope. Actually, maybe it’s better they didn’t go with the whole “hiding in garbage” trope again...
The early version of the ending also didn’t feature Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) or Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). Unfortunately, one of the film’s most memorable characters, the renegade Imperial droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), never had a ghost of a chance. “I didn’t say everyone made it off,” Whitta clarified. “Kaytoo always died.”
The prospect of fewer characters in Rogue One, in general, actually doesn’t strike us as such a bad idea. The movie often felt a little crowded, and when some of these characters did bite the big one on Scarif, it wasn’t like watching Obi-Wan or Yoda pass on. It just didn’t seem to matter.
Crowded cast aside, it sounds like no one on the creative team felt great about the happier ending. “The original instinct was that they should all die,” Whitta told EW. “It’s worth it. If you’re going to give your life for anything, give your life for this, to destroy a weapon that going to kill you all anyway. That’s what we always wanted to do. But we never explored it because we were afraid that Disney might not let us do it, that Disney might think it’s too dark for a Star Wars movie or for their brand.”
The creative team struggled to make the Rebels’ survival into a satisfying outcome for the film. “The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult,” Whitta says. “We decided they should die on the surface, and that was the way it ended.” Thankfully, when the team approached Lucasfilm and Disney, the ending they wanted was approved.
We’re glad Lucasfilm and Disney saw the light on this. We weren’t 100 percent sold on Rogue One, but one of the best parts of it was the all-in, massacre ending. Do you think it was the right call? Let us know in the comments!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes to DVD and Blu-ray April 4.