The Force is strong with Sky Cinema this month, with the premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie – a prequel to A New Hope which dovetails neatly into the events of the first Star Wars movie – stars Felicity Jones and Diego Luna as part of a team of Rebels tasked with stealing the plans to the Death Star. It being a Star Wars movie, there are tonnes of Easter eggs and cool trivia titbits to uncover. For example, did you know...
Threepio and K2-SO don't get on
Alan Tudyk provided the motion-capture for Imperial droid K2-SO and joked that Threepio actor Anthony Daniels called him a rude word when he learned he didn't have to wear a heavy bodysuit on set like he did. When Tudyk saw Daniels at the movie's afterparty, he asked for his opinions on his performance, to which Daniels simply said a very rude word. All light-hearted fun between off-duty droids, of course.
All of the feelings
K2-SO gets the lion's share of Rogue One's best lines, and he gets the most iconic line of dialogue too. When he, Jyn and Cassian are ascending the tower on Scarif, he says "I have a bad feeling about this," joining a list of Star Wars greats who have felt the same bad vibes.
Edwards and his casting team reportedly whittled down the options for blind Jedi warrior Chirrut Îmwe to two martial arts legends: Donnie Yen and Jet Li. The Romeo Must Die actor allegedly asked for $10 million which was out of Edwards' price range, so Yen ended up getting the role – and it was apparently his idea to make Îmwe blind in an homage to the blond swordsman character Zatoichi.
Rogue One is the only Star Wars movie to introduce locations with an on-screen caption, but the one planet we're not introduced to is the one where Darth Vader lays his helmet. This planet is Mustafar and the production design was based on an unused Ralph McQuarrie from 1977. Mustafar, you may remember, was the planet on which Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi duelled in Revenge of the Sith.
Speaking of familiar planets, watch carefully in Jyn's flashback to her childhood with her father, and you can just about make out the bustling city planet of Coruscant out the window, as Galen talks Death Star plans with Orsen Krennic.
Rebels in the house
Though Rogue One director Gareth Edwards didn't want to feature characters from the Disney XD animation Star Wars Rebels, he did want to reference them: you can see their ship, Ghost, in the space battle above Scarif, and sassy droid Chopper can be seen on Yavin IV.
Son of a pitch
LucasFilm exec John Knoll came up with the story of Rogue One after the Disney buyout, when he found himself underwhelmed by the potential Star Wars movie projects he'd heard were on the slate. Knoll put a concept reel together and pitched the idea of Rogue One, eventually taking it to Kathleen Kennedy, who loved it and put it into production.
Follow the leader
X-Wing pilots Red Leader and Gold Leader, present in the first Star Wars movie back in '77, were cleverly spliced into the Rogue One final battle using archive footage. Original actor Angus MacInnes even recorded new dialogue for Gold Leader.
Rogue One is a groundbreaking Star Wars movie in many ways. For a start, it is the first Star Wars movie not to have an 'Episode' in the title, and it is the first Star Wars movie where no Skywalker characters feature – no one even mentions their name.
Rogue One is also the first Star Wars movie not to feature any lightsabers, in a conscious move to take the story focus away from the Jedi and on to the rest of the universe. Rogue One is also the first movie to have no opening crawl and no George Lucas-esque transition wipes between scenes.
Although Rogue One doesn't feature the trademark opening crawl, one was written – except no one is allowed to see it. Writer Gary Whitta put one together for the first draft of the movie, but it was deemed surplus to requirements, and has not been released to the public. “It's not mine to share,” said Whitta on Twitter. “I wrote it but LucasFilm owns it.” Interestingly, the entire plot to Rogue One basically fleshes out the entire opening crawl to A New Hope – maybe that's why it was removed...
Your mother was a Jedi
Early drafts of the movie had Jyn's mother Lyra as a Jedi, and although this was later revised, the kyber crystal necklace she leaves her daughter - an extremely rare white crystal - is a nice nod. The Aurebesh inscription translates as "Trust the Force".
The character of Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker, was originally written for the ill-fated live-action Star Wars TV show, Star Wars: Underworld. When that project was canned, Gerrera was written into animation Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and he's since appeared in Star Wars Rebels too.
Reshoots and leaves
Composer Alexandre Desplat provided a rip-roaring soundtrack for an early cut of Rogue One – as heard in all of the trailers – but had to be altered to take in changes in tone and story due to reshoots, and Desplat was unavailable. Replacement composer Michael Giacchino, who scored The Force Awakens, was brought in with only one month left to write the score. And a great job he did too.
Gareth Edwards cast himself in his own Star Wars movie - the director plays a key role in the last scenes of the movie. Edwards plays a rebel soldier on board the Tantive IV who disengages the ship from Admiral Raddus, effectively ensuring the safety of the Death Star plans. There's only one man for the job!
There is a certain amount of mystery regarding the reshoots to Rogue One: 12 weeks were commissioned and director Gareth Edwards was not present. Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy was brought in and was paid $5 million to get the movie over the finish line, hiring his brother John to re-edit the new footage. Edwards still has the sole directorial credit on the movie.
Rebels: now hiring
During the movie's final battle above the island paradise of Scarif, you can just make out an X-Wing with the call-sign 'Red Five' - only he crashes and burns no sooner has he made his entrance. This is how Luke is able to claim the call-sign Red Five in A New Hope.
You might notice that there are several shots in the Rogue One trailers that didn't make it into the final cut, including the money shot at the end of the first international trailer, where a TIE Fighter rises up to meet Jyn's gaze at the top of the Scarif communications tower. That shot was part of the third act which was completely rewritten, but LucasFilm loved the shot so much, they left it in the trailer despite knowing it wouldn't be in the finished film.
The milk is off
Look closely in Galen's farmhouse in the movie's opening scenes and you'll see a delicious and nutritious breakfast that's ubiquitous throughout the Star Wars universe - the same iconic blue milk first seen on Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's dinner table.
Monsters monsters everywhere
Saw Gerrera's cave décor leaves a lot to be desired, but there are some cool Easter eggs to be spotted, including primitive drawings on the wall of Mutos, the radioactive alien monsters as fought by Godzilla in Gareth Edwards 2014 monster movie. Bring on Star Wars Vs Godzilla in 2028.
Inspiration comes from the strangest places. Gareth Edwards hadn't yet named the planet that Rogue One's final battle takes place on when he popped into Starbucks for a coffee. When the barista asked his name, the director replied “It's Gareth” only to find the word “Scareth” scrawled on the cup when he received it. Scareth became Scarif and that's how a planet is born.
Canary Wharf tube station doubled for the Empire's communications base in Scarif; eagle-eyed commuters spotted it right away in the trailers, but maybe it's not obvious to those who don't schlep through East London every day on the way to work. Somehow we doubt Darth Vader would be pleased with the delays on the Jubilee Line.
Where there's a Whill there's a way
Chirrut speaks of an ancient order of shamans called 'The Whills', which is a reference to George Lucas's original manuscripts of the first Star Wars story, back when it was called Star Wars: Journal of the Whills. Legend has it, every Star Wars tale is being told from the journal of the Whills, which was to be the saga's framing device.
Dr Evazan, we presume
If you thought the rude pair of wrong'uns that bump into Jyn on Jedha looked familiar, you'd be right: they are Ponda Baba and Dr Cornelius Evazan, best known for starting trouble with Luke Skywalker in the Tattooine Cantina. Fun fact: Evazan was played by Michael Smiley in a cool cameo role.
Thought one of the Rebels looked familiar? How's your knowledge of early 2010 British hip hop? That's right, Corporal Tonc is played by Jordan Stephens, otherwise known as 'Rizzle' from musical outfit Rizzle Kicks. More British pop stars in Star Wars movies, we say! The petition for a Liam Payne cameo in The Last Jedi starts (and ends) here!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available on Sky Cinema from Friday 11 August.
Don’t have Sky Cinema? You can find out about our Sky Cinema package and upgrade here