In Brief

Star Wars: Rogue One – Felicity Jones 'to return for sequel', Screen Rant says

Entertainment website reports the Rebellion is continuing - but fans should be a little sceptical

Star Wars: Rogue One – What we learnt from the official book

17 May

A preview of the official book to accompany Star Wars: Rogue One has been posted online, revealing a wealth of information about the upcoming film from director Gareth Edwards.

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: The Official Visual Story Guide' was released on the publishing website Edelweiss – possibly "a little too soon", says Den of Geek, as it has since been taken down again. Luckily, the well-known Star Wars fan site Jedi-Bilbliothek took plenty of notes before it disappeared.

Here are some of the most interesting facts gleaned from the new book:

Character names

The most noteworthy highlights of the new information are the names of the characters in the film. While the book's details might not be final, says SlashFilm, "it seems like most of the names at the very least are correct as some of the new names line up with previous rumours" .

  • Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, a highly skilled soldier and warrior
  • Diego Luna plays Captain Cassian Andor, an officer in the Rebel Alliance
  • Jiang Wen plays Baze, a freelance assassin
  • Riz Ahmed plays Bodhi, a rebel soldier
  • Donnie Yen plays Chirrut, who is described as a "spiritual warrior"

In addition there are two as yet unknown actors playing Rebel aliens Bistan and Pao. "Artwork in the book shows Bistan as being quite squat and hairy, while Pao is taller, lizard-like and broad-mouthed like a basking shark," says Den of Geek.

Alan Tudyk

There had been much speculation as to which character Alan Tudyk would be playing and the book reveals the actor, known for Firefly and Dodgeball, will provide the voice for the computer generated enforcer droid K-250. "While most of the text on this page is filler, it does appear that the droid character was a former Empire security droid who somehow joins the film's group of rebel fighters on this daring heist," says SlashFilm.

New ships

A new film inevitably brings new crafts and ships to the Star Wars universe and the book shows a sleek Rebel Starfighter and a new style of Imperial fighter called a Tie Striker. "Both look cool and feel like they would definitely fit in during the New Hope era even though we didn't see them in the original trilogy," says SlashFilm.

Darth Vader

Perhaps the most exciting news is the striking image of Darth Vader looming over the characters on one of the book's inside pages. "Confirmation, if any were needed, that the Dark Lord of the Sith will make an appearance in Rogue One," says Den of Geek.

Rogue One: Darth Vader will return to battle rebel 'terrorists'

10 May

Darth Vader looks set for his first return to the big screen since Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005 after his iconic black armour was spotted in still images from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

According to the well-regarded Making Star Wars news site, three sources have confirmed the authenticity of the pictures. The infamous villain will be "on a mission to save the Empire from 'terrorists'".

Several rumours had previously suggested that he was due to make an appearance in Disney's first Star Wars spin-off.

In November, it emerged that Brian Muir, the original Darth Vader costume sculptor, was working on Rogue One while immediately after Christmas, "we heard a 'dream team' had been assembled for Darth Vader in Rogue One with James Earl Jones being a lock for the voice," Making Star Wars says.

Now, Vader's armour has been seen in pictures from the set, the site's sources claim, and it appears to be a perfect replica of the original suit seen in Star Wars 4: A New Hope.

"The costume is the A New Hope costume down to the fine details," the site says. "The upper armour has the tunic going over the top of the shoulders, just as it did in Episode IV. The belt buckle is the same. The inside of the cape is that shiny type of material. The gloves are identical and not like the ones in the following films. The lights on the belt are the same. The chest piece's lights match perfectly. The mask is not like the symmetrical Revenge of the Sith mask; it appears to look just like the original did. The neck of the mask and the widow’s peak are all there. The lenses have that amber look to them."

Fans reacted with excitement to the news that Darth Vader may return to the long-running series.

"If this description is in fact legit - and let's face it, Ward has an excellent track record of getting things right - then that means Disney/Lucasfilm are going back to the old school Star Wars, which is excellent," says DorkSideOfTheForce.com.

"As a child, watching Star Wars for the first time, there was not a more terrifying villain than Darth Vader, all done-up in his black cape, mask and lighted chest piece with his red lightsaber, and rebreather that made him even more ominous.

"This rumour just makes me even more excited for Rogue One, which has all the pieces and look of a film that takes place before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a time when Anakin Skywalker had just become the cybernetic monster known as Darth Vader."

Although Disney has yet to confirm whether Darth Vader will appear in the film, rumours are already suggesting that Star Wars prequel star Hayden Christensen has been asked to return to the role. However, according to Flickering Myth, "British actor Spencer Wilding has been cast to play the body of Darth Vader".

Rogue One will hit UK theatres on 16 December.

Rogue One: Alden Ehrenreich 'to play young Han Solo'

6 May

After months of casting calls, a new Han Solo has been found, according to reports.

Alden Ehrenreich, who starred in the latest Coen brothers film, Hail Caesar!, has been "tapped up" to play a young incarnation of Harrison Ford's famous Star Wars character, Variety magazine says.

Solo will get his own spin-off film, which is scheduled to begin filming next January, but Ehrenreich is expected to make a brief appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this December.

Sources told Variety that "the reason for the January start may be so that the character may cameo in Rogue One, giving the production time to shoot the scene that introduces the new Han Solo."

Ford has previously offered some advice for any actor thinking of taking the part of Han Solo: "Don't do it."

In an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ford said the role was a poisoned challis for a young actor. "It seems like everything is going swimmingly and you put in 25-30 years and then they just let you go. 'We're done with you, thanks very much,'" he said.

Rogue One: Film will feature several 'iconic characters', says Star Wars actor

5 May

Following his admission that he will be playing Felicity Jones's father in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, actor Mads Mikkelsen has teased fans even more and revealed the film will feature several "iconic characters".

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, the Danish actor promised the return of some familiar faces.

Asked whether the spin-off would feature characters on the same level as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, Mikkelsen replied: " Some of them – but I would reveal too much. There are iconic characters in our film and also characters you have never heard of. It's a mix."

So who will those icons be?

"We know that Darth Vader will play a significant role in the film and there have also been rumours of Grand Moff Tarkin showing up in some capacity," says SlashFilm.

The site says it is even possible to imagine a cameo from Princess Leia.

In another revelation, Mikkelsen also said that Rogue One will feature flashbacks.

"I spend a lot of time with [Jones] and she's a wonderful actress. I play her dad at the time of Felicity, and I play her dad when she's younger, so we jump back and forth in time," he said.

Rogue One will hit UK cinemas on 16 December.

Rogue One: Mads Mikkelsen will play Jyn Erso's father

29 April

Star Wars is famous for couching family dramas within stories of grand galactic adventure and if comments from actor Mads Mikkelsen are anything to go on, Disney's first spin-off film will be no different.

In an interview with Sky news, the Dane revealed he will play the father of Felicity Jones's character, Jyn Erso, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Asked how he felt when he was approached to be in the film, Mikkelsen replied: "A little scared. I mean, I wasn't really sure whether I was wearing a Stormtrooper outfit or anything like that at that point and I wasn't sure I could fit in to that. I read the script. It was very beautiful."

The 55-year-old actor then revealed the part he had been given in the new film, before apologising for having given away too much: "Felicity is playing this lovely, young, strong woman and I play her father. And that was too much, I'm sorry."

Mikkelsen was also asked if he could say whether Darth Vader will appear in the film.

"Yes, I can," he replied with a smile, "but I won't."

Fans have been trying to work out how Rogue One will fit within the overall narrative of the Star Wars universe. Some suggest that a young Han Solo could make an appearance, while others speculate that Jyn Erso may turn out to be the mother of Star Wars 7 heroine, Rey.

So far, however, those involved in the production have insisted the film will have few crossovers with the main Star Wars plot line.

All will be revealed when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released on 14 December.

Rogue One: Will Princess Leia and Darth Vader appear?

21 April

Fans of the Star Wars films are growing increasingly confident that familiar characters from the original trilogy of movies including Darth Vader and Princess Leia will make an appearance in the forthcoming spin-off film, Rogue One.

Princess Leia played a key role in the original Star Wars adventure, but "there's a huge amount we still don't know about her double life as a Senator/Rebel spy," says Movie Pilot, adding that with Rogue One "Lucasfilm has an excellent opportunity to show us a snapshot of Princess Leia's early life."

When Leia Organa first appears in Star Wars 4: A New Hope, she is captured by Darth Vader while trying to smuggle stolen plans for the Death Star. Rogue One follows the story of the team of Rebels who stole those plans in the first place. "And because those plans wound up in Leia's possession, it seems obvious that she should appear in a small way in Rogue One," Movie Pilot says.

Meanwhile, rumours have been swirling for months that Darth Vader will appear in the forthcoming spin-off. These gathered momentum last week when it was suggested that Doctor Who actor Spencer Wilding had been cast to play the masked villain.

While no official confirmation has been offered that Vader will return, Bustle notes that in the recent Rogue One trailer "we do see a dark cloaked figure at the 1:18 mark and faintly hear what could be mistaken as a Darth Vader breath at the 1:29 mark."

Rogue One will not be the last time favourite characters mount 21st century cinematic comebacks. Lucasfilm and Disney are preparing two more spin-off films for 2018 and 2020, which will focus on other famous characters from the original series, including Han Solo and Boba Fett.

Rogue One's release date is 16 December, 2016. 

Rogue One: What we know so far including its release date

18 April

The recent release of Rogue One's trailer was significant for Star Wars fans because information about what exactly we can expect the highly anticipated spin-off film has so far been scant. Filmmakers have succeeded in keeping most details under wraps, but here's what we do know…

When will it hit the screens?

It will be released on December 16, 2016 – a year after the franchise's latest instalment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What is the storyline?

Only basic details have been revealed but it is known that Rogue One will centre on a feral band of resistance fighters who unite for a thrilling mission to steal the Death Star plans and bring new hope to the galaxy.

"It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know," said producer Kathleen Kennedy on the official Star Wars website.

Who will write and direct it?

Gareth Edwards, who previously directed the successful 2014 reboot of monster film Godzilla, has signed up to direct the first spin-off from the Star Wars universe.

His first film, Monsters, was "praised for its low-key approach to the kaiju genre," says Den of Geek, and featured a cast of "luminous, intergalactic creatures forming the ominous backdrop for an atmospheric relationship drama."

So what kind of approach will Edwards take with his spin-off movie? After his appointment, the director said he that Rogue One would offer slightly greater moral ambiguity than previous Star Wars films had done.

"The thing that interests me most about Star Wars is, in terms of what was going on, it was very black and white," Edwards said. "The good guys were very good, and the bad guys were very bad. But our movie is basically the grey that leads to that polarised event that turns into A New Hope. It's the realities of war – a complicated, layered, very rich scenario in which to set a movie."

The film will be written by Gary Whitta best known for The Book of Eli and After Earth with a rewrite by Chris Weitz, writer of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, A Better Life and About a Boy.

How will it differ from the main Star Wars films?

The trailer and remarks by the filmmakers suggest it will be a grittier affair, Edwards said: "The thing that interests me most about Star Wars is, in terms of what was going on, it was very black and white. The good guys were very good, and the bad guys were very bad.

"But our movie is basically the grey that leads to that polarised event that turns into A New Hope. It's the realities of war – a complicated, layered, very rich scenario in which to set a movie."

Who will be in it?

Felicity Jones, who starred opposite Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, has been cast as the leader of the Rebel squad. Firefly's Alan Tudyk and Hannibal/Bond star Mads Mikkelsen will also appear.

Donnie Yen is in the line-up, and says: "I am very proud to be the first Chinese actor cast in Rogue One." He says his character is "good" and "benevolent".

Another cast member could come back from the dead to appear. Peter Cushing, who played Grand Moff Tarkin, died in 1994 but there is talk of him being recreated for Rogue One.

Will it feature a young Han Solo?

Rumour has it that the next Star Wars spin-off film, due to reach cinemas in December 2018 will focus on the adventures of a young Han Solo. And according to reports, Disney and LucasFilm are getting very close to casting a new actor in the role, with dozen actors including Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Logan Lerman, Emory Cohen, Dave Franco, Jack Reynor, Scott Eastwood and Blake Jenner among the names mentioned in connection with the forthcoming film. But if filming isn't due to begin for another two years, why the rush to get the role cast?

According to Variety "sources close to the situation say the reason for such an early decision has more to do with another Star Wars film currently shooting, rather than the untitled Han Solo pic."

The entertainment magazine adds that "while insiders were unable to confirm, the new Solo could have a small cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story before appearing in his own standalone pic."

How can the spin-off hook in fans of the main saga?

ComicBook.com acknowledges the challenge the filmmakers have. It suggests they make "passing hints" to the main saga, while keeping the anthologies "pretty much their own thing". Evan Valentine also argues that Rogue One should be "darker" and "more mature" than the main instalments.

Inquisitr has a trio of suggestions It says fans will want to discover more about the backstory behind the Bothans dying to get the information about the Death Star, a bridging character arc development for Anakin Skywalker, and plenty of Boba Fett.

Have any of the actors dropped any hints?

So far, leaks have been very few and far between and the cast has been tight-lipped about the film. For instance, actor Ben Mendelsohn dodged a question from Deadline over his part in Rogue One.

"I wouldn't want to spoil anything for anyone on those levels," said the Australian actor, who has also turned up in movies including The Dark Knight Rises, Animal Kingdom and Killing Them Softly. "That's always the same, whether it be Bloodline or Star Wars or Neighbours, for that matter... I wouldn't tell.

"But you can expect something pretty special, I'd like to think," he added.

Martial arts film star Donnie Yen has also spoken, albeit briefly, about his "important" role in the tale. "I get some action," he admitted when questioned further.

More revealing are the promotional stills, in which Yen appears with milky eyes and carrying a spear, suggesting he will be playing some kind of blind warrior.

Will there be merchandise?

In case you were worrying, yes, there will be plenty of merchandise. The official Star Wars Instagram account posted an image of the "powerful packaging" for the forthcoming "toys, collectibles and more".

Disney will have to be careful with how it launches its assault on fans' wallets, however, says iDigitalTimes.com.

"Ahead of The Force Awakens' release last year, certain toy merchandising lightly spoiled plot elements of Episode VII," the site says. "With Rogue One treading ground that the Star Wars universe has never explored before, the studio needs to avoid revealing specific details about the movie's characters or climatic moments."

So what kinds of toys will be available? Fan site Jedi News revealed the line-up of Rogue One figurines, including a six-inch Jyn Erso figurine, a Stormtrooper, a medical droid and a doll of Forest Whitaker's character in the film.

There will also be a Lego video game version of the film. An image posted to Lego's official Facebook page last Thursday recreates the first cast shot of Gareth Edwards's upcoming film with blocky versions of Felicity Jones's Erso, as well as characters played by Donnie Yen, Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed.

Rogue One: Doctor Who actor tipped to play Darth Vader

13 April

Although Disney has yet to confirm whether Darth Vader will appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one film website is not only positive the villain will have a part to play, it has even named the actor who will portray him.

Early rumours suggested that Star Wars prequel star Hayden Christiansen would return to the role, but according to FlickeringMyth.com, "British actor Spencer Wilding has been cast to play the body of Darth Vader".

Wilding may not be a household name, but he has appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including Harry Potter, Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones, Batman Begins and Doctor Who.

FlickeringMyth's source "also confirms that Wilding has been running lines while on set, so Darth Vader will have a speaking role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. However he will likely be dubbed by James Earl Jones, just as David Prowse was when he played Vader in the original trilogy." 

Prowse, who starred as the Sith lord in the first three films, is now 80 and unlikely to return to the role, the Radio Times says.

So why has Wilding been given the role? According to the Radio Times, "it's his body that the Rogue One filmmakers are after".

At 6ft 7in, he is "more than a match for original Vader David Prowse," the site says.

All will be revealed about Darth Vader's role in the film when Rogue One is released on 16 December.

Rogue One trailer: Where is Darth Vader?

08 April

The first Rogue One: A Star Wars Story teaser trailer made its debut yesterday and the response has been overwhelmingly positive – AT-ATs, Stormtroopers, X-wing pilots, what more could a Star Wars junkie want? Well, there is one thing…

Even in their excitement, fans couldn't help but notice that Darth Vader was missing. Rumours that the sci-fi saga's infamous villain will appear in the Star Wars Anthology have grown since the series was first announced, but the teaser appeared to bear no trace of him.

Or did it?

Eagle-eyed viewers have latched onto a brief shot of someone who looked awfully familiar, even from the back.

"Might that kneeling black-cloaked figure in the trailer be the evil Sith Lord himself?" asks The Guardian.

That's not the only indication that Vader will play a role in the spin-off. Michelle Lulic at Bustle reckons you can hear the faintest trace of his trademark rasp at the 1:29 mark. Will heroine Jyn Erso, played by British actress Felicity Jones, follow in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker by coming face-to-face with Vader in a climatic showdown?

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Of course, it would make sense for the film-makers to keep Darth Vader under wraps as a trump card for a future trailer, or even keep him out of promotional material altogether.

Fans can take comfort in the fact that those in the know appear confident that the baddie formerly known as Anakin will indeed turn up in Rogue One. Fan site Making Star Wars, often first with scoops, earlier this year claimed to have seen storyboards for the film that featured a far more brutal Vader than portrayed in the original trilogy.

One planned battlefield scene shows "decapitated rebels, people being dismembered by Vader throwing his sword, levitating bodies to make human shields", the site reports.

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