This is the forward by Gareth Edwards in The Ultimate Guide to Rogue One by Entertainment Weekly, and he is you’ll agree ‘after you read this’ the ultimate Star Wars fanboy.
As a kid growing up in Britain, Gareth Edwards watched A New Hope every single day. That youthful obsession led him straight to the director’s chair on Rogue One.
I WAS JUST 2 YEARS OLD WHEN STAR WARS, A New Hope came out in the cinema. Being so young, I don’t really remember the world before it. It was just sort of always there. My first real memory of seeing the film was on videotape, I think just after my parents bought a Betamax player. I was about 7 years old. Knowing my neighbour had a tape of Star Wars, I immediately ran next door and I asked if I could borrow it. With the tape in hand, I returned home to play it and got as far as the scene of C-3PO walking down the corridor in the blockade runner before my mum shouted at me for dinner I remember stopping the tape and eating as fast as I could and, at that moment, knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life … I was going to watch this film over and over until the day I died.
So each morning before school I would sit in my pyjamas with some cereal and just hit play on that tape. I would get through about the first 15 minutes until l was forced to get ready. Then the next morning I would rewind the tape and watch the opening again and again each day, learning the first act by heart. In my youthful mind, I
“OF ALL THE STAR WARS MOVIES …BEING CONSIDERED FOR PRODUCTION, THIS ONE, ROGUE ONE, FELT THE MOST PERSONAL TO ME”
thought, this is what the world can be; I can become Luke Skywalker and live in an incredible world of exciting possibilities. It really made me excited about growing up and wondering at all the things I could do. At some point, however, I started to realise that perhaps I’m not going to be able to join the Rebel Alliance and destroy the Death Star, and in fact this whole thing was some form of lie called a “film.” So the second best option was, well, maybe I become a liar too and make films instead.
I grew up and went to film school and made a lot of short films but ultimately couldn’t get a job directing anything. It seemed like such an Impossible thing to break into. But my flatmate at university happened to be studying this new thing called computer animation and it was clearly going to be the future of filmmaking. So I bought a computer and got sidetracked for 10 years learning visual effects and animation.
I then turned 30 and for my birthday went to Tunisia, where they shot the location of my favourite scenes from Star Wars: where Luke looks off towards the setting suns. To me, that’s the most important moment because it’s all about the future, about this aspiration of wanting to do something better with your life. It’s that excitement of the blank page. In the end I got a photograph of me in the same spot as Luke at sunset. It was so surreal to see this place actually existed (albeit with just one sun). That it wasn’t a far-off dream, but a real tangible place that you could stand in. I felt Inspired and determined more than ever to become a director. Of all the Star Wars movies I’ve heard about being considered for production, this one, Rogue One, felt the most personal to me. To be offered what’s essentially the prologue to A New Hope, the closest thing you can get to those first 15 minutes I watched over and over as a child, it felt like destiny in a way. It was like the inner message of Star Wars that if you believe In something enough and try not to give up, you can make anything happen.
When I was young, I always thought my hero was Luke Skywalker. But as I got older I began to realise it was actually George Lucas. The amazing thing about what he did is that he didn’t just inspire me and a generation with a brilliant film, be also gave us the tools to do something of our own. He invested in and pushed the technology for digital editing, digital cameras and computer graphics. I made my first film, Monsters, because I could afford to do it for very little money. I shot it on a pro digital camera and did all the visual effects on a home computer, technology that would have come about eventually but, if he hadn’t pushed it, might have missed me. So I’ve got two debts to George Lucas.
I just wish someone had told me when I was 5 that I was going to direct a Star Wars movie, because I would have spent the last 40 years thinking about how I’d do it. But it’s a team sport, Star Wars. It doesn’t belong to me or any other filmmaker. We are just lucky enough to borrow it for a time. Thanks to George and Lucasfilm, the world owns Star Wars now. lt belongs to everyone
l got to do a million amazing things on this film that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life processing. But in the thick of it, all you’re really trying to do is block out all the craziness and just concentrate on making the best film possible. One day, when all me dust has settled, I know I’ll look back and realise just how lucky I have been. It’s been the ultimate passion project, and I just hope you’ll enjoy watching it as much as we all loved making it.