There were a lot of famous names in the mouth of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story co-writer Chris Weitz when the subject of the 2016 film’s production problems came up in a recent interview.
Though we already knew that the Gareth Edwards-helmed blockbuster underwent extensive reshoots under the direction of Tony Gilroy, what we’re only just beginning to grasp is the scale and extent of the script-tinkering that went into the Star Wars spinoff movie. Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Weitz listed off several Hollywood screenwriters who were involved in the process, including Mission: Impossible – Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie.
“Gary Whitta did the first draft and then I came in and did a couple of drafts and then after me came Tony Gilroy, Christopher McQuarrie, Scott Burns, I believe David Arndt had some notes on it, and then Tony Gilroy came back on again. And it’s astonishing to me that, for me, from my point of view, how well it turned out, given how many writers were working on it any one time.”
By ‘David Arndt,’ it’s likely that Weitz is referring to The Force Awakens writer Michael Arndt, adding another noteworthy name to this set of scribes. But despite such a range of people leaving their mark on the project, Weitz can take credit for at least one major outcome in the final cut of the film.
“I thought they should all die,” Weitz said. “I think it occurred to Gary and Gareth at one point, but they thought, ‘Oh, Disney will never let us do it.'”
The writer then went on to recall his excitement upon realizing that his bosses at Disney were on board with their idea of killing off all the main characters.
“I was in a meeting with Alan Horn, Gareth, Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart from the [Star Wars] story department and Alan kinda said, ‘Well… I can see how they probably all ought to die because we don’t see them in Star Wars’ and inside I was just jumping for joy,” Weitz said. “Which is a bit gruesome, I suppose, but I thought, this was amazing, we get to do this thing. I think it was important to convey the true seriousness of the galactic civil war.”
Sure enough, even after the fatality-heavy third act of The Last Jedi, the climax of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story might still be the most brutal finale of any film in the franchise to date. And while you might still wonder how the movie would’ve turned out if Gareth Edwards had kept creative control, most viewers would likely agree that the final product holds up a lot better than its messy origins would suggest.