‘Rogue One’ Director Overwhelmed by ‘Star Wars’ Experience, Forced to Step Away From Hollywood

in Entertainment, Star Wars

The cast of 'Rogue One' in the official movie poster

Credit: Lucasfilm

When Rogue One (2016), the critically-acclaimed prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), arrived in theaters in December 2016, it became an instant smash hit phenomenon credited with revitalizing interest in the once-dying Star Wars franchise. But with success comes a price—an idea director Gareth Edwards is all too familiar with.

star wars rogue one jyn erso cassian andor
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: ‘Rogue One’ Writer Reveals if the Alternate Version Will Ever be Released

All things considered, Rogue One is without a doubt one of the best Star Wars projects to come out of Disney after the company purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for a whopping $4.05 billion. While the company has had several misfires since, including Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), the ill-fated Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), and controversial Disney+ originals like the Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, Rogue One has remained unscathed, and even received a prequel of its own in 2022.

darth vader rogue on a star wars story
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: Return of ‘Rogue One’ Character Likely In Season 2 of ‘Andor’

Andor, which landed on Disney’s streamer in August of last year, was initially met with mixed reviews from fans, who weren’t too sure of its slow-burn pacing, lightsaber devoid action sequences, and gritty, mature undertone that set it apart from the typical lighthearted space romps George Lucas Star Wars projects audiences are all too familiar with.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Credit: Lucasfilm

But over time, fans came to appreciate the prequel series, citing its high-stakes, suspense, impressive sets, and stellar performances from its main cast (comprised of Diego Luna, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Stellan Skarsgård, among others) in their positive reviews. Critics had high praise for Andor as well, with its first season landing Lucasfilm its first ever Peabody Award in May.

Interestingly enough, despite managing to capture the same magic as its predecessor, fans might’ve noticed a bit of an oddity regarding Andor: Rogue One director Gareth Edwards had nothing to do with it. Instead, Tony Gilroy, who acted as a writer on the beloved Star Wars film, created the spinoff series, and will continue showrunner duties for its second and final season on Disney+. As of last month, Edwards revealed that he still hadn’t even seen Andor.

Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) heads to meet Saw Gerrera in 'Andor'. Credit: Lucasfilm
Credit: Lucasfilm

But why did Gareth Edwards choose not to be involved in Andor? According to a recent interview, it’s for a very good reason. While speaking SFX Magazine in their latest issue, the director, who got his start directing sci-fi indie darlings like Monsters (2010) before getting his big break with Godzilla (2014), revealed that he needed a bit of a career gap after helming the Star Wars prequel.

During the interview, Edwards compared his time directing a big-budget Star Wars film to being on a “merry-go-round,” adding that he “needed to get off” before he got typecasted into making the same kind of sci-fi blockbuster over and over again:

I needed to get off the merry-go-round, do you know what I mean? In Hollywood, you can get stuck on the hamster wheel, or whatever analogy you want to use. I just wanted to get off and have a break to take some time thinking about the next thing.

Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic in 'Rogue One' (2016)
Credit: Lucasfilm

Considering the sci-fi genre tends to back great directors into a corner in terms of creativity, it’s not surprising that Edwards wanted out before it was too late. Disney and Lucasfilm have also been known for heavily interfering in their productions, which debatably takes away the job of a director in favor of simply inserting their vision into the next chronological story.

And beyond that, Disney has a track record of pulling from the same pool of repeat directors, meaning Edwards could’ve gotten roped into even more Star Wars projects down the line, without getting a chance to come down from the high of his first studio hit.

Grand Moff Tarkin looking at the Death Star in 'Rogue One' (2016)
Credit: Lucasfilm

While Edwards didn’t outwardly criticize Disney, per se, he did admit his success meant there was no industry-imposed “director’s jail” for him to grapple with. Instead, it was more of an existential one, with Edwards looking back on his days of making low-budget movies with reverence and wondering if giving them a Star Wars-sized budget would’ve made them all the more better.

With Rogue One, the director claimed that it was “kind of a shock to have all the money you could ever want,” but that it could “still be limited,” possibly referring to Disney’s studio interference on the film. As a result, his quest to create a similar “kind of scenario” to his early films like Monsters led him to his upcoming sci-fi epic, The Creator (2023):

I got to make a very low-budget science fiction film with ‘Monsters,’ and I realized there were some serious advantages to having no money. It was kind of a shock to have all the money you could ever want, and still be limited. I felt like if I could somehow get that big bag of cash and send it back in time to me when I was making ‘Monsters,’ the possibilities would have been infinite. And so, in a weird way, I was trying to find that kind of scenario again. I was as much interested in the process of how to make the film as I was the idea.

mads mikkelsen as galen erso in rogue one
Credit: Lucasfilm

Edwards’ musings on whether or not big budgets make a movie “good” are far from a new debate, but it does speak to the issue of which kinds of IPs are funded in Hollywood today. Instead of giving creative visionaries like Edwards their big break early on into their careers, resulting in explosive, generation-defining movies like The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022), studios are only greenlighting sequels and reboots, leaving industry newcomers in the dust. Or worse, their low-budget directorial debuts unseen by the masses.

Thankfully, The Creator seems to have formed a bridge between his low-budget roots and big studio backing for Edwards, with early trailers teasing mind-boggling CGI that looks straight out of the future, while not necessarily having the mind-boggling budgets of a studio like Lucasfilm or a familiar name like Star Wars.

Hopefully, this was a better experience for Edwards, and allowed to become more creative with how he could pull of certain visual effects, bringing him full-circle on his early days as a filmmaker. And based on early reviews, it looks like his next sci-fi romp might just rival Rogue One.

The Creator arrives in theaters on September 29, 2023.

What do you think of Gareth Edwards needing a career break after the success of Rogue One? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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