Traditionally, Star Wars’ heroes have been messiah figures: Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, Luke his incredibly powerful son, and it’s safe to say that there’s more to Rey than meets the eye, in spite of her insistence that she’s “just a scavenger”. As if to hammer home the point, the first teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story began with a roll call of Jyn Erso’s various transgressions – she’s no wet-behind-the-ears farmgirl or yippee-spewing child of prophecy.
“Jyn isn’t someone who’s looking to be a heroine,” says actress Felicity Jones, who leads the cast off the back of outstanding performances in the Oscar-winning The Theory Of Everything and genre tear-jerker A Monster Calls. “She’s had an experience of life, she’s someone who very much finds herself having to really toughen up and embrace the situation that she’s in, but it’s definitely something she’s thrown into; she’s not out looking for it.”
It’s a view that director Gareth Edwards very much concurs with: “I didn’t want to have a central character where they were born to save the galaxy – that feels like what A New Hope did, so really it’s someone who wasn’t necessarily born to do anything, and something happened to them in their life that put them on a different path. They weren’t destined to be a saviour, and they weren’t necessarily destined to have the life they ended up having.
“The idea was that she wasn’t supposed to have this life. Because of what happens to her when she’s young, the life she was destined to have is shattered, and she ends up like a soldier, so I wanted it to feel like this is a woman who’s pre-destined to be like this, and that she’s rose to the challenge, but inside there somewhere there’s a little vulnerability. You can see the crack in the armour, and that she might not make it. I think it was more interesting to have someone that wasn’t totally badass to the point where you never felt like they could lose – there’s a side to it where you do worry about her, and you think that she might not make it out of the film.”
“All of the Rebels in Rogue One are unlikely heroes,” adds Jones. “They are brought together in the galaxy, but they’ve all had histories and they’ve all had their own struggles to overcome, so there’s a real unity in them, and that’s partly what brings them together: hope. There’s a willingness for all of them; they’re finding their purpose, and in some ways they’ve been quite disparate. There’s been a loss, so they come together to unite on something that they really care about.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released in cinemas on 15 December 2016. For all the latest movie news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.