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REBELS ROGUE ONE COLLECTOR’S COVER CHOOSE YOUR SIDE: ARE YOU WITH THE REBELS OR THE EMPIRE

TRADING CARD

THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE STAR WARS SAGA

FEATURING THE STARS OF

ROGUE ONE !

THE VOICE OF

THE EMPIRE 5

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ROGUE ONE

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LOOK OUT FOR: Stickers Blueprints Heroes of The Rebel Alliance Villains of The Galactic Empire Character Icons Gallery Cards Montages The second 5 of 15 Darth Vader continuity cards Plus! Look for autographs from the cast of the movie and sketch cards featuring artwork from some of the very best Star Wars artists!


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a FEBRUARY 2017 a

EDITOR’S WELCOME THIS ISSUE...

EDITORIAL Editor Jonathan Wilkins Senior Executive Editor Divinia Fleary Art Editor Oz Browne Copy Editor Simon Hugo Editorial Assistant Tolly Maggs

06 LAUNCHPAD 14 FELICITY JONES 20 MCQUARRIE’S DEATH STAR 24 FOREST WHITAKER

Senior Editor Frank Parisi Editor Brett Rector Image Archives Newell Todd, Erik Sanchez, Bryce Pinkos, Tim Mapp Art Director Troy Alders CONTRIBUTORS Tricia Barr, Neil Edwards, Tolly Maggs Amy Ratcliffe, James Burns, Megan Crouse, and Dan Wallace SPECIAL THANKS TO Erich Schoeneweiss at Random House, Tracy Cannobbio and Chris Argyropoulos at Lucasfilm

Production Manager Obi Onuora Production Supervisors Maria Pearson & Jackie Flook Production Assistant Peter James Art Director Oz Browne Senior Sales Manager Steve Tothill Subscriptions Executive Ben Alvarez Turner Direct Sales & Marketing Manager Ricky Claydon Brand Manager, Marketing Lucy Ripper Commercial Manager Michelle Fairlamb U.S. Advertising Manager Jeni Smith Publishing Manager Darryl Tothill Publishing Director Chris Teather Operations Director Leigh Baulch Executive Director Vivian Cheung Publisher Nick Landau DISTRIBUTION US Newsstand: Total Publisher Services, Inc. John Dziewiatkowski, 630-851-7683 US Distribution: Source Interlink, Curtis Circulation Company UK Newsstand: Comag, 01895 444 055 US/UK Direct Sales Market: Diamond Comic Distributors SUBSCRIPTIONS US subscriptions: 1-800-261-6502, email: customerservice@ titanpublishingusa.com UK subscriptions: 0844 576 7858 email: swmag@servicehelpline.co.uk For more info on advertising contact

adinfo@titanemail.com STAR WARS INSIDER JAN/FEB 2017 (USPS 003-0027) (ISSN 1041-5122) Star Wars Insider is published eight times per year (January February/ March, April, May/June, July, August/September, October, November/December) by Titan Magazines, a division of Titan Publishing Group Limited, 144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP. Contents © 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved, Titan Authorized User. TMN 13429

28 ALAN TUDYK

“May the Force be with us.”

35 RIZ AHMED 42 DONNIE YEN

—Jyn Erso, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A

dmit it, you’ve always wondered how Princess Leia got her regal hands on those Death Star plans. It’s one of the saga’s most intriguing secrets, hidden in plain sight, right there at the very start of the first Star Wars movie. One of the greatest, most pivotal stories, left untold until now... Who were those brave souls who defied the Empire and helped give the Rebel Alliance its first major victory against its Imperial foes? What were the costs of their success? Well, it’s time to find out as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fills in that crucial little detail from the opening crawl to A New Hope. It’s really exciting to finally meet Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, and the rest of the team. It feels like they’ve been waiting in the wings forever, waiting for their chance to show the part they played in the galactic struggle! In this issue of Insider we’re meeting the talented actors who have assembled to tell the story of Rogue One, and showcasing some great photos from the movie. We’ve also taken a look at the Death Star, from the amazing Ralph McQuarrie images that first visualized the look of the fearsome space station to some of the collectibles that it has inspired by Rogue One. It might be a symbol of terror in the galaxy far, far away, but there’s something about the Empire’s ultimate weapon that makes us love it back here on Earth. Don’t forget to write to us using the address on the right. We’d love to hear what you think of the movie!

46 JIANG WEN 52 THE DEATH STAR 58 MADS MIKKELSEN 62 CATALYST INTERVIEW 67 BEN MENDELSOHN 74 DIEGO LUNA 78 BANTHA TRACKS 81 DEATH STAR QUIZ 84 ESSENTIAL ROGUE ONE COLLECTIBLES 90 VOICE OF THE EMPIRE

CONTACT US email us: starwarsinsider@titanemail.com visit us: www.titanmagazines.com write to us: UNITED STATES Star Wars Insider, Titan Magazines, 2819 Rosehall Lane, Aurora, IL, 60503, U.S.A. UNITED KINGDOM Star Wars Insider, 144 Southwark Street London SE1 0UP, U.K.

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A L L T H E C O O L N E W S F R O M T H E S TA R WA R S U N I V E R S E by Amy Ratcliffe

ANOVOS DISPLAYS

DEATH TROOPERS D

eath troopers are elite soldiers in Imperial Intelligence, and when they’re not protecting and serving, they’re traveling to far-off places like Earth. Imposing death trooper statues from ANOVOS have been popping up around the world at conventions and other events. The life-size statues are ideal for creating incredible photo memories, but what if they’re more than stationary objects? Remember, ANOVOS did similar statues featuring stormtroopers for The Force Awakens and they eventually sold screen accurate, wearable armor and helmets for those stormtroopers. Visit ANOVOS online to see if they’ve followed suit with death troopers.

6 INSIDER


HER UNIVERSE GOES

ROGUE

W

hether you’re seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the first time or the tenth, Her Universe has new apparel inspired by the film to keep you looking as fashionable as Director Krennic (okay, maybe not as fashionable, since his cape is a thing of beauty). For Imperial followers, Her Universe has released a Death Star dress. The scoop-neck design features an all-over print of the Death Star plans and the Imperial symbol. These are the kind of plans you should pay for instead of stealing. Her Universe didn’t leave the rebels out. For those pursuing more light side endeavors, they have a colorful chiffon top featuring a galactic Rebel Alliance starbird against a field of stars with an X-wing. The flowing black shirt calls out Rogue One in text. You can find the new releases in Disney Parks (shop their app if you can’t make it to the theme parks in person).

THE HAN SOLO MOVIE TAKES SHAPE AS

LANDO IS CAST W

hile Rogue One hits cinema screens this month, plans are already underway for the next Star Wars standalone movie. The as-yetuntitled Han Solo movie will feature the early adventures of the saga’s premier scoundrel. Naturally the film will feature Han’s second best friend (after Chewbacca), the suave charmer, Lando Calrissian, and who better to play him than Donald Glover? The movie will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and written by Jon and Lawrence Kasdan. It stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, and is currently slated for a May, 2018 release.

INSIDER 7


INTRODUCING JYN ERSO IN (ACTION FIGURE) ACTION

F

elicity Jones had the honor of showing off the first Jyn Erso action figure when she took the stage during the Rogue One panel at Celebration Europe. As soon as the toy was revealed, Hasbro released a new Rogue One poster starring the Jyn Erso figure on Jedha taking out stormtroopers in a fierce battle. The image was created by artist Stephen Hayford. He uses a combination of craft and set/diorama building and photography to tell his own stories within the Star Wars universe, and he jumped at the opportunity to work on the Hasbro project. He received the assignment in May, only two months before Celebration, and completed the set in June. Given that more details about Rogue One weren’t really revealed until Celebration, Hayford had limited information to base his diorama on. “I was told I could only work from the existing trailer and a few reference photos from the set. I was not privy to story points or other details, which is good and bad. Bad for accuracy’s sake, obviously, but good because I can still be an unspoiled fan in the movie theater in December,” he said. He had a similar situation when he created art for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He said he learned lessons from that assignment: “In that project, I attempted to use my sleuthing skills in putting together an ultimate scene. I used objects in different scenes (like the Jakku fence line around the shipyard) to draw conclusions about the layout of the location. In the end, I found out I was wrong—I had spent several weeks building a prop that couldn’t exist in the scene

8 INSIDER

my poster was depicting. That hurt.” With that experience in his mind, he decided to play it safe and use the scene we saw play out in the first trailer. He made it a little different. “I was given artistic license to reverse the angle to see the more simplified part of the set, without the Jedha skyline. I knew the focus was the convention-exclusive figure of Jyn Erso in her Jedha outfit. Her fight scene with the stormtroopers in the alley was the perfect choice. I received a beautiful selection of set photography, giving me superbly detailed views of the entire alley. As a security measure to ensure I didn’t release any images, the photos were emblazoned with my name; and they could only be viewed on a secure drive when I was disconnected from the internet.” Every angle and pose in images like this is a deliberate choice. Hayford drew upon the strength and determination we saw in Jyn in the first footage to establish an attitude for the figure. “From her subtle glances as she’s brought into the Massassi temple to her line, ‘This is a Rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.’ When we hear that line in the trailer, it’s as a voiceover on top of the fight scene depicted in the poster. She’s beating stormtroopers with a baton! And her motions are so aggressive and follow through so complete. She is clearly going to be a skilled and confident hero,” Hayford explained. “The first batch of reference photos I received appeared to be photos from fight rehearsals. Seeing the control and strength in her expressions also guided the final stance I chose.”


IN MEMORIAM

IAN LISTON

August 4, 1948 — October 1, 2016

I

The scene was set with Jyn as the focus in Jedha. Since it’s a desert planet and the figures are in the middle of a scuffle, it’s natural that dust would be swirling in the air. Getting it just right was painstaking. Hayford said, “Overall atmosphere, including the rays of light poking through the overhead canopies, was created with a fog machine. The sand was kicked up using a can of compressed air—the same kind used to clear dust from a cowmputer keyboard—at the characters’ action points. While this all seems simple, it’s not. If you spray from the easiest entry point to the diorama, the sand will go in the opposite direction of the action. So, it took many swishing movements from a very awkward angle, timed with the camera’s shutter, to create a more realistic effect.” If Hayford wanted to get another shot, it meant he had to reset the stage.“The figures were held in place with nails to limit the possibility of movement between shots, “ he said. “And I had to re-sweep the sand of the set and dust the figures after every few images. I live in Florida,and the early summer heat was brutal. Every blast of air can add several ounces of sand to my sweatsoaked self. By the end, I was like human sandpaper. I swear I still feel phantom sand on me. But it was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done—especially because I feel we’re getting another outstanding female character that my daughter AND son can admire.”

an Liston, the British actor who portrayed the heroic Rebel Alliance pilot Wes Janson, has passed away at age 68. Liston had been battling prostate cancer for a 12 years, taking part in a total of seven new DNA-based precision cancer medicine trials which had for a time beaten back the disease. Much of the medication Liston used during the past decade has now become standard treatment. Born in Crosby, on Merseyside in England on August 4th 1948, Ian found a career on the stage beckoning, and over the following years compiled an enviable résumé of film and TV projects. His television career began in 1970 with The Breaking of Bumbo and grew to include such British staples as Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, Coronation Street, The Onedin Line, Secret Army and The Professionals. In 1979 he played Hero in a Doctor Who story entitled “The Armageddon Factor.” A year later he captured two roles in The Empire Strikes Back. Most famously he occupied the gunners seat in Wedge Antilles’ snowspeeder playing heroic Wes Janson. Ironically, in the very same action sequence, he also played one of the AT-AT drivers steering a walker Janson was attacking. On film he appeared in Richard Attenboroughs 1977 starstudded classic A Bridge Too Far alongside fellow Star Wars vets John Morton, John Ratzenberger, Jack McKenzie and Garrick Hagon. In 1985 he played a co-pilot in Taylor Hackford’s White Nights alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines. But his most beloved TV role was that of Ron Brownlow in Midlands-based soap Crossroads between 1981 and 1985. With a deep love for the theater, especially the uniquely British tradition of pantomime, Liston launched the Hiss and Boo Company in 1977. It quickly became one of the leading providers of pantomime and variety shows to venues across the U.K. and eventually traveled to the Middle East and across the globe. With fresh adaptations written each and every year, his shows included such TV, music and entertainment stars as Todd Carty, Peter Duncan, Isla St Clair, Rick Wakeman, Colin Baker, Wayne Sleep, and Jimmy Cricket. The company brought the Mr. Men to the stage for the first time, worked with the RSC to create The Shakespeare Revue and most notably were the original producers of Cluedo as a stage play. Liston himself appeared in well over 3,000 performances of Hiss and Boo’s Music Hall and Variety shows as Mr. Chairman. A lover of cricket, steam railways, and paddle steamers, he was a proud member of the Garrick Club and The Grand Order of Water Rats. Liston is survived by his wife Vivien.

INSIDER 9


TREAT YOUR EARS

R

ogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars live action film with a score to be composed by someone other than John Williams. Michael Giacchino, a highly accomplished composer with many films and television series to his credit, scored the music forchael Giacchino, a highly accomplished composer with many films and television series to his credit, scored the music for the movie. Speaking of which, if you enjoyed Rogue One, we recommend you check some of his other offerings, to include Lost, Alias, Inside Out, Super 8, Doctor Strange, and Star Trek Into Darkness. Fun fact: Rogue One isn’t the first Star Wars title Giacchino’s composed for. He also created music for Disney Parks’ Star Tours: The Adventures Continue when the attraction reopened in 2011.

WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT TO GO TO

LEGO JAKKU?

I

f you’re itching to take another trip to Jakku, pack your bags and get ready! LEGOLAND California Resort is adding characters and vehicles from The Force Awakens to their Star Wars Miniland next spring, just in time for the annual LEGO Star Wars Days event March 4-5. The new Jakku-themed model will call the center of Miniland home and feature six scenes, characters, and vehicles from the first 30 minutes of the 2015 blockbuster film. You will also find one the longest models ever created on display as well: a 16-foot Star Destroyer! If you have the time and are a huge fan of Star Wars and LEGO, you won’t want to miss out on this event!

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10 INSIDER


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WRITE IN TO STAR WARS INSIDER, AND IF WE PUBLISH YOUR LETTER WE WILL SEND YOU TWO PACKS OF TOP TRUMPS STAR WARS CARDS FEATURING THE ORIGINAL AND THE PREQUEL TRILOGIES! THE AMAZING STORY OF KID KRENNIC!

another seamstress. Several months before we left for Europe, the new seamstress had us come in for measuring and said that she would call us later for the final fitting. Time went by, and finally four days before we flew to London, she called us. When we got there, she pulled some haphazard pieces of clothing out of a shopping bag. The costume wasn’t ready, but she said that she could finish it on time. By now, we were getting anxious. Then, the evening before the flight, she called my dad and said it just wasn’t going to happen. When my dad told me, I nearly passed out. Right before I turned to the dark side, the phone rang again. It was Donna, the original seamstress. She said that she would finish the costume no matter what, and make my dream of going to Celebration as Orson Krennic come true! Even though we decided to meet at 8pm, it wasn’t ready until almost midnight—the night before we left! This all made me appreciate going to Celebration a lot more. And when I got called up to the stage during the Insider panel, it was absolutely wizard for me! May the Force be with you, Nicholas Romig (Kid Krennic)

Back in issue #168 we asked for information about the mysterious young Director Krennic, who made a guest appearance at the Star Wars Insider panel held during Celebration Europe back in July. Well, the cuttingedge cosplayer has answered our call! “I would be honored to tell you how my dad and I made my costume,” he reports… My dad and I had help from a professional seamstress in our area named Donna Riggs for the cape and jacket. She made both out of white spandex. The jacket has snaps on the shoulders to attach the cape to the shirt. It also has shoulder pads to make it look more militaristic. The cape has an unfinished seam on the back just like the real thing. Also, on the jacket is Krennic’s military badge marking him as a Director. We got it from a man who specializes in making replica props. It attaches to the jacket with magnets on the back. The boots are actual leather boots that we ordered and the pants are just regular black ones. The belt is a leather strip that has Velcro on the back. The belt buckle is chromium duct tape with different sizes of magnets stacked onto each other to make the center of the buckle. The holster is an actual handgun holster. The blaster was inspired by the small bit of it shown from the teaser trailer, so it isn’t completely accurate. It is just a PVC pipe piece with a smaller piece glued to the top to make the scope. It is all spray-painted and has black duct tape on it to make the different indentations on it. There is a funny story about how we got the jacket and cape from the seamstress. Donna couldn’t make the costume herself because she was too busy with other jobs, so she hired

12 INSIDER

Nicholas Romig models his outfit in front of the actual Krennic costume at Celebration Europe! Photo: Christopher Romig

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JYN ERSO FELICITY JONES IS JYN ERSO, A REBEL WITH A PERSONAL STAKE IN A SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE MISSION.

W

hen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was announced on March 12, 2015, Felicity Jones was the only actor attached to the movie. Her name brought the film immediate attention well beyond Star Wars fan circles, as she had received a special jury prize at the 2011 Sundance Festival for her role in the romantic drama Like Crazy, and Best Actress nominations at the Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes for her portrayal of Jane Hawking in the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything (2014). In her role as Jyn Erso, she follows in the footsteps of acclaimed, established actors, such as Alec Guinness and Natalie Portman, appearing in Star Wars films alongside breakout stars. When she was 12 years old, Jones starred in the British family film The Treasure Seekers (1996) with Keira Knightley (who went on to play Sabé in The Phantom Menace). Since graduating from Wadham College, Oxford in 2006, she has worked on both stage and screen, as well as on BBC radio, voicing Emma Carter in the world’s longest-running radio serial, The Archers. After film roles in Northhanger Abbey (2007), Brideshead Revisited (2008), Chéri (2009), and The Tempest (2010), it was her role as Anna in Like Crazy (2011) that highlighted her intense ability to get inside a character’s head. An article for the New York Times detailed how Jones “spent hours driving from pharmacy to pharmacy” to find the precise shade of blue nail polish she had envisioned for her character. She even contributed pieces from her own wardrobe to get the character’s look just right.


Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) takes the fight to Imperial forces.

Jones won more widespread recognition in 2014 with roles in both The Amazing Spiderman 2 and The Theory of Everything. While it was her co-star in the latter film, Eddie Redmayne, who won the Academy Award for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Jones’ fierce yet understated performance as his wife Jane (author of the memoir on which the film was based), provided the crucial counterpoint to his emotional spiral as he struggled with motor neurone disease. In 2016, Jones has already been seen in Inferno, the latest installment of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon franchise, in which she saves the world as Dr. Sienna Brooks alongside Tom Hanks. Shortly after Rogue One, she will feature in two very different films: emotional family fantasy A Monster Calls with Star Wars veteran Liam Neeson; and heist movie Collide, alongside Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley. At Wadham College, Jones studied English and wrote her degree thesis on Virginia Woolf. On Woolf, she told The Hollywood Reporter, “I liked that she gets in the minds of people, and that contradiction between what people are

16 INSIDER

thinking and how they’re behaving, which is obviously what we’re exploring all the time as an actor.” In the same interview, she revealed that she has created a Jyn Erso scrapbook for Rogue One, and that her main inspiration came from watching hours of music videos, particularly those by Florence and the Machine. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards revealed what appealed to him about Jones’ acting. “You can just hang the camera on Felicity and not say a word, and you can feel her having a million different thoughts. You get interested

in what she’s thinking and what’s going on. She can be very observant within a scene. It doesn’t always have to be about her directly, but we’re experiencing it through her. She just has that knack for pulling you in.” In summer 2016, at Celebration Europe, Jones gave fans a glimpse into Jyn Erso’s motivation, saying, “I feel there’s one major difference between Jyn and other Star Wars heroes [such as] Rey and Luke. She’s not a character asking, ‘Who am I and where did I come from?’ Rather, Jyn knows where she came from, and that propels the story and her journey.”a

“You can just hang the camera on felicity and feel her having a million different thoughts.”


Under arrest. Jyn Erso captured by the Empire.


COMBAT ASSAULT TANK

Imperial stormtroopers on patrol on Jedha. Vincent Jenkins, Concept Artist.


ROGUE ONE CONCEPT ART


MCQUARRIE’S

DEATH STAR 20 INSIDER


The rebel Y-wings commence attack on the Death Star.

RALPH MCQUARRIE’S ART DEPICTING THE DEATH STAR IS SOME OF THE MOST EVOCATIVE IN HIS OEUVRE. A LAVISH NEW BOOK, STAR WARS ART: RALPH MCQUARRIE OFFERS THE MOST COMPLETE LOOK AT HIS INCREDIBLE, PEERLESS LEGACY. INSIDER 21


In addition to concept art, McQuarrie also designed toy packaging for Galoob, including this preliminary illustration for the Death Star Action Fleet set.

This piece, showing Han and Luke escorting their “prisoner� to the detention block, subtly suggests the spherical shape of the Imperial battle station.


An interior view from an Imperial cockpit as a TIE pilot hones in on the rebel Y-wings.

One of the many cavernous docking bays of the Death Star.

The cold corridors of the Death Star, as populated by lightsaber-wielding Imperial stormtroopers described in earlier drafts of The Star Wars screenplay.


SAW GERRERA ACADEMY-AWARD WINNING ACTOR FOREST WHITAKER PORTRAYS AN INSURGENT WHO PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN THE REBELS’ MISSION...


H

ow many actors can say they have won the Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe Award, National Board of Review Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award? Not many, and Forest Whitaker won them all for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006). Known for immersing himself in his characters, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Whitaker assumes the role of Saw Gerrera, a character created by George Lucas and first introduced in the animated television series The Clone Wars. An anti-Separatist freedom fighter on his home planet Onderon, Gerrera was trained in insurgency tactics by Anakin Skywalker and his Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano. By the time of Rogue One, Anakin has become Darth Vader—and Gerrera is also partmachine as he continues to oppose oppression and tyranny in the galaxy. Forest Whitaker’s breakout role was as the football player Charles Jefferson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). A string of guest appearances on television shows followed, including Cagney & Lacey (1983) and Hill Street Blues(1984). He also appeared in several television movies, from The Grand Baby (1985) to Last Light (1993), and the mini-series North & South (1985) and its sequel. A string of hit films from 1986 to 1988 helped make Whitaker a household name including Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money (1986, with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise), Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987 with Robin Williams), and Clint Eastwood’s Bird (1988). Whitaker’s work in The Color of Money and Bird cemented his reputation for throwing himself completely into characters. Whitaker learned pool for his role as hustler Amos in The Color of Money and took alto saxophone lessons in preparation for playing Charlie “Bird” Parker. He continued to work steadily in film throughout the 1990s, in roles as varied as Diary of a Hitman (1991), The Crying Game (1992), Ready to Wear (1994), and Smoke (1995). For his role in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), as a mob hitman following the bushido code, Whitaker steeped himself in Eastern philosophy and took up meditation. Also in the 1990s, Whitaker decided to take a turn at producing and directing. He produced and co-starred in A Rage in Harlem (1991) and made his directorial debut for the HBO movie Strapped (1993). The first feature film he directed, Waiting to Exhale (1995), was based on the Terry McMillan novel of the same name, and he also directed Whitney Houston’s music video for the movie’s theme song, “Exhale.” In 1998 he directed Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr. in Hope Floats (1998).

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Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera.

whitaker noted that he watched the clone wars episode with saw gerrera to prepare for the role.

In addition to his award-winning performance in The Last King of Scotland, (2006), in recent years Whitaker has continued his success in numerous mediums. He narrated the Twilight Zone (2002) television series for UPN, co-starred with Jodie Foster in Panic Room (2005), and directed Katie Holmes in First Daughter (2004). He was a regular on the acclaimed FX television series The Shield (2002-2008), and received a 2006 Primetime Emmy nomination for a recurring role playing stroke-victim Curtis Ames on the hit show ER. (1994-2009). He produced Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler which won the 2014 AFI Award for Movie of

the Year, and won numerous acting awards for portraying Cecil Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013). In addition to Rogue One, this year Whitaker portrays Colonel Weber in Arrival, a science-fiction film that also stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. At Celebration Europe’s Rogue One panel, Whitaker noted that he watched The Clone Wars episode with Saw Gerrera to prepare for the role. This comes as no surprise, considering the lengths he has gone in the past to prepare for previous roles, which is to say by “any means necessary,” a sentiment he certainly shares with Gerrera. a


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ALAN TUDYK IS THE IMPERIAL-DROID-TURNEDREBEL-ALLY, K-2SO!

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any fans of science fiction on the big and small screens remember being introduced to American actor Alan Tudyk as Hoban “Wash” Washburne in Joss Whedon’s short-lived Fox television series Firefly (2002-03), and its companion film Serenityy (2005). Other audiences met him in television comedies, where he starred as Dr. Noah Werner in Suburgatory (2011-14) on ABC and as broadcaster Reagan Biscayne in Newsreaders (2014-15) on Comedy Central’s Adult Swim. Younger Star Warss fans will be delighted to learn that he also provides voices for animated Disney films, including King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph h (2012), the Duke of Weselton

in Frozen (2013), Alastair Krei in Big Hero 6 (2014), and Hei Hei in Moana a (2016). Less familiar to most people, however, is just how extensive and varied Tudyk’s resumé really is, beyond his best-known roles. Born and raised in Texas, Tudyk attended college there before studying drama at the famous Juilliard School in New York City. Over the past two decades he has appeared in dozens of films, from the biopic of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, 42 (2013), to the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma a (2007); and from the comedy Knocked Up p (2007) to the action-packed Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). He has lent his voice to a number of animated television shows including Oliver Queen/ Green Arrow in Young Justice e (2010-2013), Ludo/ King Butterfly in Star vs. The Forces of Evill (2015-), as well as numerous guest appearances in other well-known series. In videogames, he has supplied his talents to the likes of Halo 3 (2009) and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014), and reprised the role of Green Arrow for both Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) and Infinite Crisis (2015). For all his subsequent success, Tudyk has never forgotten the fans who fueled his rise to stardom

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as Wash. Along with Firefly and Serenity co-star Nathan Fillion, Tudyk created, executive produced, wrote, and directed all 13 episodes of the web series, Con Man, which launched online in September 2016. The series was loosely based on Tudyk’s experiences at fan conventions in the years since Firefly. To cement his and Fillion’s relationship with their fans, the pair crowdfunded the project on Indiegogo, raising more than seven times their targeted amount within a month, breaking crowfunding records in the process. In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Tudyk returns to space adventure in front of the camera. In a motion-capture role, he plays K-2SO, an Imperial security droid who has been reprogrammed by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to serve the Rebel Alliance. The droid is over seven feet tall, requiring Tudyk to wear special stilts throughout filming built by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). The devices did not limit his performance, however —special effects supervisor Neal Scanlan called the character, “the first droid with athletic prowess.” Perhaps even more distinctive than K-2SO’s physicality, however, is his personality. According to Tudyk, the droid “has no filter” and “can say insulting things very casually if he thinks they’re true.” Describing a brief clip from the film shown at Celebration Europe, Tudyk told StarWars.com, “Felicity Jones’ character hands me a bag… and I stand there holding the bag for just a moment, and I just drop it, because I’m not into holding her bag.” It’s safe to say Star Wars fans have never seen or heard a droid quite like this one before! a


Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).


ROGUE ONE

A rare moment of contemplation for the team before they embark on their mission. Jon McCoy, Storyboard Artist.


ROGUE ONE CONCEPT ART


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BODHI ROOK RIZ AHMED DONS A FLIGHT SUIT TO PLAY AN IMPERIAL DEFECTOR FIGHTING FOR THE REBELLION!


Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a crucial member of Rogue One.

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ritish actor Riz Ahmed is a relatively new face in Hollywood, but his rise has been meteoric. After appearing alongside Jake Gyllenhaal as a news stringer in Nightcrawler (2014), he played a social media CEO caught up in the clandestine world of Matt Damon’s eponymous former government agent in Jason Bourne (2016). His critically acclaimed breakthrough, however, was on TV, as the star of HBO’s eight-part miniseries The Night Of (2016), a New York City crime drama about a PakistaniAmerican college student accused of murder. Born in 1982 in London, Ahmed graduated from Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and studied acting at the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, which counts Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Jason Isaacs, and Carrie Fisher among its alumni. His breakout role came in the docudrama The Road to Guantanamo (2006), which chronicles the detention of three British citizens at Guantanamo Bay, and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Sundance Film Festival. In the years immediately following, his film work went on to attract further critical nods, with three nominations for Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards, as well as plaudits for his roles on stage and TV. In addition to acting, Ahmed is an accomplished rapper, having released the albums MICroscope (2012) and Englistan (2016) under the name Riz MC. With the American rapper Heems, Ahmed also performs as the Swet Shop Boys, whose album Cashmere was released in October this year. Like many of the projects he’s been involved with, Ahmed’s musical subject matter frequently includes themes pertaining to racism and social injustice. In Rogue One, Ahmed plays Bodhi Rook, an Imperial pilot who defects and joins the Rebellion. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ahmed

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Bodhi Rook in action on Scarif.

“in our world, bodhi would be a truck driver. a long-distance truck driver.”

was keen to point out that Rook differs from some other Star Wars pilots. “Bodhi is a cargo pilot,” he said. “In our world, Bodhi would be a truck driver. A long-distance truck driver.” Addressing the Imperial logo Rook continues to wear on his flight gear, he remarked that, “It’s to remind you of where [he came] from, remind you where [his] debts are... it reminds you of what [he’s] done.” This sets the tone for the choices Rook must make in the film, and like all the characters on Rogue One’s rebel team, he has “a complex past” and “a lot of baggage and history.” Appearing on stage with the rest of the cast at Celebration Europe in July, Ahmed wasn’t afraid to reveal his humorous side. When asked why he was excited to be part of a Star Wars film, he explained: “They attract the best talent across the board… And also Alan,” earning a laugh and a bow from co-star Alan Tudyk. Speaking of Rook’s past, Ahmed noted that, “Bodhi is a pilot and he works for the Empire to earn a living. You know, people work at big organizations and they don’t agree with everything they do.” When confronted with the true colors of the Empire at Jedha, “that kind of makes him question his career counselor.” Bodhi may not be able to find as much humor in his circumstances as Ahmed does, however. In Entertainment Weekly, Kathleen Kennedy described Rook as “a little tense, a little volatile.” Fans will learn soon how Rook handles the pressure when he’s striking back against the Empire!

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CHIRRUT ÃŽMWE INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR DONNIE YEN AS THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR FROM JEDHA.


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or Donnie Yen, Star Wars is a family affair. With a little help from Disney, who provided the fabric, and the Bullet Films costume design team in Hong Kong, Yen’s son James dressed up as his character, the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe, for Halloween. Not to be outdone, Yen’s daughter Jasmine cosplayed as a stormtrooper, with Yen proudly sharing a picture on Instagram. Chirrut may not have Force abilities in the movie, but no doubt the Force is with Yen and his family. Born in Guangzhou, China, Yen moved to Hong Kong as a child and then to Boston when he was 11. His mother is a grandmaster in Fu Style Wudang Quan and Tai Chi, and Yen also studied many other forms of martial arts, including Karate, boxing, and Taekwondo. In the 2008 international box office smash Ip Man, Yen starred as the Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man, famed as the instructor of the legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. The movie’s success and Yen’s performance have been credited for the rise in popularity of Wing Chun in the years since its release. Yen is not just a martial artist however. He is also a pianist and breakdancer. Yen first broke into the film industry in 1984 when he earned the leading role in Drunken Tai Chi. Following Tiger Cage (1988), he played Commander Lan in Once Upon a Time in China II (1992), starring another martial arts legend, Jet Li. Yen and Li appeared together again in the film Hero, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2003 Academy Awards. After playing Chen Zhen in the television series Fist of Fury (1995), Yen reprised the role in Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010). For those not familiar with Yen’s foreign roles, you may recognize him from the U.S. releases of Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Blade II (2002), where he had brief cameo roles. In a more substantial role, Yen played the villain Wu Chan in Shanghai Knights (2003), opposite Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. And when he’s not acting in front of the camera, Yen is often invited by Hollywood to choreograph action sequences, like he did for the espionage thriller Stormbreaker (2006). He’s even been known to lend his martial-art skill to videogames as he choreographed the fight animations for Onimusha 3 (2004). And if that still isn’t enough, Yen founded Bullet Films, where he produced and directed Legend of the Wolf (1997), and then produced Ballistic Kiss (1998). While expanding his global presence, Yen has continued to take leading roles in Hong Kong cinema, including the wuxia epic film Seven Swords and the crime drama film SPL: Kill Zone, both featured at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Yen acted

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“chirrut can’t see, but he can feel with his heart and believes in the force.”

in, produced, and choreographed Flash Point (2007), for which he won the award for Best Action Choreography at the Golden Horse Film Awards and an acting award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Not limiting himself to action roles, Yen appeared in the romantic comedy series All’s Well, Ends Well in 2011 and 2012. Yen has also used his success to support charities. In 2015, he brought donations and gifts to refugee camps in Thailand. He is also an ambassador for the international charity Free the Children. After winning a defamation lawsuit, he founded Yen’s Honour Protection Fund, to empower celebrities to defend their

reputations from libelous falsehoods using available legal remedies. For Rogue One, Yen brings to the table not only the diversity of his heritage and acting background, but also his commitment to playing the first major Star Wars film character with a physical disability. Chirrut Îmwe is a staff-wielding spiritual warrior who is also blind. At the Rogue One panel at Celebration Europe, Yen shared his take on his character: “Chirrut can’t see, but he can feel with his heart and believes in the Force.” As the trailers demonstrate, Chirrut’s blindness is no impediment to his heroism against the Empire.


Chirrut ĂŽmwe faces a stormtrooper squad on Jedha.

Chirrut and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) after a fight.

Chirrut ĂŽmwe (Donnie Yen) meets Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones).


BAZE MALBUS THE ACCLAIMED ACTOR, WRITER AND DIRECTOR JIANG WEN TAKES AIM AS A GUN-TOTING WARRIOR WITH A MISSION!


Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen): key players in the fight against the Empire!

baze malbus is a pragmatist who—like han solo— prefers a good blaster at his side.

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aze Malbus made an unforgettable first impression in the trailer for Rogue One: standing in front of a downed X-wing, heavily armed and clad in red armor while blasting stormtroopers. He may be the muscle in the fight against the Empire, but don’t let that fool you. The renowned Chinese actor who plays him, Jiang Wen, is also an internationally respected screenwriter and director, with a career reaching back to the early 1980s. Devils on the Doorstep, a black comedy he co-wrote and directed, won second place in the 2000 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix, and as a result of that movie, TIME Asia has described him as a real-life rebel. A graduate of the Central Academy of Drama, China’s premier acting school, Jiang’s breakout role in his home country came in the award-winning Hibiscus Town (1986), a chronicle of one woman’s life

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during China’s Cultural Revolution. Though he has mostly worked on the big screen, his rise to fame really took off with a role in the television show A Native of Beijing in New York in the early 1990s. Around the same time he wrote and directed his first movie, In The Heat Of The Sun (1994), praised by Variety for its well-observed characters. Shot in black and white, Devils on the Doorstep (2000) was only the second movie Jiang directed, and initially ran to three hours. Conventional wisdom suggested it could not succeed: not only because of its length and styling, but also because it was set against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War, causing discomfort for both the Chinese Film Board and his Japanese producers, who tried to curb Jiang’s vision. However, the finished film was met with acclaim, and Jiang’s uncompromising vision in the face of

doubters might remind western moviegoers of some of America’s bestknown cinematic rebels, such as George Lucas and James Cameron. As the 21st century got underway, Jiang starred in a string of Chinese movies before a return to writing and directing with the romantic fantasy The Sun Also Rises (2007). In 2009 he was one of 11 directors to contribute to the anthology movie New York, I Love You, along with Natalie Portman and Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe). For his segment of the film, Jiang directed Hayden Christensen. He then went on to write, direct, and act in Let the Bullets Fly (2010), an action comedy that became China’s highest grossing domestic


Baze in the heat of battle on the war-torn streets of Jedha.

film ever, holding the record for two years. At London’s Celebration Europe in summer 2016, fans got their first hints about the character of Baze Malbus and his camaraderie with Chirrut Îmwe—whom he is defending in that memorable trailer clip. While Îmwe, played by legendary Hong Kong martial arts actor Donnie Yen, is deeply spiritual and a believer in the Force, Malbus is a pragmatist who—like Han Solo—prefers a good blaster at his side, backed up with a healthy dose of bravado. Asked for a description of his character, Jiang answered, “Baze has a gun. He has a huge gun.” When the Empire comes calling on the planet Jedha, you can be sure he’s going to use it! a

A former Guardian of the Whills, Baze has rejected his faith.


U-WING

The Rebel Alliance UT-60D, also known as the U-wing, serves as a transport/gunship. Ryan Church, Concept Artist.


ROGUE ONE CONCEPT ART


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THE MILLENNIUM FALCON’’S APPROACH TO THE DEATH STAR IS ONE OF THE STAR WARS SAGA’S MOST DISTINCTIVE SCENES. AMY RATCLIFFE LOOKS AT WHAT WE KNOW OF THE IMPERIAL BATTLE STATION, SO FAR...

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he Death Star. The mighty battle station constructed by the Empire at Emperor Palpatine’s behest was the ultimate weapon. The concept of a weapon the size of a moon capable of wiping out entire planets was so appealing, the Empire returned to the Death Star playbook for a second try after the first attempt met an explosive end. Hey, wouldn’t you? Though the weapon was meant to instill fear across the galaxy—and it accomplished the objective by targeting and blowing up Alderaan—the Death Star actually brought destruction to the Empire. When the Rebel Alliance exploited a weakness and turned the weapon into an expensive fireworks show, it marked a turning point in the Galactic Civil War. The Empire lost millions of soldiers and years of work and resources in a single blow. Given the monstrous size of the Death Star, you can imagine the number of materials and people involved in its construction. Stories published in recent years have filled in the gaps since the space station was first mentioned in the opening crawl of A New Hope: “During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.” Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delves into how those spies get their hands on the plans, while countless comics and books have given glimpses of what went into building such a devastating creation. Here is a small glimpse at the history of the “ultimate power in the universe.”

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The Death Star in orbit over the moon of Jedha.

AN IDEA IS BORN

Palpatine felt rather confident about the outcome.

Palpatine was evil. His lust for ultimate power thrusts the galaxy into two different wars and had a disastrous effect. However, Palpatine was a skilled planner. He was patient beyond belief; he excelled at playing the long game. The first look at his plans for the Death Star came all the way back in Attack of the Clones, 22 years before the Battle of Yavin. See? Long game. In the film, Poggle the Lesser handed over the Death Star design to Count Dooku on Geonosis for him to deliver the plans to his master. The Geonosians were responsible for crafting the initial blueprint. Poggle told Dooku, “The Jedi must not find our designs for the ultimate weapon. If they find out what we are planning to build, we’re doomed.” The top secret project began then, kept hidden from even the Jedi. The Clone Wars weren’t even over, but

WHO’S THE BOSS?

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Emperor Palpatine, the master planner.

Not to keep referencing the immense size of the Death Star, but given its mass, the fact that the project was kept under wraps from all but the necessary parties is remarkable. The sheer amount of raw material that had to be brought to the table was one consideration. The Empire used their people where they could, but it wasn’t always possible. They had a lot of mouths to keep quiet. As the Emperor had a full docket leading a double life as Palpatine and Darth Sidious and also manipulating the rest of the known universe, he had to appoint a right hand man to oversee the project. As we learn in the novel Tarkin, by James Luceno the Emperor initially thought


The planet-shattering superlaser is fitted onto the Death Star.

The rebels plan their action.

Dodd Rancit was the right person for the job. He served under Republic Intelligence during the Clone Wars and worked with Captain Wilhuff Tarkin at the time. When the war ended, Rancit moved to the Galactic Empire and his first assignment was on Sentinel Base, an outpost supporting construction of the Death Star. He didn’t last. He was removed from the project and appointed as the head of the freshly created Navel Intelligence Agency. The responsibility for overseeing the Death Star shifted over to Moff Tarkin. Ever the overachiever, Tarkin had suggested the symbol of power to Palpatine during the Clone Wars. Tarkin faced challenges in his post at Sentinel Base—sabotage, shipment delays, and supply shortages all led to missed deadlines—but he proved his merit. He navigated the problems and kept creation of the battle station more or less on track for three years. Palpatine rewarded Tarkin, promoting him to Grand Moff.

Then there was Orson Krennic, the brutal and ambitious director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Empire. His obsession with the completion of the Death Star drove him to enlist his old friend, the scientist Galen Erso, whose brilliant mind was an important cog in the battle station’s constuction.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Where do you stage the construction site of the most giantic weapon in the galaxy? Darth Sidious chose the space above Geonosis because access to the planet was restricted to all but a few. It ensured no passersby would wander in and discover the project. The project unfolded in secrecy for years above the planet. The Empire used

beings much like they used supplies. The novel Star Wars: Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig, revealed Wookiee slave laborers were among the aliens forced to operate equipment utilized in the enterprise. While the space station came together in Geonosis’ orbit, the Empire had to staff off-world manufacturing facilities to create the multitude of parts and pieces needed to complete the weapon. They used a system of stations and depots to make the supply line difficult to trace. To maintain secrecy from the prying eyes of the Senate and such tireless rebels as Saw Gerrera, the Death Star was moved from Geonosis to Scarif in the years before A New Hope. When the crew of the Ghost travels to Geonosis in the episode “the Honorable Ones” from Star Wars Rebels Season Two, they find remnants of construction modules. The Imperials and the Death Star were gone, and furthermore, no life remained on Geonosis. The Darth

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Vader comic, issue #4 provided illumination on that front: the Empire sterilized the entire planet and killed the Geonosians except for a single queen. The move ensured the Geonosians wouldn’t discuss the behemoth being built in their space.

MATERIAL NEEDS Scrolling through a datapad to look at the supply list for the Death Star would probably take a while. The incredible volume of even basic materials such as metals required exploiting planets around the galaxy. The Empire swooped into places such as Lothal to ravage natural resources. The galaxy paid a heavy price for the Death Star. As tricky as it might have been to gather everyday materials, it was even more difficult to find the key component for powering the Death Star’s superlaser: kyber crystals. The Force-attuned crystals are best known for powering lightsabers, but they’ve played a role in making superweapons for time immemorial. Legends say ancient Sith used the large kyber crystals for that purpose. The unfinished Clone Wars arc “Crystal Crisis on Utapau” made mention of this, and one was shown in the Star Wars Rebels Season Two finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice.” The Sith temple in the episode had an intact version of one of those superweapons. Palpatine and the Empire scoured the galaxy for kyber crystals, tapping into every promising origin point. “Crystal Crisis” illustrated Palpatine’s desperation to get the materials. They did find an easy to obtain store on Ilum. The Jedi Order traveled to the planet for a ritual wherein younglings searched for the crystals to make their lightsabers. But only a year after the Empire started, they’d drained the resources of Ilum. In the young adult novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, it is revealed that the Empire’s invasion was so complete the destruction was visible from space. The rebels hampered the Empire’s efforts to attain kyber crystals when they could. They didn’t know precisely what the Empire intended for the crystals, but they suspected it involved weaponry. The Ghost team stopped an Imperial convoy moving crystals in the Star Wars Rebels Season One episode “Breaking Ranks.”

A FAILED EXPERIMENT All the hard work and careful engineering was successful; the weapon functioned as it was intended. Tarkin executed a successful test upon Alderaan. However, one small piece of the station was

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Darth Vader, the Emperor’s lethal enforcer.

overlooked. With the technical readout of the battle station in their hands at the base on Yavin 4, the rebels examined the plans thoroughly and spotted a flaw in the Death Star’s design: the thermal exhaust port. What’s surprising is that something this detrimental wasn’t addressed. All we know is that the Emperor’s disappointment in the error was palpable in the Star Wars and Darth Vader comics, which were set after the events of A New Hope—Palpatine

all but took his wrath and laid it bare in Vader’s direction. The rebels’ hard-won knowledge about the thermal exhaust port almost wasn’t enough to win the day. The rebel attack on the Death Star over Yavin 4 saw many casualties, and the small target made the mission extremely difficult to complete. Thankfully Luke Skywalker, aided by the Force, was able to find his target as the Empire prepared the final coundown to obliterate the Rebel Alliance, once and for all.


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GALEN ERSO MADS MIKKELSEN PLAYS THE ROLE OF A BRILLIANT SCIENTIST AND UNWILLING PARTICIPANT IN THE CREATION OF THE DEATH STAR.

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At home Mikkelsen is something else: a star, an axiom, a face of the resurgent Danish cinema

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fter being named Best Actor at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his role in Danish film The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen was profiled in the New York Times. “In the Hollywood blockbuster universe,” it read, “Mikkelsen has become a reliable character actor with an intriguing mug. At home he is something else: a star, an axiom, a face of the resurgent Danish cinema.” Mikkelson studied ballet at the Balettakademien in Gothenberg, Sweden, and spent 10 years as a professional dancer before attending Denmark’s Århus Theatre School in 1996. His movie debut came in the same year, when he played a drug dealer in the Danish film Pusher. Over the next decade, Mikkelson earned recognition in Europe for roles in diverse Danish movies such as Bleeder (1999), Flickering Lights (2000), and Shake It (2001). Awards and nominations followed for his work in Open Hearts (2002), and The Green Butchers (2003), with his reprisal of the drug dealer

role in Pusher II (2004) winning several Best Actor awards. Mikkelsen combined these projects with a long-running TV role as a police officer in the Danish series Unit 1 (2000–2004). When this concluded, he joined Jerry Bruckheimer’s big-screen re-imagining of King Arthur, playing Tristan alongside Star Wars alumni Joel Edgerton as Gawain. In 2006, he played Le Chiffre in Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond, Casino Royale, and the lead in After The Wedding, which earned him the award for Best Actor at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Other notable roles followed, including Igor Stravinsky in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009), Rochefort in The Three Musketeers (2011), and Johann Friedrich Struensee in A Royal Affair (2012). For all this, it is Mikkelsen’s magnetic personality as serial killer Hannibal Lecter that has most captured imaginations in America and made him a bona fide Hollywood star. Describing the eponymous figure at the bloody heart of Hannibal

(2013-2015), the actor told U.K magazine ShortList: “For me, he’s the fallen angel: Satan on Earth, a man who sees beauty where the rest of us see horror. Or, at least, that’s what I based him on.” For an actor whose range spans from heroic knight to evil incarnate, it is impossible to make any assumptions based on Mikkelsen’s casting to play Galen Erso, the scientific genius caught up in the Empire’s Death Star project. The actor gave fans at Celebration Europe a little hint, saying that he “invented something so beautiful, so fantastic, that it might change the universe.” Beyond that, his character remains one of the mysteries of Rogue One. Mikkelsen ends 2016 with roles in two of the year’s biggest movies, with Marvel’s Doctor Strange, in which he plays the mystic villain Kaecilius, gracing theaters shortly before Rogue One. Speaking to Esquire, he maintained that there was no point focusing on the expectations that come with such major franchises, saying: “That’s too much pressure. You just have to think, Oh, this is cool. I like it. Let’s go for it!” a


BEGINNINGS MUCH-LOVED STAR WARS AUTHOR JAMES LUCENO RETURNS TO THE SAGA WITH STAR WARS: CATALYST. INTERVIEW BY MEGAN CROUSE.

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alen Erso is working on a project he thinks will be used in peacetime, but we know that he’s toiling on the terrible Death Star. Did you do any particular research into historical examples of people who worked on large-scale weapons projects in the real world in order to get inside his head? I did a lot of reading about the Manhattan Project, which seemed the obvious equivalent. Many of the key scientists and researchers knew full well that they were working on a nuclear fission weapon —an atomic bomb—but others working at heavy water or particle collider installations were unaware of what their research was ultimately contributing to. The project was widely dispersed and information was provided on a need-toknow basis. I found some interesting stories there, as well as in Germany’s attempts to create a bomb and perfect the rocket. But in fact I was more interested in the nature of manipulation and self-delusion, which steered me to Antonio Salieri and Mozart, Iago and Othello, and to some extent the Watchmen’s Dr. Jon Osterman— Doctor Manhattan—especially the way he is depicted in the film adaptation. We also see a bit of Jyn Erso, although she’s just a baby when she first meets Krennic. Did you have any particular goals in writing the beginnings of her story? Jyn is an infant when Orson Krennic first meets her, but she is almost five years old by the time Catalyst ends, and her earliest memories provide an impetus for what’s to come in Rogue One. Her experiences with her parents— some of them near fatal—play an important role in who she is as an adult, and inform many of her decisions and actions.

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Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen).


“orson krennic is both his harshest critic and most steadfast admirer.”

Galen’s wife Lyra Erso will also make her debut appearance in the novel. What does she bring to Catalyst? Galen’s love of scientific research is second only to his love for his family, and Lyra is not only the one who keeps him grounded, but acts as a kind of sounding board for his theories. She is also a staunch supporter of Galen’s refusal to take part in military research. An explorer of remote worlds, with ample survival skills, her influence on Jyn cannot be overstated. Most of all, Lyra’s relationship with Orson Krennic is almost as important as Galen’s relationship with the Imperial Director of Special Weapons, and she plays pivotal roles in both the novel and the film. What was it like to bring Ben Mendelsohn into the story as Orson Krennic? As I did when writing Tarkin and researching the various roles Peter Cushing played through his long film career, I binge-watched a host of Ben Mendelsohn movies. He is featured in way more films than I initially realized, and I had a great deal of fun screening everything from The Big Steal to The Dark Knight Rises and trying to imagine Ben starring as the young Orson Krennic in Catalyst. You’ve often gotten inside the heads of villains in your books. Did you aim to make Krennic sympathetic, or feared, or a bit of both? Krennic is cut from a different cloth

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than most Star Wars villains. He isn’t a Sith Lord like Palpatine or Plagueis, an enforcer like Maul, or a crippled, fallen Force-wielder like Vader. He lacks the diabolical imperturbability of Tarkin and the penetrating perception that characterizes Thrawn. He is instead a masterful wheeler-dealer, capable of changing strategies on the fly to realize his goals. His innate volatility—even when up against people capable of crushing or demoting him on a whim—gives him a brazenness that hasn’t been seen before. Like many in the early days of the Empire, he is eager to elevate himself and gain entry to the Emperor’s inner circle, but he actually derives more satisfaction from outwitting adversaries than garnering praise. He is both his harshest critic and most steadfast admirer. Although Catalyst sets up a Rebellionera story, it’s set during Chancellor Palpatine’s senate term during the Clone Wars. Did you have to make any particular adjustments in order to show the difference between the two eras? The novel begins shortly after the start of the Clone Wars, but ends in the third year of the Empire. As with Tarkin, the time span allowed me to delve more deeply into that important period of transition, during which the Emperor is slowly rolling out his plan to dominate the entire galaxy. Fear of the military is on the rise, and of course the Death Star is under construction.


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ORSON KRENNIC ACCLAIMED ACTOR BEN MENDELSOHN PLAYS THE HEARTLESS DIRECTOR TASKED WITH COMPLETING THE DEATH STAR.


Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn)

“I like the idea that ben’s character was much more working class.”

T

o understand Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn’s commitment to getting into character, you need look no further than his appearance at this summer’s Rogue One panel at Celebration Europe in London. Unlike his co-stars, who walked out from backstage wearing their own clothes, Mendelsohn entered the venue by marching through the audience in his full Director Krennic costume, flanked by a pair of menacing death troopers! In true Star Wars spirit, the Director wears not only an Imperial uniform but also a full-length cape. Unlike Darth Vader’s deathly black, however, Krennic’s cape is white, suggesting a different type of villain. “I like the idea that Ben’s character was much more working-class,” director Gareth Edwards told USA Today, adding that Krennic’s success comes from “sheer force of personality and ideas.” This flair for making an impression seems to describe the actor just as much as the character. Though not widely known in the United

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States until recently, Mendelsohn’s extensive body of work reflects the commitment and dedication with which he has honed his craft. Working in Australian television and film in the 1980s, he quickly drew attention for his role in The Year My Voice Broke (1987), earning an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor. Over the following decade he took starring roles in a series of Australian films, including Cosi (1996) and Idiot Box (1996), and earned further award nominations for The Big Steal (1990), The Efficiency Expert (1992), and Metal Skin (1994). He appeared in the American survival thriller Vertical Limit (2000), before returning to Australia to take the lead in Mullet (2001). His movie career progressed in tandem with his TV work, which included guest stints on Farscape (1999-2003) and Girls (2012-) in the U.S., as well as acclaimed roles in Love My Way (2006-2007) and Tangle (2009) in Australia. Mendelsohn’s breakout role for U.S. audiences happened in the Netflix original series Bloodline (2015-), a Florida Keys


Krennic strides through the Scarif base.


“krennic is smarte er, st i think, than mos rs. of his predecessor ve.” He’s more inventiv

thriller about the demons that shake a family to its core. As Danny Rayburn, the troubled brother among four siblings, Mendelsohn garnered Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Critic’s Choice and Golden Globe Awards, and a win in the same category at the 2016 Primetime Emmys. Described as “a cruel but brilliant man” who has “staked his reputation on the delivery of the functional battle station to the Emperor,” Director Orson Krennic should be the role that makes Mendelsohn a household name. His iconic look has already been a big hit with fans before he even hit the screen (see page 12). One intriguing aspect of his storyline was revealed in the tie-in book Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel: Krennic has a connection to Jyn Erso’s parents that dates all the way back to the Clone Wars, when Galen Erso’s scientific expertise

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ed. Krennic, too, was already highly prize seemingly relies far more on brains than brawn in his service to the Empire. o longer in Out of costume and no to character, Mendelsohn confirmed c fans at Celebration Europe that Director Krennic stands out from previous Imperial Star Wars villains. “He iss smarter, I think, than most of his predece essors,” the actor explained. “He’s more in nventive.” Longtime Industrial L Light & Magic visual effects guru John Knoll, who pitched the standalone story that grew into Rogue One, likewise told Entertainment Weekly, “The bad guy is a lot morre terrifying when he’s really smart, and re eally effective.” With a similarly brillia ant and cunning adversary—Grand Admiral Thrawn— appearing in the latest season s of Star Wars Rebels, there is far more e than just military might bearing down on the rebels in their darkest hours!


AT-ACT

AT-ACTs (All Terrain Armored Cargo Transport) on Scarif. Tom Tenery, Concept Artist.


ROGUE ONE CONCEPT ART


CASSIAN ANDOR DIEGO LUNA PORTRAYS A REBEL CAPTAIN WHO EMBARKS ON A DEADLY MISSION.


C

assian Andor is an intelligence officer and rebel leader who is noted among his troops for diverse skills and abilities. Choosing Diego Luna for the role in Rogue One, therefore, seems to be a perfect match. The Mexicoborn actor is also a producer, director, narrator, film festival organizer, and human rights advocate. Yet, for all his accomplishments, Luna told an enthusiastic audience at this summer’s Celebration Europe that he was excited to work on Star Wars specifically because of the fans and their energy. Born to British costume designer Fiona Alexander and Mexican set designer Alejandro Luna in 1979, Diego began his film career as a child, appearing in Antonieta (1982). Ten years later he joined the cast of Mexican telenovela El Abuelo y Yo (1992-), then moved on to the soap opera El Premio Mayor. In 2001 he joined his El Abuelo y Yo co-star Gael García Bernal in the Alfonso Cuarón-directed road movie Y Tu Mamá

“the heroes have no powers. what they have is conviction.” También, which broke Mexican box office records and earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. This success led to Luna’s first Hollywood film roles, cast alongside Jon Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos (2002), Salma Hayek in the Oscar-winning Frida (2002), and Kevin Costner in Open Range (2003), before starring in the Dirty Dancing re-imagining, Havana Nights (2004). In the following years, Luna continued to work frequently in front of the camera while also developing his film production company, Canana Films. A partnership with García Bernal and producer Pablo Cruz, the company soon began to make its mark in Mexico with a series of socially conscious films. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Luna continued to push boundaries with roles such as Jack Lira, the troubled boyfriend of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, in the critically lauded biopic Milk (2008). In 2010, Katy Perry fans were introduced to Luna as “The One That Got Away” in her video for the song of the same name, while in

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Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) on Jedha.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) with K-2SO.


Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) on the battlefield.

2013, sci-fi aficionados got to know him as Julio, a friend of Matt Damon’s lead character Max, in Elysium. Luna then stepped back behind the camera to direct the biopic César Chávez (2014), about the American labor leader, and to voice one of the two leads alongside Zoë Saldana in the animated film The Book of Life (2014). His most recent movie before Rogue One is The Bad Batch (2016); and in 2017 he will feature in Ferdinand, the animated tale of a bull; and the rebooted Flatliners. In addition to acting, producing, and directing, Luna also helps curate the wide-ranging Ambulante Documentary Film Festival. The event, which takes place in Mexico and California, aims to bring documentary films to new audiences. He also has worked with the human rights organization Washington Office on Latin America to challenge arms trafficking and to honor the journeys made by immigrants. In a recent interview with the Mexican edition of Vanity Fair, Luna described Cassian Andor as someone who is “used to always being in the fight,” something which the magazine compared to the actor’s own fearlessness to “express his views on any social issue” during press conferences. Luna has also drawn comparisons between Rogue One and his own experiences. “The characters are very similar to us,” he says. “These heroes have no powers. What they have is a conviction and desire to change reality. It is a social movement.” a

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THIS EDITION WE MEET SOME YOUNG FANS—AND A BEARDED DRAGON—WHO JUST LOVE STAR WARS ! BEARDED DRAGON

Here is my Bearded Dragon, Jagger, and his collection of various Star Wars items—he even has his own Tauntaun! —Alan Summers, by email

THE DARK LORD OF THE… CRIB?

Here is my grandson Leonardo Rodolfo Marquez Santos dressed as Darth Vader for Halloween! He is just over one year old. His parents wanted to dress him as the greatest Sith Lord! This has made me very happy as I have been a Star Wars fan ever since I was 10 years old. My grandson is the next generation, May the Force be with him... forever! —Leonardo Rodolfo Y Juan Carlos, Mexico City

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THE LEGEND OF JEDI BRADY

I just wanted to take a moment to share a great event we recently participated in for the Make-A-Wish foundation. A 7-year-old boy named Brady who suffers from a rare form of Leukemia had a dream to become a Jedi and defeat Darth Vader and his Legion. With the help of the MAW foundation, the 501st Legion Florida Garrison Everglades Squad, The Rebel Legion Ra Kura Base and the Magic City Jedi, we made his wish come true! Between the various groups, there were more than 50 of us who attended to bring Brady’s dream to life. It was such an amazing experience, and seeing everyone come together to make it all happen was epic to say the least. The camaraderie and teamwork in the Star Wars fan and costuming community is simply fantastic! Here’s how it all played out… In a galaxy far, far away (West Palm Beach) there is a 7-year-old boy named Brady who is battling Leukemia. More than anything in the universe, he wanted to become Jedi Brady. “Rey” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivered a holocron to Brady—it had secret plans and he had to keep it safe. On the day of the event, Brady was escorted in a West Palm Beach Police Department SWAT truck to the Jedi Temple which was hidden deep within

the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. He delivered the holocron and underwent advanced Jedi training. He also used the Force to levitate bricks. Then he was anointed an official Jedi Knight by Master Jedi Brown. Right at that moment, R2-D2 arrived with the ominous news that Darth Vader was invading CityPlace to look for the holocron. Jedi Brady was rushed away in the SWAT truck to an epic battle between good and evil. The battle was long and hard, but Jedi Brady was victorious. Darth Vader was overpowered, the holocron was safely returned to the rebel fighters, the Death Star was destroyed

and the Empire was defeated. The crowd cheered with relief and pride for their West Palm Beach Jedi Knight. In a ceremony following the battle, a police sergeant and the mayor were there to present Jedi Knight Brady with the key to the city. Brady’s mother said, “I don’t have words really. I knew it was going to be amazing but feeling the love and support is really what warmed my heart as a parent.” Wish Granters: Caroline Mantel & Pamela Syx. Referred by Danielle Treu, his mother. Wish granted in honor of Mindy Brown. —Jason Poulin, TI-6276, 501st Legion, Florida Garrison, Everglades Squad

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TERROR

TEST!

TELL US ALL YOU KNOW ABOUT THE EMPIRE’S ULTIMATE WEAPON AND SEE IF IT’S ENOUGH TO WIN YOU A PLACE IN THE EMPIRE! QUIZ COMPILED BY GRAND MOFF TOLLY MAGGS


5 1

On which planet were the Death Star plans delivered to Darth Sidious?

How many individual beams make up the composite blast in the ďŹ rst Death Star?

NAME THESE DEATH STAR OFFICERS! We require the full name and rank for a point!

6

7

9 2

8

10

In which detention cell was Princess Leia held during her captivity on the Death Star?

11

How did Darth Vader describe the Death Star when addressing Admiral Motti?

3

What powers the Death Star superlaser?

12

Who nearly destroyed the Death Star prior to Luke Skywalker’s direct hit on the thermal exhaust port?

4

What kind of steel was used to make the hull of the Death Star?

13

Who stealthily deactivated the tractor beam on the Death Star?

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15

Who is the commander of the first Death Star?

16

What is the name of the main weapon used to defend the Death Star from small fighters?

18

What moon was the Death Star attempting to destroy immediately prior to its own destruction?

19

What is the real name of the droids found on the Death Star that are commonly referred to as “Mouse Droids”?

20

Who was the sole Imperial survivor of the Battle of Yavin?

SCORING 16-20 STRONG. You would make a fine military historian. In fact, would you like to assist in building a second Death Star? 12-15 ABOVE AVERAGE. Another year at the academy and you might just pass muster. 9-11 AVERAGE. Much more study required. If servants of the Empire were all like you, we’d probably be defeated by a bunch of teddy bears.

17

What is the name of the creature that lurked within the trash compactor?

0-8 WEAK. We foresee a career in the Imperial Sanitation Corps.

ANSWERS

What did Luke mistake the Death Star for when he saw it for the first time?

1. Coruscant. 2. 2187 3. Kyber crystals 4. Quadanium steel 5. 8 6. Lieutenant Shann Childsen 7. General Tagge 8. Colonel Wullf Yularen 9. Chief Moradmin Bast 10. General Hurst Romodi 11. As a Technological Terror! 12. Red Leader, Garven Dreis 13. Obi-Wan Kenobi 14. A small moon 15. Grand Moff Tarkin 16. Turbolasers 17. Dianoga 18. Yavin 4 19. MSE-6-Series Repair Droid 20. Darth Vader

14

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a

ON SEPTEMBER 30TH A PLETHORA OF NEW STAR WARS PRODUCTS WERE RELEASED FOCUSING ON ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. COLLECTING EXPERT JAMES BURNS SHARES 10 COLLECTIBLES YOU’LL WANT TO OWN!

DISNEY ELITE SERIES METAL FIGURES Disney Store first introduced their six-inch scale Elite Metal Series Figures at D23 Expo in 2015, and they became an overnight success. Since then we’ve seen figures from the whole saga, as well as new figures from The Force Awakens, and now Rogue One. There are eight new fantastically detailed metal figures available including Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and a Death Trooper. Available: Now Price: $26.95 each

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COLLECTIBLES

CARTAMUNDI ROGUE ONE PLAYING CARDS The new playing cards from Cartamundi feature character names, ships, and scenes from Rogue One. They’re printed on high quality card, and are available with or without an embossed collector’s tin. Available: Now Price: $2.95 Standard Tuck Box (Hot Topic, Games by James and GameStop), $4.99 Collectors Tin (Think Geek, Kohls, Calendar Club and GameStop)

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HOT TOYS SIXTH SCALE DARTH VADER COLLECTIBLE FIGURE Hot Toys brings us its sixth-scale interpretation of the iconic figure as seen in Rogue One. This movie-accurate collectible comes with a brand new body and numerous accessories. Available: Q1 2017 Price: $249.99

HASBRO ACTION FIGURES Action figures in the 3¾” scale have been with us since the early years of the Star Wars saga, and the trend continues with new waves of figures from Rogue One, Star Wars Rebels and more. The Jedha Revolt 4-Pack features Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera, Imperial Hovertank Pilot and Edrio Two Tubes! Available: Spring 2017 Price: $24.99, individual 3¾” figures from $7.99 each

FUNKO WOBBLERS Funko introduce an all-new bobblehead line with an anime and manga-influenced style, replacing the old ‘Wacky Wobblers’. The first character to be brought to life in the Wobbler line is the Scarif Stormtrooper, along with Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor. Hopefully more characters will follow in 2017. Available: Now Price: $9.99 each

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GENTLE GIANT SHORETROOPER MINI BUST The shoretrooper has been replicated as a limited edition 1:6 scale mini bust. Available: Q1 2017 Price: $120

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MATTEL HOT WHEELS DEATH STAR REVOLUTION RACE TRACK Inspired by the Death Star assault at the end of A New Hope, the Hot Wheels Death Star Revolution Race Track comes with two Carships: an X-wing and TIE ďŹ ghter. The intertwining powered track enables you to thrust the Carships individually around the track at amazing speeds. Additional Carships are available separately. Available: Now Price: $49.99

VANDOR TIN TOTE AND PRINTED GLASSWARE Vandor offers a large retro tin tote featuring artwork from Rogue One, perfect for storing all manner of Star Wars collectibles. A two-piece set of 16oz laser-printed glasses feature images of the Imperials and rebels respectively. Available: Now Price: From $12.99 to $29.99

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LEGO REBEL U-WING FIGHTER (#75155) LEGO have done an excellent job at bringing the fighter to life with this 659 piece set. It’s also the only set to feature a Jyn Erso minifigure. Available: Now Price: $79.99

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EXCLUSIVE FICTION

THE

VOICE EMPIRE OF THE

A STAR WARS STORY BY MUR LAFFERTY WITH ART BY JASON CHAN


D

on’t say a word. Stone-faced HoloNet News editor Mandora Catabe didn’t say it out loud, but the message was clear. Calliope Drouth’s eyes flicked from Mandora, seated at her desk, to the man standing behind her, smiling widely, hands clasped behind his back. Mandora’s face was set, grim, her eyes fixed on Calliope’s. That’s an Imperial smile. Calliope had hoped to be called in to hear about the promotion she’d asked for, but that hope died when she saw Mandora’s face. “Calliope, sit down,” Mandora said, indicating the chair opposite her desk. “This is Eridan Wesyse. I wanted to tell you first: I’m retiring, effective immediately, and Mr. Wesyse will be your new editor-in-chief.” Where Mandora was small and shrewd, suspicious of anyone and everyone, Eridan looked as if he would always listen sympathetically, smile kindly, and report whatever fit the kind of story he wanted to tell; Calliope knew the type. She nodded. She’d seen the man around, doing Imperial PR. “Nice to meet you, sir,” she said. “I’ve seen you at some events, haven’t I?” He nodded, smiling wider. “You do have good eyes,” he said. “Mandora said you’d be my star reporter. Yes, I’ve done some work for the Empire, and I will continue to as Mondora’s replacement. You see, the Empire wanted to have a tighter…” he paused, searching for the word, “connection to HNN. We’ll want to keep on all of the loyal staff, though, so you shouldn’t worry about your job.” Calliope couldn’t help glancing at Mandora. “No, I’m the only one leaving. I was already contemplating my retirement,” Mandora said, her eyes indicating no such thing. “The Empire just made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” “How generous,” Calliope said, her mouth going dry. “What plans do you have for HNN, Mr. Wesyse?” “We’re going to start by giving you a promotion!” he said. “We’re promoting you to Senior Reporter and calling you the Voice of the Empire. We were so impressed with your work on the Wookiee threat.” Calliope froze. Her piece on the Wookiee “threat” had been heavily edited by Imperial censors, removing the main point of her story entirely and nearly causing Calliope to quit. “Based on your noteworthy history with HNN,” Wesyse continued, “it’s obvious we want to promote you. It’s quite an honor to be the one person on camera that countless citizens will watch to get their news!” “That is an honor,” Calliope agreed, using the smooth voice she used on sources she knew were lying. “Thank you for the promotion. I’m looking forward to the new direction you will take us in, Editor Wesyse.” She wanted to take Mandora aside and ask her what was going on, why was this happening, but Mandora’s normally animated face was set, which scared Calliope more than anything. “As our newly appointed Voice of the Empire, we’re throwing you at your first story, actually,” Wesyse continued. “You are to cover the Imperial Ball tonight. We got you an invitation, which was no easy task.” He paused here, as if to give her a chance to thank him, but she pulled out a small keyboard and started taking notes, nodding for him to continue. “You are to go and interview the dignitaries, report what people are wearing, mention how good the food is, and so on. Your job is to show the Empire in a way the public doesn’t get to see it. Make it more accessible. By giving them the inside view, the Empire becomes their Empire. Understand?” Before Calliope could protest that investigative journalism was her preferred area of news, Mandora pushed something across the desk at her. “I’m giving you Zox. I won’t need it after I retire. It’s yours now.” She patted the little droid, an

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elderly X-0X unit about the size of her hand. “It’s been very good to me, and I know it will serve you the same way.” The droid was dome-shaped, and its original color was probably red or orange, but it was hard to tell as the paint had worn off with age. It extended three spidery legs and rose from the desk, wobbled, and fell over on its side. It beeped plaintively until Mandora righted it. “It will probably be better on your shoulder, now that I think about it,” she said, smiling fondly at Zox and ignoring Calliope’s confusion entirely. “But X-0X doesn’t transmit, it only records,” Calliope said. “Why can’t I take one of the newer droids?” Wesyse frowned. “Unfortunately, the military did a recall of all of the transmitting droids reporters were using. Turns out there were some technical problems.” Calliope wanted to laugh, but her spine had turned to ice. Did he know how transparent he was being? Stifling the press by removing their ability to transmit video feeds would drive the press in a direction Calliope didn’t want to go. She opened her mouth, but Mandora interrupted her. “Anyway, I’m retiring and it needs a good owner. I know you will treasure it as much as I always have.” She gave it another push, her steely blue eyes locking onto Calliope’s. Take the droid. Calliope’s mind raced as she put her hand over the small dome. They were balanced on the edge of something very sharp now. “Thank you, Mandora. I’ll treasure it.” Much of the HNN staff had plans to go to the terrace of the HoloNet News building to watch the Empire Day parade below. Thousands of officers and soldiers marched by, flanked by the Empire’s machines of war. They were followed by small vehicles showing off the new Imperial TIE striker, designed for both suborbital flight and atmospheric flight, using state of the art technology in navigation and speed. Calliope shook Mandora’s hand, wishing she could talk to her and find out what was really going on. She waved to her coworkers and left during the parade. She was hardly dressed for an Imperial Ball, as she had been expecting an average day at the office, and had to rush home to change. Calliope spared a look over her shoulder as the new TIE fighters were displayed to the crowds. She had hoped to do a story on them, but doubted she’d ever get the chance now if she were doing shallow interviews of famous people.

Calliope rummaged in her closet for her few pieces of fancy clothing. She had reported from the front lines of wars, from the bridges of starships, from high atop a tree as she reported a raid on a droid manufacturing plant. She’d endured a broken arm, several burns, and one cut on her cheek, which she refused to surgically remove, as it was a reminder to all about how seriously she took her job. And now she had to pull out the ivory gown that she had worn to her sister’s wedding. She had to admit it was beautiful, woven with smart strands of synthetic fiber that gave off shimmers of different colors depending on the angle of the light on the dress. The ivory contrasted well with her dark skin and delicate features, although accessorizing with a rusty droid would be challenging. Finally dressed, she put X-0X on her shoulder. It beeped inquisitively at her. Its beep was more like a strangled chirp: this droid had been around for decades, and her boss had never replaced it. “Why Mandora insisted I bring you, I’ll never know,” she said, and then stopped abruptly. X-0X whirred in a way that sounded much like the newer, sleeker droids, and its scratched ocular lens glowed. Had it been modified? A hologram appeared in front of Calliope. Mandora paced


within the small circle of X-0X’s beam, showing finally the energy and fierceness that Calliope had expected. “Calliope. I don’t have much time. As of right now, the Empire is taking over HNN. I’m out, but you can still stay in. They will censor you. They will silence you. They will enrage you.” Mandora stopped and jabbed her finger at Calliope, spitting out one word per jab. “But I need you to stay where you are.” The hologram began pacing again, a few steps to keep within the ability of X-0X to record. “This will be my last message to you. I’m leaving Coruscant. The fight against the Empire is bigger than we ever expected, and I’m going to help them however I can.” “Against the Empire?” Calliope whispered. She’d found evidence of resistance while researching some of her stories, but Mandora had stopped every attempt to report on them. They didn’t have enough to broadcast yet, she’d said. “You have a few choices. I’m sure if you do what Eridan Wesyse wishes you to, you will be rewarded. Voice of the Empire. The Empire does appreciate loyalty. But you’re better than that. You’re smarter than that. And my... friends could use you. The second option available to you is dangerous and,” she paused and smiled, “…subversive.” Calliope listened to the second option, hope and excitement blossoming within her. This was the kind of reporting she could get behind.

X-0X clung to her gown, and she didn’t even mind it crushing the fabric. It burbled and beeped at her as she approached the Imperial Palace. “What exactly did she do to modify you, anyway?” she asked. It remained silent. Calliope walked past the dozens of Imperial guards, and then the helmeted troopers, who always made her shiver. She showed her press credentials and invitation to the stern-faced guard at the top of the staircase. He frowned, casting a suspicious eye on X-0X. “That a recording droid?” “It is,” she said, smiling. “It’s vintage, mostly for show. It’s here with HNN Editor-in-chief Eridan Wesyse’s blessing.” Recognizing the name, he gestured her through. She thought of the impoverished people on far-off systems and wondered who among them would want to know which designer a diplomat from Alderaan would be wearing. But she went dutifully to find out. Oddly enough, Alderaan had sent a junior diplomat who looked as if his suit was very uncomfortable. She joined him at the bar. “You look like this is your first Empire Day,” she said to him, smiling. “I’m Calliope Drouth, HoloNet News.” His pale eyes scanned hers, and he swallowed. “Pol Treader. I recognize you. And what you’re really asking is why Alderaan sent someone so young to such an important day.” She laughed. “If you’re going to succeed in diplomacy, you’re going to have to be much less direct.” She took the drink offered by the bartender. “Diplomacy isn’t my usual job title,” Pol said, pulling at his waistcoat. “I’m here as a favor to the Organas. They couldn’t make it.” That was interesting. “Why not?” He shrugged and looked irritated at her. “They don’t tell me things like that. I’m just an assistant in antiquities.” He wandered away. “Who did your suit?” she called after him, but he was gone.

She stopped herself from chasing after Mr. Antiquities as someone new swept into the room. All eyes fixated on the newcomer, and some young Imperial officers at the bar began whispering in hushed tones. Calliope edged closer to them. “I don’t believe you,” one said to the other. She was tall, nearly two meters, with the same dark skin as Calliope. Her companion was shorter and pale, his cheeks ruddy from already enjoying the flowing alcohol. “Fine, don’t believe me,” he said. “Doesn’t make it any less true.” “You were there, with him? For Project Celestial Power?” she asked. He shushed her frantically, his head swiveling around to see who had overheard. Calliope kept watching the new man entering the room—tall, pale, with a long white cape that shone in the light. Everyone seemed fascinated with him, but he only gave attention to the high-ranking Imperials drinking from thin flutes in the corner. “Yes, I was with him, now be quiet about it. If we’re overheard I could be demoted!” He fingered his insignia of rank on his chest. “And I just got this.” “Yes, you said so. About five times,” his companion said, sounding bored. Calliope looked at their uniforms as if for the first time, and approached. The pale officer looked worried, but stood his ground. “Calliope Drouth, HoloNet News,” she said. “Everyone is impressed with that man who just came in, but I can’t place him. Who is that?” “That is Commander Krennic,” the tall woman said. “He’s the architect behind some of the Emperor’s greatest projects.” “All classified, I would expect,” Calliope said, smiling. “Of course,” the pale officer said. “I would love to find out more about him, Officer...” she raised her eyebrows and waited for him to supply his name. “Tifino. Officer Tifino,” he said. He indicated his companion. “That’s Officer Wick.” Officer Wick bowed, looking amused. Calliope decided she liked her. “I’ll get the next round,” she said. “Incidentally, what do you two think of the fashion here tonight?”

Calliope kept watching the new man entering the room—tall, pale with a long white cape that shone in the light.

Once she had the officers talking, Calliope managed to steer the conversation toward the various dignitaries flaunting themselves in the ballroom. “Now, that is Ambassador Oaan from the third moon around Jaatovi,” Wick said. The ambassador was tall and thin with long black hair cascading down her back, moving with grace through the crowd. She reached Commander Krennic and began speaking with him. “She is so subtle she could step through a lightning storm and not get zapped,” Wick said. “I’d watch out for her.” “Or interview her,” Calliope said, winking. She took a testing step away from her new friends, and they began protesting. “You can’t leave, you just got here!” Tifino said. “You can talk to her later!” Everyone likes the woman buying the drinks, Mandora had always told her, and she returned to them and got another round. If she could make these officers feel they owed her something, so much the better. Calliope pointed to Tifino’s mark of rank. “It looks as if you made an impression on Commander Krennic,” she said,

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handing the bartender credits for the drinks. “It sounds like he’s doing highly classified things. You could be heroes and few would ever know. What does that feel like?” Tifino finished his drink in one gulp and focused on Calliope, blinking a few times. His eyes fell on the silent droid on her shoulder. “He’s already a war hero,” he confided. “I-I can’t tell you why.” “Of course you can’t,” Calliope said, nodding. “That’s not the actions of an officer who’s caught the commander’s eye. Speaking of which, where did he get that amazing cape?” She’d guessed right; neither officer felt like following her lead about fashion. Wick brought up how she could be transferred to Tifino’s ship. “We need scouts more than anything,” he said. “How’s your tracking?” Wick made a face. “I’m a pilot. I haven’t spent time in any terrain but a city since I was a child.” “What do you need with scouts?” Calliope asked. “I’ll bet

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the Emperor is looking for a place to spend a holiday!” She tapped on X-0X and frowned when it did nothing. Then she pulled her small keyboard from her bag and began typing. “Where is he looking to vacation?” Tifino frowned. “No, it’s not like that. Who’d want to spend time on Jedha for fun, anyway?” “Who’d want to scout there?” Calliope said. She got another round of drinks. Tifino excused himself to visit the lavatory. Wick sighed when he was out of earshot. “That guy. A screw-up through the academy. I carried him, you know. And then luck hit him and missed me, and he’s under Krennic and I’m, well...” She looked down at her empty glass and Calliope gently removed it and put a full one there. “I’m doing shuttle runs,” she finally said. “Shuttle pilots can scout,” Calliope said. “You have a wider view of the terrain. You need to seize opportunity, tell them why they need you. You’ve got hot hands at the helm,


“You may just miss something that could make your career. Or you could be lucky enough to miss something that could destroy your career.”

right?” Wick nodded, realization dawning on her face. “You’ve got sharp eyes, right? Sharper than Tifino’s?” “Much sharper,” Wick scoffed. “Then you tell your superiors that shuttle pilots can be just as good at scouting as troops on the ground. Better. You can see lights, smoke, the movement of groups. The Empire needs you to look for hidden enemies.” Wick had been nodding fervently at her, and then frowned and stopped nodding. “No, they’re not looking for enemies. They’re looking for some kind of crystals. What were they called? Cyder? Kyber? Hyper? Something like that. Anyway, Tifino’s team just found a huge stash of them. That’s what got him his new rank.” “And you carried that guy!” Calliope said, eyes wide with outrage. “And I carried that guy,” Wick said firmly, nodding. They clinked glasses and drank. Tifino returned with a confused smile. “Wait, I want in,

what are we toasting?” “To Wick’s future,” Calliope said, raising her glass again. “Who carried you through the Academy,” Wick reminded him. “Who may just be the next hot officer to find the commander some of those fancy crystals!” Tifino looked meaningfully at Calliope, who listed toward the wall and fiddled with X-0X, which was still unresponsive. Wick waved a hand, dismissing her. “She’s as drunk as we are. Besides, her recording droid died a while back.” She gulped and stood a little straighter, looking at Calliope. “You aren’t going to mention this, are you?” “Depends,” she said. “Are you going to tell me who made the commander’s cape or not? Because that’s the story I’m chasing.” They laughed, and Calliope mock frowned at them. “No, really. If I don’t report that, I’m going to get into serious trouble with my new editor. Everyone on Coruscant is going to want one!” The officers laughed, and Wick launched into a very funny joke about bartenders on planets with high seawater content. Suddenly, X-0X gave a strangled chirp and tumbled off of Calliope’s shoulder. It landed hard on its dome and bounced a meter away. Calliope went to retrieve it, and as she reached out, a black boot settled gently on the droid’s still-rolling body and stopped it. She straightened and looked up into the face of Commander Krennic. “Is this yours?” he asked, picking the silent droid up swiftly. Calliope groaned inwardly. “Yes, it’s not the most reliable,” Calliope said, glaring at the little droid. She looked up and met Krennic’s eyes, blue and searching. She held out a gloved hand and he looked at it for a moment, and then shook it instead of giving X-0X back. So she introduced herself instead. “Commander Krennic, it’s an honor. I’m Calliope-” He scrutinized the droid. “Drouth, yes, with HoloNet News,” he said. “I was under the impression we would supply our reporters with better equipment.” “Actually we just heard the military recalled our newer droids. Anything to serve the Emperor’s cause, but that leaves us with, well,” she indicated X-0X’s sorry state. “How old is this droid?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she said. “It was a gift from my former editor. I keep it mainly for nostalgia purposes. And recording, when it works.” “Nostalgia and connections to loved ones,” he mused. “Some would consider it a weakness.” “While others would consider it a comfort,” she said. He smiled slightly. “I would definitely think the inability to record things is a weakness for a reporter. You may just miss something that could make your career. Or you could be lucky enough to miss something that could destroy your career.” Calliope thought of the data that Mandora had sent her. She hadn’t erased it from the droid yet; and now it was in Krennic’s hands. She smiled back at him. “I try not to rely on it too much.”

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“Then how will you gather your information to report on the Imperial Ball?” he asked. “Surely you’re missing all of the gossip by fiddling with a broken droid.” “I’m getting gossip at the bar, sir,” she said. “I just found out your tailor’s name. Do you know that you’re setting fashion trends?” Krennic focused on the officers behind her, who were frozen at attention. “Tifino,” he said. “Are you making the most of your shore leave?” Tifino nodded, unable to speak. “Good.” He looked down at X-0X, held in his long, gloved fingers. “If you’d allow me to borrow this droid, Ms. Drouth,” he said. “I know some tinkers who can fix it right up.” Calliope knew that if she protested too much, she’d make herself look suspicious. She glanced back at Wick and then looked meaningfully at Krennic. Come on, she mouthed. Now’s your chance. Wick swallowed and then lunged forward, stumbling slightly. “Commander,” she stammered, putting a hand on his white coat and then pulling it off as if she just remembered herself. “Officer Ianna Wick, sir, and I wanted to make my case for joining your next mission.” Krennic frowned at her, and opened his mouth, but Wick forged on ahead, “I’m a shuttle pilot, best in my class at the Academy, and Tifino said you needed scouts-” Calliope had no love for the Empire, but she’d developed a soft spot for Wick. She prayed the Imperial wouldn’t blow it by saying too much in front of Calliope. Lucky for all involved, X-0X chose that time to come back online, its sensor glowing again and beeping in a confused way. It buzzed, vibrating in Krennic’s hand. “There you are,” Calliope said, interrupting Wick. She reached up and took the droid from the distracted Krennic, who frowned at her. “He’s working now, sir. Thanks for your offer, but you have more important things to do at this ball. Like listen to this young woman discuss her career with you.” She made a play of looking

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Calliope knew that if she protested too much, she’d make herself look suspicious. She glanced back at Wick and then looked meaningfully at Krennic. around the room and focusing on the miserable nobody from Alderaan. “I see an ambassador I need to talk to, I hope you both have a lovely evening.” She nodded to them both, passed behind Krennic, and then gave Wick a thumbs up. The woman smiled at her before making her case to the stern commander. “She did carry Tifino, after all,” Calliope muttered to herself. She put X-0X on her shoulder where it gripped her as tightly as it had before. “Let’s circle the room once or twice and then get you home and into a good oil bath that will scrub you clean of everything.”

Calliope faced the camera, smiling with experienced ease as the transmission to countless planets concluded. She deftly doublechecked the monitor to ensure her hands were still visible in the feed. “We here at HNN hope you enjoyed your Empire Day. Last night, I was afforded an inside look at the elegance and finery of the Imperial Palace ball.” The monitors showed the footage X-0X had gotten before it had malfunctioned, panning around the room and focusing on the well-dressed dignitaries. “I can report that the fashion of Coruscant is going to be taking its lead from the attendees! From the sharply dressed dignitary from Alderaan to the elegant dress uniforms of the upper


echelon of the Imperial Forces, these attendees showed more than their diplomatic and military might, but also their fashion sense. Our Imperial Forces are, well, a force to be reckoned with, both on the battlefield and in the ballroom! You can find some of the superstar tailors who dressed our dignitaries listed on your screen. You’d better get your call in soon! This is Calliope Drouth, your voice of the Empire.” The light above the camera died, and Calliope sat back and sighed, forcing her shoulders to loosen. Eridan Wesyse hurried up to her, beaming. “Even better than your script, so vivid!” he sang. “I’m going to put you on all the society stories!” He frowned. “I would have liked more interviews with the who’s-who of the Empire, though.” “My droid malfunctioned halfway through the night,” Calliope said truthfully. “I did what I could.” He clapped her on the back and rushed away to converse with another reporter. She finally unclasped her hands. I got away with it. Now the question was, would anyone hear her true report? Mandora’s message had included a file on code phrases and cyphers, which Calliope had used to carefully select the words in her transmission. The position of her hands during the broadcast would clue the subversives in to which algorithm to run on her seemingly vapid report. With any luck, they would be on their way to Jedha within the hour. Calliope didn’t know what kyber crystals were, but if they were important enough for Krennic to go after, they had to be important enough to report. If what Mandora said was true, Calliope was one of many spies, gathering information against the Empire. She thought of Officers Wick and Tifino: possibly invisible “heroes” in the Empire’s eyes. She knew how that felt now. No one would ever know her work, not if she did her job right. No one but X-0X, which sat on her desk in her office, beeping quietly to itself. She was growing fond of the little nuisance.

The events of this story tie in with Star Wars Catalyst: A Rogue One novel by James Luceno, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story novelization by Alexander Freed available now from Del Rey Books.

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Star Wars Insider – January 2017