Director Gareth Edwards reflects on joining Star Wars universe in SXSW speech

This year’s South by Southwest Film Festival is a homecoming of sorts for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards, whose first feature film, Monsters, premiered there almost exactly seven years ago. Fresh off the success of Rogue One, the filmmaker was a keynote speaker at this year’s festival, and his speech covered everything from his career and process to some little-known Rogue One facts.

The SXSW team recently made the speech available online for anyone who couldn’t make it to the annual festival, and it’s an entertaining, interesting speech for both Star Wars fans and anyone interested in the moviemaking business and the art of filmmaking.

While Edwards spends quite a bit of the speech discussing his evolution as a filmmaker and how he got started, Star Wars fans will be particularly interested in some of the material near the end, as he shares some details about making Rogue One.

According to Edwards, the name for the planet Scarif in Rogue One came from an incident in which the name “Gareth” was misheard by a coffee house barista, and Edwards ended up with a cup that had “Scarif” written on it. (This segment occurs around the 47:00 mark in the video.) Later on, Edwards describes the process of bringing the droid K-2SO to life with actor Alan Tudyk, and why there’s a massive amount of unused footage of Tudyk improvising lines that will likely never see the light of the day.

Beyond all of the Star Wars talk, the speech is a fascinating glimpse at the thought process of a filmmaker whose career has been on a fast-rising trajectory over the last seven years — dating back to the moment when he debuted Monsters at this very same festival. That 2010 film, which was equal parts cinematic travelogue and giant-monster story, was nominated for an Audience Award at that year’s SXSW festival and earned Edwards the attention that led to him directing 2014’s Godzilla reboot and then Rogue One.

And that’s quite an achievement for a guy who was toiling away as a visual-effects artist on his home computer less than a decade ago.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Rogue One yet, you’ll be able to do so again when the movie hits the home-video market April 4.

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