Gary Whitta Talks ‘Rogue One’ Alternate Ending And Writing Obstacles

Star Wars fans did not know what to expect with the stand-alone film Rogue One. When the movie was finally released, fans everywhere were genuinely happy with the film overall, and were even more happy with the return cameo of Darth Vader. In recent interviews with both and Entertainment Weekly, the screen writer Gary Whitta had quite a few things to say in regards to the latest Star Wars film Rogue One. A spoiler alert is in effect for those who have not yet seen the film.

Gary Whitta recently sat down with Patrick Cavanaugh, a writer for While writing the film, Gary Whitta always had the feeling that the main characters should die by the end of the film. The writers wrote different endings to the film due to Disney and Lucasfilm having control the degrees of violence that take place within the film. They felt that Disney and Lucasfilm would never allow for such a dark ending. With Disney’s demographic audience, one would think that the studios would never allow for a death filled ending such as the one in Rogue One. After toying with the ending multiple times. Gary Whitta finally decided that they tell the studios their plan for the ending. To their surprise Disney and Lucasfilm had no problem with the ending, the studios even encouraged their desired ending.

“That was our original instinct. The very first meeting with Gareth I remember saying, ‘I kind of feel like they all need to die, but there’s no way Lucas … There’s no way Disney’ll let us do that. We can’t kill everybody. It’s a Disney movie.’ And yet, they were fully supportive of it, and it’s actually one of the coolest things about the film.” -Gary Whitta

Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with Gary Whitta and discussed the alternate endings that they had worked on previously before deciding on the ending that we all know today. Gary Whitta stated that the only two characters that were to survive by the films end were Jyn and Cassian. The other characters within the film were to die during their epic sacrifice. The Alternate endings consisted of a similar plot. The death star was to arrive and blow up the station containing the plans, this was to eliminate the tapes the rebels were desperately trying to retrieve. There was to be no broadcast of the tapes like in the ending we all saw. Jyn and Cassian had stolen the tapes and waited for help. A rebel ship was to help save Jyn and Cassian, they would all escape off the planet. Princess Leia was to arrive and the ship-to-ship transfer was still to happen.

“A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” Whitta says. “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”

Darth Vader would breach the ship and lay waste to most of the crew, much like in the ending of the final version of the film. The rest was to play out similar to the ending we have all seen. The audience would have been left wondering what happened to Jyn and Cassian. It would have been revealed that they escaped off the rebel ship that Darth Vader had slaughtered. They got away in an escape pod that the enemy ships would have detected as random debris.

“They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”

A similar trope was used in The Empire Strikes Back when Han solo escaped similarly by escaping enemy radar disguised as debris. The writers decided to go with their original ending, which they pitched to the studios and to their surprise got full support of it. We’re all glad Entertainment Weekly had the recent interview and was able to retrieve the alternate ending from Gary Whitta. Although the ending may have been tragic for the beloved characters of Rogue One, it was their ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of the future that made their story legendary and heroic. It realistically portrays the sad truth with war and revolution, there will not always be happy endings. Their sacrifice was a noble one. Their mission led to the eventual downfall of the empire, and the success of the rebel cause. This stand-alone film has been an excellent addition to the Star Wars universe.