Even if you’re not the biggest fan of CGI actors returned from the dead, you probably had to appreciate the ways that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards tried to bring the events of Star Wars: A New Hope more directly into his film. In several key sequences, Edwards was even able to feature unseen footage from the original 1977 film, causing fans to wonder where that new footage came from (and why they hadn’t seen it before). Are there entire archives of unseen footage that Lucasfilm has been hiding from fans for all these decades?

It turns out the answer to that question is considerably less exciting. According to director Gareth Edwards, the entire thing sort of came about by accident: Edwards was touring Skywalker Ranch  —  the base of operations for Skywalker Sound and a retreat center for those involved with Lucasfilm  —  when he stumbled across a few canisters of film:

As we’re walking around, and doing all the cool things and looking at the Millennium Falcon and trying on Han Solo’s jacket and things like that, in the back at the bottom was all these cans of film. And we said, ‘What are they?’ and they said, ‘Oh, it’s Star Wars.’

The director was told that since the film hadn’t been digitized yet, Lucasfilm staff had neglected to review the footage and see if there was anything new in the canister. When Edwards did what any of us would do in his shoes  —  watch that unused footage immediately  —  he discovered several scenes with X-Wing and Y-Wing pilots from Star Wars that he featured in the final cut of Rogue One. For Edwards, this was another opportunity to smooth the transition between his film and the original Star Wars trilogy, and with the help of Industrial Light and Magic, he created the hybrid footage you saw in the film.

With filmmakers increasingly caught in the uncanny valley for aging down or reanimated passed actors  —  movies like Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War come to mind here  —  it’s nice to see a filmmaker want to connect with the past the old-fashioned way: take a few reels of unused footage and make the whole thing work in post-production. Whether you’ll be seeing Rogue One for the first time or the fourth time this week, keep an eye out for the scenes featuring some noticeable Star Wars pilots.

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