A new trailer for the upcoming “Star Wars” anthology film, “Rogue One,” made its debut during NBC’s primetime Rio Olympics coverage on Thursday. And its arrival sparked as much excitement as the Games themselves.
“Rogue One” takes place between the prequel and original trilogies as the Empire’s hold on the galaxy continues to strengthen. Darth Vader has disappeared into the shadows since the events of “Revenge of the Sith,” though his influence is still felt over all the planets under his control. Meanwhile, a ragtag rebel militia led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), are sent in to pull off a mission that could be the last chance to defeat the Emperor. Their job: steal the plans to the Death Star.
The trailer opens with Erso being led into the Rebel Alliance’s war room in cuffs. The rebels make a deal with her: if she gets the Death Star plans, her criminal record will be wiped clean. From there, we meet other members of Erso’s team, including Alliance intel officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Force warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), and Clone War veteran Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). The trailer also marks the first time we get to hear the voice of the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).
But the moment that will get “Star Wars” fans’ blood pumping the hardest comes at the very end, where for a split second we see the back of Darth Vader’s iconic helmet.
A teaser poster for “Rogue One” was unveiled at last month’s Star Wars Celebration Europe in London. The poster featured a battle on the tropical planet of Scarif, with rebels dueling with stormtroopers in shallow beaches while the Death Star looms large in the sky. The scenes in Scarif were filmed on location in the Maldives, with members of the Maldivian military playing some of the stormtroopers.
This is the second time Lucasfilm has debuted a “Star Wars” trailer during primetime sports television, as Disney-owned ESPN aired a trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” during halftime of a “Monday Night Football” broadcast last year. Interestingly, there’s a connection between the Olympics and two of the most famous scenes in “Star Wars” history.
Bob Anderson, a British fencer who competed in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, was responsible for choreographing the lightsaber duels between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” Anderson also served as the stunt double for those scenes, wearing the Vader suit while dueling with Mark Hamill. Anderson later choreographed sword fights in films like “Highlander,” “The Princess Bride,” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“Rogue One” is directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) and stars Jones, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna and Forest Whitaker. James Earl Jones will also reprise his role as the voice of Darth Vader in a cameo.
“Rogue One” arrives in theaters Dec. 16.