Why Gareth Edwards Reacted ‘Oh No’ When He First Met Future Leading Man John David Washington

Washington plays the lead in the “Rogue One” director’s upcoming sci-fi epic “The Creator”

John David Washington as Joshua in "The Creator" (20th Century Studios)

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and John David Washington certainly kept that in mind when meeting with “The Creator” writer and director Gareth Edwards.

Edwards, best known for helming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” told the story about meeting his future lead when asked about casting for “The Creator.”

“It was during the pandemic we were casting the film, so it was really hard to meet anybody,” Edwards recounted during a preview for the sci-fi epic on Tuesday. “But fortunately, [Washington] lives in LA. And I heard through his agents, ‘Hey, he’d meet you anytime you want or go for a meal.’ So I did; I met him just down the road from here actually. And he walks in — it’s the pandemic — so he’s got his mask on. But it was a Star Wars mask. It had a Star Wars logo on it!”

“And I initially thought, oh no, he’s doing this because of ‘Rogue One,’” Edwards added. “He sat down and he admitted he’s a massive Star Wars fan. And he’s like, ‘I’ve been wearing this mask every single day for a whole year/the whole pandemic. I thought about not wearing it to this meeting, but they felt false. So I thought it’d be like a good icebreaker.’”

Apparently, it worked.

“We hit it off straight away,” Edwards recalled. Washington was cast as Joshua, a conflicted soldier, after their meeting.

Edwards turned to both the familiar and new to cast “The Creator” supporting roles.

For Harun, an AI leader, Edwards turned to an alumnus from his film “Godzilla.”

“Ken Watanabe is the only actor I’ve worked work with twice,” Edwards admitted. “I don’t know if that says something about me. But I always want to do something new. And so for the longest time, I didn’t want to think about Ken for this role. And the second he turned up on set, you feel like such an idiot. It was obviously supposed to be kept from the beginning

“Every time you hold the camera at Ken’s in the shot, it feels like this strange hybrid of Kurosawa meets Star Wars or something, which was exactly what we were going for. It gives you goosebumps, there’s something about that guy. He’s just got this face. I think the reason he’s so successful internationally is not it’s not really about what he says; he can convey so much with just his looks.”

An open international casting call was held to fill the role of Alphie, an AI child.

After narrowing the hundreds of submissions, Edwards met with the top ten young prospects, with Madeleine Yuna Voyles being the first.

He recalled being left in tears after she read for her scenes.

“I hate movies about little kids because they can tend to be so annoying,” Edwards said. “And that was my biggest fear is we’re gonna get one of these really annoying kid movies. And so it was like the biggest relief when [we found her]. She’s beyond her years, it’s like she’s reincarnated.”

Check out Washington, Watanabe and Voyles in the trailer for “The Creator” below. The film opens in theaters and IMAX on Sept. 29.