We all know the on-again, off-again history of Lucasfilm’s plans to (eventually?) release a live-action Star Wars TV series. When/if this project ever gains substantial traction, we don’t yet know. But what we do know as revealed in this interview with CBR.com is that the story of Rogue One was first being considered by John Knoll as a potential part of this live-action series.
CBR: When did the very first glimmers of the idea for the story for “Rogue One” start formulating in your brain, and how quickly did it go from daydream concept to a full-fledged notion to you crossing over from your FX work and saying “I’m a storyteller, and have to get the story told somehow.”
John Knoll: It’s longer than you might think — it was nine years. The first inklings of trying to tell that story happened in Summer 2003 when we were shooting on “Episode III” in Sydney. I had heard that Lucasfilm was developing stories for a potential live action TV series, and they were active in story development at the time. That was kind of intriguing, and I started thinking about, “What would be a fun thing to do as a one-hour episode as a live action ‘Star Wars’ TV show?”
One thought was, “What about a ‘Mission Impossible’-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans? There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!” I started tinkering with this idea internally. Then a day or two later, I asked Rick [McCallum], I heard you were developing this TV show. He started telling me about the era that it takes place in, and the themes of the show. As soon as he started going into that, I realized, actually, that idea has no place in that show, so I just dropped it completely.
It wasn’t until Kathy [Kennedy] announced this new slate of “Star Wars” films that, in addition to “VII,” “VIII” and “IX” that would be continuing the saga, that she also wanted to do these standalone adventure stories: stories that took place in the “Star Wars” universe but weren’t necessarily connected to that through-line. A lot of us were really intrigued by it. “That sounds like fun.” I thought that idea of the mission to steal the Death Star plans, telling that story could make a pretty good standalone feature as well.