Star Wars: Rogue One's weapon design is only 10% science fiction, says Gareth Edwards

If you think Star Wars and think futuristic sci-fi weaponry, you're not alone. Star Wars: Rogue One director Gareth Edwards thought the same when he started work on the movie, but was quickly corrected by the designers. "In your brain you think Star Wars is 50% sci-fi and 50% historical/real world, but it’s really like 90% historical/real world and 10% science fiction,” he explains in an interview in the new issue of SFX magazine. 

"To the point where when they were designing all the weapons and the guns, one of the first faux pas I committed is they would show me ideas for guns for Deathtroopers," he continues. "They’d have all these different designs and you’d say, this one feels too antiquated, this one feels like something they’d have in World War 2. They’d say that’s exactly the Stormtrooper weapon from A New Hope. [Back then] they were just grabbing real world guns and costume, and just doing a little thing to it that made it feel like Star Wars – if you go too far it’s Flash Gordon, or it’s Star Trek."

And those pleasing matching shapes of the Star Wars universe? They're no accident. Everything is carefully designed to bring that specific feel to the world. "If you look at the [original designers] Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston and everyone else, they have a certain aesthetic that they can’t shake off, and it’s really great," Edwards explains. "You see a lot of repetitive shapes and ideas. An obvious one is that the Death Star looks very similar to the top of R2-D2’s head. It’s got all the same proportions, and you see these shapes recurring throughout, so the trick was to try and look at those shapes and subconsciously copy them and put them into designs."

Rogue One also has its own new line up of ships to add to the Star Wars universe - hello, U-Wing - and Edwards took the time to made sure that each one was perfect and fit into the world we already know so well. "It’s like a dream situation to be trying to come up with the ship you didn’t see in the original trilogy that feels like it might exist," he confirms. "That took ages, about six months. There were literally thousands of designs – we didn’t go, ‘Okay, let’s design a U-Wing’ It’s let’s do whatever looks good and then we’ll pick a letter of the alphabet that it most looks like!"

Read the full interview with Gareth Edwards in the brand new issue of SFX magazine out now. Alternatively, subscribe to future issues here

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.