How do you compete with the ultimate villain Darth Vader? Don’t even try. So says Ben Mendelsohn who goes toe-to-toe with the dark lord in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
“When you’ve got Darth Vader on the playing field, no one is taking his spot,” the Aussie star says. “He is one of the greatest villains of all time; no one’s going to top Darth so you can relax and do what you need to do.”
Consequently, Mendelsohn and the filmmakers decided to take the newest Star Wars’ new villain Director Krennic in a different direction.
“Krennic believes in the Empire very thoroughly,” says Mendelsohn of his character. “He sees it as a way of maintaining order and that the Empire is essentially correct in what it does. But he is someone from the outer colonies, a guy who has worked his way up. He’s not officer class, but he’s gotten to where he is because he’s driven and can just do it, and he knows that.”
To further differentiate Krennic from Vader, the costume department dressed the character in white, a nod towards a minor character in A New Hope called Yularen, who was an intelligence officer and appeared fleetingly in a white tunic.
Krennic is the also only character in the film to carry a pistol – although as Mendelsohn explains, when you are Director Krennic you don’t really need to have a weapon. “I figured the pistol has likely been passed down through generations,” he says. “It’s a powerful three-shooter. But Krennic doesn’t draw it very often; he doesn’t need to.”
Although keen create a distinct identity for his character, Mendelsohn remains a big fan of the original movie.
“I loved everything about Star Wars,” he enthuses. “I still remember the bubble gum cards that you would get, and I still remember there was a card with Chewbacca and Han sort of like going, ‘pew-pew’! And it was like number 77, I think, in the series. It was very hard to get, and I wound up getting two of them. It took a lot of chewing gum, but I was very glad I got two. Star Wars was a very big deal.”