Rogue One: Forest Whitaker Compares His Character To Darth Vader


Forest Whitaker told Entertainment Weekly there are similarities between his character in Rogue One, Saw Gerrera, and Darth Vader.

Comparing the character you play in a new Star Wars movie to the legendary Darth Vader is a pretty big statement, especially when your character isn’t even a villain. But Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera from Rogue One isn’t really a hero, either.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about his character, Whitaker said, “There are some similarities [between Saw and Vader]… I don’t know if I should tell you that.” While he didn’t go into explicit detail, he did name a few reasons for that bold assumption.

First, it’s helpful to realize Saw and Vader know each other, and have even worked together. They met when Vader was still a Jedi and helping Saw and his comrades stage an insurgency against the Separatists on Saw’s homeworld of Oberon. By the time the events of Rogue One take place, Saw has moved his home to Jedha, where he is “coordinating a prolonged insurgency against the Imperial occupation” (via Star Wars Databank).

Saw and Vader, though they now operate on opposite spectrum of the galactic civil war, use the same brutal tactics to achieve their goals. Saw believes in doing whatever it takes to defeat the Empire, and Vader obviously feels the same way about defeating the Rebel Alliance in the way he kills anyone who gets in his or the Emperor’s way.

Yet, we heard Saw in the first trailer for Rogue One warning someone – perhaps the movie’s main character, Jyn – about the cost of giving yourself over to pushing the limits of morality. Saw himself pushes those boundaries, but he understands well the consequences of doing so. Some of the consequences of Saw’s decisions were physical, and herein lies another similarity between him and Vader: the suit Saw wears in Rogue One is healing injuries he sustained throughout his long fight against the Empire, essentially keeping him alive.

"“This is his armored suit for flight, but also for maintenance,” Whitaker says of Gerrera’s bulbous chest plate. “He’s been through many conflicts and many wars, so it’s also about [repairing] some of the many injuries he’s had. He wears it all the time.”"

Perhaps it is all he has experienced, physically and emotionally, as a result of his hardcore lifestyle which attracts him to Jyn, who is also passionately rebellious. Whitaker said the two form a close relationship in the film.

"“He’s really close to her, and they have a very powerful relationship,” Whitaker says. “He’s talking about how you maybe make compromises that may harm people, or may harm the situation, or people may question it, but if you’re doing it for the good, there’s a positive thing about that. But what does it make you become? And how do you change as a person?”"

Saw may be trying to save Jyn from making decisions which could alter her and her life forever, as well as hurt the people around her. But for himself, he doesn’t view any of the decisions he made in his life with remorse or a desire to take them back.

"“I don’t think he’s regretful. I think he really believes that what he has done is right,” Whitaker says. “He understands that the universe could be destroyed and worlds could be destroyed if he doesn’t succeed. And he’s one of the only people who will do everything to make sure the Imperial forces don’t.”"

More from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Here is yet another similarity between Saw and Vader: Both of them made terrible decisions in the name of good. But it’s clear who turned out the better man, if only by a small margin.

The closer we get to Rogue One‘s premiere December 16th, the more it becomes apparent how character-focused the film is. The characters we’re being introduced to are complex and will be given complex tests which may change them, for better or worse. People may die in service of their choices. Likewise, the mission to steal the Death Star plans is not going to be as simple and saccharine as a heist story, like a Star Wars version of Ocean’s Eleven. Rather, it is going to be much more intense, and I think the audience is going to get more emotionally invested in it than we thought we would.

By the way, remember the first photo we ever saw of Saw Gerrera? Take a look at it below.

Notice anything missing? During the reshoots which took place in July, Saw was given hair on his head and a fuzzier, grayer beard.

via Entertainment Weekly

When we realized Saw’s look had been changed, we thought it was because the production crew had decided he needed to have more hair for some reason. According to Whitaker, though, we’ll be seeing both versions of Saw in the film.

"“We made some decisions about how the character was progressing. They had a lot of opportunity to make tweaks and different things,” he says. “You’ll see both.”"

I’m betting the first version is from a flashback, while the second is from the present time when the Death Star mission is taking place. It’s nice to know there is a thoughtful reason behind it, rather than the only reason being production changed their minds too late about how they wanted Saw to look.

Next: Who Is Playing Darth Vader In Rogue One?

We may get another look at Saw tonight when the new, full-length trailer for Rogue One premieres on NBC during the Olympics. Check Dork Side for all breakdowns and analyses of the new footage, dialogue, and details contained there.