In addition to a heap of new characters, including Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will further expand the Star Wars universe by introducing new worlds. Thanks to a panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe, we know one of these to be Scarif, the tropical location shown on the film’s poster. And during a post-panel discussion with director Gareth Edwards, he revealed the existence of another previously unknown planet, Jedha.
Jedha has been glimpsed in the initial Rogue One trailer and behind-the-scenes sizzle reel from Star Wars Celebration, and ahead of the new trailer debut on Thursday, Edwards tells EW that it’s a holy land. He explained:
“It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage. It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory…for reasons we probably can’t reveal…There’s something very important in Jedha that serves both the Jedi and the Empire. It felt very much like something we could relate to in the real world.”
EW writer Anthony Breznican postulates that thing is kyber crystals, the Force-sensitive substance that’s used to create lightsabers, as well as weapons of mass destruction for ancient Sith. While we continue to consider other theories, we at least know why Jyn and her band of Death Star plan-snatchers are there.
“Within Jedha, even though there’s the oppressive foot of the Empire hanging over them, there’s a resistance that won’t give up and our characters have to go and meet people there to try and secure a person from this group.”
It would seem that this person is Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind, non-Jedi warrior monk of sorts. We’ve seen him fighting Stormtroopers in the trailer, and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said, “He very much still believes in everything the Jedi were about.”
Edwards also noted about Jedha:
“The Force is basically in Star Wars like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie. We were trying to find a physical location we could go to that would speak to the themes of losing your faith and the choice between letting the Empire win, or evil win, and good prevailing. It got embodied in this place we called Jedha.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters on December 16.