The synopsis of the excellent ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘ (2016) was basically the entire opening crawl from ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ (1977) and it was the first Star Wars film to introduce locations with on-screen captions. The real filming locations were fairly alluring, and as diverse as Iceland, Jordan, Maldives and Guatemala but the one which features here is a lot less glamorous!
The Death Star plans are kept in a secure facility on Scarif, the planet where the Imperial Security Complex is located. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) infiltrate this complex, and on 91 minutes we see the latter two walking along the platform which is actually Canary Wharf Tube Station on the Jubilee Line in London. For the record, this platform is actually the widest ‘island’ one on the whole Underground system measuring at 17.2 metres.
The budget did not allow for creating this additional set, so director Gareth Edwards opted to use Canary Wharf station for its strikingly futuristic design. Everything was naturally done in complete secrecy to prevent internet leaks so props and costumes were smuggled in and out. Scenes had to be filmed between midnight and 4 am when the Underground system is closed and that included adding and taking away the set decoration to make it look a bit more Star Wars-like.
On 93 minutes you can see how the Canary Wharf Underground platform sign (and the bench that surrounds it) is cleverly covered up with set dressing as a load of stormtroopers race to find the trespassers.
The teaser trailer had a slightly different shot which I don’t think appeared in the movie. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise though as much of the trailer footage never featured in the final theatrical cut due to the extensive reshoots which were done when Tony Gilroy was brought in to edit that footage and revise the script. The first shot just flips the last image I mentioned.
This enormous station is the only London tube station to have been designed by Sir Norman Foster and it was built in a disused dock. This old Docklands area had a huge makeover in the 1990s and futuristic looking architecture began to pop up as it was positioned as a financial and commercial hub. The station’s huge escalators first appeared on the big screen on 17 minutes in Danny Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later…‘ (2002)
…and they could then be seen around the 20 minute mark in ‘Men In Black International‘ (2019).
As for ‘Rogue One‘, the Maldives and Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire (UK) were also used to portray the tropical islands and oceanic paradise-like planet of Scarif. It’s name was actually given a helping hand by Starbucks! The coffee shop chain is famed for writing customers names on the cups and director Gareth Edwards’ name was misspelled as “Scareth” which I assume came from him saying “It’s Gareth” too quick for the barista to fully catch. The name Scarif also bears a striking similarity to the acronym SCIF – a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. A SCIF is a secure facility used to store sensitive or classified data so it’s rather apt.
Bonus: As the end of ‘Rogue One‘ ties into the start of ‘A New Hope‘ (1977) there are inevitably a few shots on board the Tantive IV which gives me the perfect chance to re-cycle the photos that Richard Richard (not a typo!) and I took on the recreation at the now-defunct London Film Museum in 2010.
You can see other Star Wars Traveller entries by clicking on the following: