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New Star Wars film Rogue One sends statement to the world, says Forest Whitaker

The latest Star Wars movie to join the blockbuster franchise sends a "statement to the world", actor Forest Whitaker has said.

The Oscar-winning actor stars as Saw Gerrera, an old-time insurgent from The Clone Wars, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The hotly-anticipated standalone movie sees British actress Felicity Jones portray Rebel Alliance recruit Jyn Erso, who is asked to join a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the planet-destroying weapon of the evil Empire.

Speaking on the red carpet for the film's premiere at the Tate Modern in central London alongside co-star Jones, Whitaker praised the diversity of the cast.

He told the Press Association: "It deals with people of all different colours, all different cultures coming together after a common cause to help humanity and actually winning and doing so, I think that's a statement to the world on what we need to do."

The pair were joined at the premiere by their co-stars Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen and director Gareth Edwards.

Whitaker said Jones' character in particular caught the message of the film.

"She's really interesting because when you meet her she doesn't even know where she stands, she doesn't know her own identity, she's searching for it in this metaphor to go and find her father and find herself.

"Ultimately she makes a decision about what she thinks is right for humankind and she decides to live her life by that and do what she thinks is necessary to make sure that everyone is offered this opportunity in life to the pursuit of happiness."

Jones said she had "loved" playing Jyn, adding the character felt "instictive".

She told the Press Association: "I just loved walking her walk, I loved turning up on set being her, I loved her agility.

"She's not terribly articulate, she expresses herself very much physically and that was interesting. I had never played a character like that before."

Asked what he had made of the initial reviews of the film, released on Tuesday, Edwards said he had only seen "a few" before the premiere began.

He added: "The review I was most nervous about if I'm honest was George Lucas.

"And about a week ago he got to see the film, and I had a phone call with him and he was very positive and very happy and so that's the review I had to fight to not tear up.

"It meant the world."

The movie takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, and is the first of three planned spin-off films based on the Star Wars universe.

It fills the gap between 2005 prequel movie Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith and 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, which was the first of the films to be shot.

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