Naming things is hard.
Not all writers can get away with naming characters things like Remus Lupin by simply grabbing at Latin words connected to wolves. Sometimes, original thought is required.
For Gareth Edwards, this was a particular challenge while working on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie features a variety of brand new names for planets, characters, and locations – none of which can have any connection to the real world, because the day has long since passed that Star Wars fans will tolerate any characters simply named “Luke” or “Owen”.
In a keynote speech at the recent SXSW fan expo, the Rogue One director revealed the secret origin of the name of the planet Scarif – it was simply a mistake made by a barista while Edwards was in a coffee shop.
“When they asked for my name I must have said, ’It’s Gareth,’ because they wrote, ’Scarif’ on the coffee.”
Apparently, this was all it took to name the most important planet in the movie.
The entire keynote is a fascinating watch if you happen to have an hour to sit down and drink in stories from the production of Rogue One. There’s a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes information here, and considering the turbulent development period that the movie had, it’s fun to learn some of what was going on behind closed doors.
So the next time a barista spells your name wrong on a coffee cup, make a note – you never know when you might need a nonsense word to name a planet in a popular science fiction franchise.