STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
“Breathe. Just breathe,” as we told our correspondent when he raved how great Celebration was.
Rian Johnson and the cast of Episode VIII reveal the secrets of the Force…
Isaid to Rian, ‘You can’t catch lightning in a bottle over again. Truth be known, I’m terrified,’” Mark Hamill announces to a capacity crowd during the four-day Star Wars Celebration get-together in Orlando. “You know what he said? ‘So am I.’ Now, that’s a director I can love.”
While terror is in short supply thanks to the absence of Adam Driver’s Han Solo-slayer, there’s ample love to go around during Celebration’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel. Hosted by Josh Gad, whose Instagram interrogation of Daisy Ridley earned him a seat on the most exciting stage in the galaxy, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and writer/director Rian Johnson are on hand to welcome some familiar faces – and a brand new one – to Orlando, while giving us an ewok-sized glimpse of the next entry in the Skywalker saga.
“What is very apparent from where we begin with The Last Jedi is Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke,” Ridley beams. “As a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect.” The son of Skywalker will finally get to open his mouth in The Last Jedi, and is “significantly important” to the film, according to Kennedy, but don’t expect TLJ to go to town on the 30-year gap in Luke’s history. “In VII you discovered Luke is a hermit on this island,” Hamill says. “To a certain extent it’s not Luke’s story anymore.”
There’ll be much more to The Last Jedi than Luke and Rey’s Force training, anyway. For starters, The Force Awakens’ beloved ball droid is back. “The best advice I got was from J.J. Abrams’ editors, who told me you can’t have
‘RIAN WRITES AS BEAUTIFULLY AS HE DIRECTS, WHICH IS QUITE INCREDIBLE’ KATHLEEN KENNEDY
enough BB-8,” Johnson smiles. “We followed their advice; he’s the Buster Keaton of this movie.” Meanwhile, Finn is set to make a full recovery and “he’s not playing this time” according to John Boyega. “In The Last Jedi, it’s a test for all the characters, but specifically for Finn,” he teases. “He wants to find his place now. Is he going to be part of the Resistance or is he going to keep running away from The First Order?”
Finn’s latest companion is also in attendance – newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, who has “the biggest new part in the movie” according to Johnson. “My character’s name is Rose,” Tran reveals. “She’s part of the Resistance. And she works in maintenance.” Johnson sees important parallels between Rose and Luke. “The notion that anyone out there can step up and turn into a hero, that’s really where the character of Rose comes from,” he explains.
Rose will follow the long tradition of formidable Star Wars women, embodied best, of course, by General Leia. “Carrie is remarkable in the movie,” says Kennedy. “What
Rian wrote and the performance she ends up giving, I think you guys are going to find that an amazing tribute to her talent.” Fisher even had a hand in crafting the film’s script. “I connected with her first and foremost as a writer,” Johnson says. “I would go to her house and sit on her bed for hours and go through the script and we would just have these stream-of-consciousness jazz poetry ad lib sessions.”
Johnson also gave the briefest of plot teases, and it seems like The Last Jedi will follow in the footsteps of
The Empire Strikes Back by putting The First Order on the offensive. “Starkiller Base [ was a] big loss, but they did manage to take out the seat of the Republic, and that’s thrown the galaxy into chaos,” Johnson says. “The First Order are jumping on that at the beginning of our movie very aggressively… so things are going to get dire.”
The panel ends with a first look at the spectacular new teaser trailer (see page 88), but the kindest words are reserved for Johnson, who holds the future of a galaxy far, far away in his hands. “He is on his way to standing alongside many of the great filmmakers that I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Kennedy says. “He also writes as beautifully as he directs, which is quite incredible. So it’s a pretty fantastic package.”
Star Wars: The last jedi OPENS IN DECEMBER.
Mark Hamill, Kelly Marie Tran, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Rian Johnson on the Celebration stage.
luke behind you Josh Gad with some of the Episode VIII cast, plus director Rian Johnson and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.