Total Film - - Contents - Words Jor­dan Far­ley

“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


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.

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