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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is peeling back the curtain.
In a Vanity Fair cover story by David Kamp published online Wednesday, director Rian Johnson, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the film’s stars reveal the challenging journey of making the sequel and share never-before-told tidbits about its characters and settings.
Here are a few of the highlights from the piece, which comes one day before the 40th anniversary of Star Wars hitting theaters in 1977.
Don’t expect Luke and Rey to be all about the training.
From the trailer, one might guess Luke (Mark Hamill) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) spend a sizable amount of time training, akin to Yoda and Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. But Johnson said the Luke/Rey relationship is not totally analogous to the Yoda/Luke relationship.
“There’s a training element to it,” Johnson said, “but it’s not exactly what you would expect.”
He also confirmed that Luke has been staying on Ahch-To, the home planet to the last Jedi temple, where he’s been living among the planet’s indigenous race. Johnson declined to give details on the aliens, simply noting they are “not Ewoks.” (So much for anyone hoping for a Return of the Jedi-style party at the end of this film.)
We now know who the new characters are (sort of).
At Star Wars Celebration in April, the Last Jedi team revealed that Kelly Marie Tran’s character was a maintenance worker named Rose, who has a key part to play in the film. The Vanity Fair story now reveals Rose’s sister Paige (played by Veronica Ngo) will appear in the film, and that Laura Dern’s character is the ominously named Vice Admiral Holdo.
Other news: Benicio Del Toro’s mystery character will not be named in Last Jedi, but the filmmakers called him DJ.
“You’ll see — there’s a reason why we call him DJ,” Johnson said.
We will see the galaxy’s wealthy side.
Rose and Finn (John Boyega) will travel to a casino city called Canto Bight, which Johnson described as “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief.” This sounds like the polar opposite of A New Hope‘s Cantina.
Episode IX would have been Carrie Fisher’s movie
Following the death of Carrie Fisher, the Lucasfilm team not only had to mourn a member of the family, but eventually had to plan a future for Star Wars without General Leia. The plan had been for Leia to take a larger role in IX, and after wrapping Last Jedi, Fisher said that was her hope as well.
“The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison [Ford] was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII,” said Kennedy. “She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”
Hamill wished Luke, Leia and Han could all have been there for Han’s death scene in Force Awakens.
Hamill had an idea for how the original trio could have reunited onscreen, however briefly, at the moment of Han’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He pointed out that in the original trilogy, it’s established that Luke and Leia can communicate telepathically, so the actor theorized that Leia would sense Han was in danger and then contact Luke for help.
“And she won’t succeed, and, in frustration, she’ll go herself. Then we’re in the situation where all three of us are together, which is one of my favorite things in the original film, when we were on the Death Star,” said Hamill. “It’s just got a fun dynamic to it. So I thought it would have been more effective, and I still feel this way, though it’s just my opinion, that Leia would make it as far as she can, and, right when she is apprehended, maybe even facing death—Ba-boom! I come in and blow the guy away and the two of us go to where Han is facing off with his son, but we’re too late.”
There’s much more over at Vanity Fair, including breathtaking photos from Annie Leibovitz. A particular standout features Hamill and Fisher in costume together. Check out the four covers below.
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