With the eighth installment of the “Star Wars” saga still under lock and key, the cast and writer/director Rian Johnson gathered in L.A. to discuss (in carefully monitored terms) what audiences can expect from “The Last Jedi,” which opens in theaters Dec. 15. In addition to the press conference, the event also featured a gallery of some of the partnered merchandise that coincides with the film’s release, as well as a look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the in-progress and long anticipated addition to coming to Disneyland & Walt Disney World in 2019. Some photos of this exhibition can be found at the bottom of this post.
Those participating in the press conference included writer and director Rian Johnson, John Boyega (Finn), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo) , Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domnhall Gleeson (General Hux), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke) and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico).
Rian Johnson began by discussing how to tackle some of the darker themes in the universe, while still maintaining the integrity and spirit of world.
Johnson: I think we’ve been kind of trained to expect it’ll be a little darker and obviously it looks a little darker and… you know, first and foremost we were trying to make it feel like a Star Wars movie. And that means you have the intensity and you’ve got the opera, but it also means that it makes you come out of the theater wanting to run in your backyard, grab your spaceship toys and make them fly around, you know, and that’s a key ingredient to it. So we’re going to go to some intense places in the movie but I hope also it’s fun, it’s funny.
The cast talked about the challenge of moving beyond world-building in “The Force Awakens,” to the character portraits of “The Last Jedi.”
Oscar Isaac: I think what Rian’s done so incredibly well is that he’s challenged deeply every single character, including the droids, you know, with like the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced, and that’s how you’re able to really get to learn about them, on all sides of the spectrum, from light to dark.
Daisy Ridley: Because people responded well to John and I as a team, I was a bit nervous about not being a team so much in this one. So I think for me personally it was a challenge. The film was a challenge … to be in different combinations of people. So in itself, we’re in different situations, we’re with different people that we are learning about, we’re meeting for the first time.
New cast members, Kelly Marie Tran and Laura Dern, talked about the important of strong female characters, both as leads and supports in the film.
Kelly Marie Tran: I think that it feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time. I feel like from the beginning when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice, and I’m so excited that guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt. Every single one is so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
Laura Dern: In the case of the look of my character, I was moved by the fact that he really wanted her strength to first lead with a very deep femininity and to see a powerful female character also be feminine is something that moves away from a stereotype that’s sometimes perceived in strong female characters must be like the boys. I thought that was a really interesting choice to get to witness.
On returning to the set after a short (or very long absence):
John Boyega: I’m still trying to get over it. I can’t lie…. Then when you come back it just feels like you’re back in school, you know, and it’s fun. Every day was a new set. The practical effects I think like doubled in this movie, the sets were bigger and it’s always exciting and amazing, but as everybody has said, you still feel an intimacy when you’re doing these scenes, you know, and independent with a big budget, you know.
Mark Hamill: I don’t think any line in the script epitomized my reaction more than this is not going to go the way you think. And Rian pushed me out of my comfort zone, as if I weren’t as intimidated and terrified to begin with, but I’m grateful, because you have to trust someone and he was the only Obi Wan available to me.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” comes to theaters Dec. 15.