Master troll George Lucas was among the luminaries asking J.J. Abrams about Star Wars and his other projects for Vanity Fair.
The Associated Press was first to ask The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams about how Luke Skywalker has been missing from all the promotional material. “These are good questions to be asking,” he said. “I can’t wait for you to find out the answer.”
“It’s no accident,” he continued.
One thing we can put to rest: Luke is not Kylo Ren. Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren, not Mark Hamill, which we’ve known since the Vanity Fair shots were unveiled in May. Bring up the Kahn fib from Star Trek Into Darkness all you like, but no one was going around saying that Benedict Cumberbatch’s role was actually being played by Bruce Greenwood. A ten-year-old video of Mark Hamill saying he’d have liked a more complicated arc in Return of the Jedi is not really the best evidence for that actually happening now.
Abrams also addressed where production stands: “The visual effects process goes on for so long that my guess is we’ll probably be doing visual effects for the next three or four weeks, even though the cut will be done before then. We’re in the editing room working on the cut, going over visual effects and going over reviews. We still have another scoring session with John Williams, who’s a god when it comes to music.”
J.J. Abrams was recently part of a Vanity Fair talk with producer Brian Grazer and Apple’s Jony Ive. In addition to telling the story of how he turned it down at first yet again, he also confirms that he has final cut on The Force Awakens – although Disney being Disney, the contract would allow otherwise.
He also praises the Disney folks, saying “I cannot say enough about how Bog Iger and Alan Horn have understood this thing that is now part of the Disney company. And they’re not trying to Disney-fy it, they’re not doing anything other than, I think, an incredibly smart thing, which is letting Kathleen Kennedy — who is a remarkable person and producer — run and lead Lucasfilm to a place where I think it wants to go. They let us make the movie we wanted to make.” (via)
Legendary poster artist Drew Struzan told Movie Weekly that The Force Awakens is “probably going to be the best Star Wars you’ve ever seen.” Pretty high praise, even from a guy being paid by Lucasfilm. He also talks about how J.J. Abrams called him up, how much of the film he’s seen, his process, and why the lightsaber colors on the Revenge of the Jedi poster were reversed.
→ Lucasfilm has trademarked new new names. They could be for The Force Awakens, Rogue One, or just about anything, really.
→ Yet more D23 video: Lupita Nyong’o on being a part of the franchise and her other Disney roles, Abrams on what fans can expect, Oscar Isaac’s favorite character, and Daisy Ridley hopes that her and John Boyega’s friendship comes through on screen.
→ Spoiler corner: A tiny bite-sized scoop of information about Poe Dameron’s squadron name.
→ On that note, a nice, if top-heavy, piece from newcomer The Star Wars Post on if Star Wars 7 News leaking the Luke Skywalker image crossed a spoiler line. I’ll just say that SW7N has never exactly been known for their sound judgement, which is why I tend to warn so profusly when linking them.
Amid the flood of The Force Awakens stuff being found on store shelves, a box was found that had a very specific kind of wording. Could it be movie’s opening crawl? The box images have been removed, but head over to Making Star Wars to read it.
→ It’s not really news, but it’s cute edition: Oscar Isaac was on Live with
Kelly Jane Lynch and Michael the other day, and he talked a little about his family’s themed Star Wars parties. And J.J. Abrams talks to Entertainment Weekly about the first time he saw Star Wars.
→ Stop asking about Darth Plagueis already. It’s just embarrassing at this point.
→ John Boyega’s next step? He’s going to be in an adaption of Dave Eggers’ The Circle with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.
Entertainment Weekly dropped their last 3 Fall Movie Preview stories today. First up, the reveal of Simon Pegg’s role… Sort of. It’s not so much who he’s playing (“he won’t be recognizable,” J.J. Abrams says) but what he was doing behind the scenes.
“He was a sounding board,” Abrams says. “He would drop by the set because he wanted to, and when he could, he would help… We could talk about things, and he was a perfect combination of incredibly smart screenwriter, fan of the series, critical fan of the series, and friend of mine – but not just blindly supportive. He was an honest, critical friend. And he wasn’t so close to it that he became immune to things. He would come in with fresh eyes and very smart ideas. He’s one of a handful of people along the way that has been really priceless.”
→ EW asks who the film’s “Ralph McQuarrie” is. Abrams points not only to the actual Ralph McQuarrie and his work for the original trilogy, but production designer Rick Carter.
→ Abrams adresses the fandom, keeping secrets, Ben Burtt, Andy Serkis and fear. He confirms that some of the things they’ve already put out are red herrings.
This morning we learned that not only is Kylo Ren the cover boy for Entertainment Weekly’s Fall Movie Preview, but a couple of things about the character himself. And, amazingly? That’s not all. We’ll get to Kylo in a few, but first, the generalities…
→ How did Kathleen Kennedy get Abrams on the hook to direct Episode VII? She asked him, “Who is Luke Skywalker?’” And for a movie that’s shied away from talking about Luke much at all, his presence is certainly felt in EW’s cover story. How have things changed for the classic trio, and how haven’t they? We don’t get many details, but you can certainly read a lot into Lawrence Kasdan’s comments:
“I thought, ‘Wow, okay, these people have lived — they’re in a different place in their lives, Han and Leia and so on. They’ve lived the same 30 years I have. What would that be like? How would you see things differently?’” Kasdan says. “And I was trying to figure out how I saw things differently, and one of the surprises is that you don’t learn all that much. You haven’t become much wiser than you were, and things are not clearer to you, and the world is just as confusing as it always was — and that’s a kind of lovely thing to get to write about again. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom; it just brings experience.”
→ As widely assumed, the lightsaber we see in the second trailer is indeed the one Luke had and lost at Cloud City.
→ There have been rumors that Abrams might return to close out the trilogy, but he shoots those down pretty conclusively: “No, I’m not going to direct Episode IX, as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies.”
→ We get a look at several new pictures – some that we’ve seen fuzzy from the conventions (General Hux!) but a couple that are brand new.
→ There’s also a story on the origins of some of the character names – fitting, since Entertainment Weekly was the first to reveal many of them back in December. We get nothing for Finn and Rey – of course their lack of last names are “completely intentional” – though we do get a name for the new alien (played by Kiran Shah) and his ride: Teedo and his luggabeast. Fear not: Poe Dameron, BB-8, General Hux, and Captain Phasma get more details.
→ Now, finally, let’s unpack a few details about our villain. He may or may not be the Darth Vader fanboy we’ve been speculating about, but he is “well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film,” J.J. Abrams told EW. The helmet’s origins will be explained in the film, but it’s left unclear if the nod to Vader is intentional on the part of the character or just the design team. Abrams also confirmed something that’s been long-suspected: The broadsaber was his own creation. It’s “something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” Abrams said.
→ Here’s another key quote from Abrams: “As you see in the best of storytelling, and no doubt the best of Star Wars, these are tales in which an everyperson has to step up. And I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn’t as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader,” Abrams says. “And I think that there are two sides to the Force. Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here.”
→ A few more hints, this time from Lawrence Kasdan: “I’ve written four Star Wars movies now, and there’s never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays. I think you’re going to see something that’s brand new to the saga.” How so?
He’s full of emotion. No matter how we express ourselves in the world, whether we hide it and act very calm or whether we’re very out there and demonstrative, everybody’s roiling with emotion. And you want your characters to be that way, too. Then they have to deal with their emotions as best they can, with what they are.
→ Our biggest tangible clue? We now know a little something about the name… The “Ren” part comes from a group called “the Knights of Ren.” Is Kylo his title? How many more Rens are there? (For our spoiler readers: Seven, perhaps?)
Tomorrow, EW will bust out Han Solo… Stay tuned!
And today’s hot rumor is… The Force Awakens’ Blu-ray release date, maybe. It’s April 26, 2016, according to Jedi News. Seems pretty likely, but man it’s weird that we’re already at the point where rumors are dealing with the home releases.
→ There’s a new Adam Driver interview at Esquire. This publicity tour is going to be interesting, that’s for sure.
→ Do we have a new planet name from LEGO? Planet name? Maybe a ship name? It’s a name, in any case.
→ Video: Yes and No questions with J.J. Abrams.