StarWars.com has the official announcement that Episode VIII has begun production at Pinewood this morning. It adds officially adds three new actors: Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. (Entertainment Weekly takes a look at Tran’s previous work.)
Returning from The Force Awakens are Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis.
Video footage shows director Rian Johnson, Hamill and Ridley filming on Skellig Micheal in September, and a hint as to where VIII picks up…
…Or is it? Note that only one shot – Ridley holding out the saber – is actually a close duplicate to what we saw in The Force Awakens. While they may be keeping things less restrictive this time, let’s not put too much faith in what they’re willing to show us.
Meanwhile, as the day winds down…
→ J.J. Abrams talks to io9 about the script process (including Michael Arndt’s exit,) starting fresh with Lawrence Kasdan and even the Expanded Universe. (On that note, The Hollywood Reporter on the pre-Abrams story meetings.) At Nerdist, he says he wants to see Selma’s Ava DuVernay do a Star Wars film. She seems game! And Pablo Hidalgo’s fame continues to spread, as he’s the subject of the first question from the Associated Press.
→ Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are in the New York Times! With the AP, John shares the story of how (and why) he got Robert Downey Jr. as his mentor in fame. But he couldn’t resist getting a little saucy about Star Trek with Yahoo. (Well, about William Shatner, technically. Which is, I believe, legal under the Carrie Directive)
→ It was Oscar Isaac’s turn on Good Morning America today, where he talked about flying an X-wing.
→ A film still of Billie Lourd in the movie has been floating around for a while now (plus she was in one of the first TV spots) but People has an official character portrait, in which we can see she wears her hair in a toned-down version of Leia’s iconic buns. Still no character name, though.
→ J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver were in Seoul today goofing around, while Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o and Kathleen Kennedy were in Mexico City. I can’t find any reports in English, but damn they looked cool.
→ Also: The Force Awakens was the #1 movie on Facebook for 2015; Yesterday’s spoilerific Rey action figure got DMCA’d; NASA scientist would pick Threepio over BB-8 or Artoo to take to space. I am outraged! I have to go lay down now.
J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and several of The Force Awakens’ stars were on hand today for #TwitterAwakens, a live Q&A via the @starwars Twitter. It was a crazy whirlwind, and yes, Harrison Ford dropped what may be a major spoiler – if you haven’t been paying attention. (It’s the spoiler – it’s not about Luke or anyone’s parentage, though he did spell Kylo as ‘Kilo,’ which is hilarious.)
Also, Mark Hamill trolled, and Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac sang a (brief) duet.
I’ve collected most of the tweets, but to see the actual questions you have to read it on Twitter. If you want to avoid Harrison’s spoiler, skim over everything from the Lupita picture (or Carrie’s “Good, I was jealous.”) until you see Harrison’s own mug (above center.)
Luke Skywalker is found! Or his earthly avatar Mark Hamill is, anyway. The actor suits up as a First Order stormtrooper and heads out to Hollywood Blvd. in the latest Force for Change video.
Rolling Stone has a great article going behind-the-scenes on The Force Awakens with J.J. Abrams. They talk to several cast members, and reveal three great new stills as well.
J.J. Abrams and the cast of The Force Awakens talk about the new Omaze initiative today. It launched with help from Harrison Ford last week, but a key cast member is missing from this one. However, it does end with a ‘to be continued…’
For more information on the charities selected by the cast, head to StarWars.com.
→ If you really love hyperbole, Entertainment Weekly wants you to start thinking about The Force Awakens’ Oscar chances. Uhh, okay guys.
→ Yet another featurette, this time on BB-8, is coming to the Disney Channel on Sunday. Looking a bit further ahead, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will be among the guests on Graham Norton’s Christmas show.
In today’s Empire tidbit, Mark Hamill doesn’t give us any hints to the film itself (Because Mark Hamill can keep a damn secret,) but he does share an interest parallel:
“It reminded me of when I was in Tunisia on the salt flats [shooting the first Star Wars]. If you could get into your own mind and shut out the crew and look at the horizon, you really felt like you were in a galaxy far, far away. I had that same wave of emotion happen to me when I was on Skellig Michael in Ireland. I wasn’t anticipating it.”
There’s a fairly epic gallery of props from The Force Awakens at Wired today. Lots of good stuff for weapons and helmet geeks. And yes, some of them do have very complicated names.
→ Mark Hamill on keeping secrets. (No, he’s not in mo-cap for Star Wars.)
→ The Force Awakens has already pulled in more than $50M in advance ticket sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.
→ Empire has a new Kylo Ren photo (not that different from several of the old Kylo Ren photos) and Adam Driver’s compares the character to a religious fanatic. (It’s Adam Driver’s birthday, by the way. He is 32.)
→ Check out a custom stormtrooper Fiat 500e, on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
→ The Hollywood Reporter on The Force Awakens’ Oscar chances. It’s not that kind of movie, kids, but knock yourselves out, I guess.