Episode VIII begins production; Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran join cast

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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…

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Tonight in The Force Awakens: Red carpet shenanigans

mark-redcarpetI was only able to see about half the world premiere red carpet livestream, but I did catch the most magical part: Carrie Fisher interviewing Oscar Isaac. Or attempting to interview. Whatever it was, it was wonderful, and you can watch it on Youtube.

I wasn’t able to collect tweets, but here are some from The Hollywood Reporter, Jedi News and @bahnree. There are also pictures at Variety and The Wrap. (The best. Or maybe…)

UPDATE: Kathleen Kennedy’s speech inside the theater and some of the first reactions.

→ Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams talked to /Film on how they collaborated with Episode VIII writer/director Rian Johnson, and how IX director Colin Trevorrow will likely work in.

Wired takes a look at Sphero, and how exactly BB-8 was a boon for them.

→ Some great The Force Awakens fashions by designer Catherine Elhoffer. You may have seen them on the red carpet tonight!

→ Andy Serkis ‘confirms’ evil Jar Jar on Conan.

→ Korean boy band EXO has an (authorized) song called ‘Lightsaber’. We truly live in an age of wonders.

The Force Awakens: How tall is a Snoke?

snokeAndy Serkis talks to Empire about filming his scenes as Supreme Leader Snoke… Who is supreme in any number of ways. Namely, he is tall.

“It was quite an unusual situation,” Serkis tells us in the new issue of Empire. “I worked specifically with Domhnall Gleeson and with Adam Driver. My first day was basically standing on a 25-foot podium doing Lord Snoke without the faintest idea what he looked like… or in fact who he was! I was very high up, totally on my own, away from everybody else, but acting with them.”

Echoing his comments to Entertainment Weekly, Serkis also calls the character “severely damaged.”