What Rian Johnson asked J.J. Abrams to change about the ending of The Force Awakens

Rian Johnson had (at least) one request for J.J. Abrams about The Force Awakens‘ ending – to have Artoo go with Rey instead of BB-8, so the classic droid could be reunited with Luke Skywalker. Luke, naturally, is central to The Last Jedi:

“Figuring out where his head was at was the very first thing I had to do when writing the movie. I had to crack this. And it had to be something for me that first and foremost made sense. Why did Luke Skywalker go off to this island?” Johnson says. “That was the starting point, and that’s what the entire movie explores.”

So Luke’s self-exile – and his reasoning – is a key factor in the film.

Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 for decades, has died

kenny-baker

Kenny Baker, the actor who played Artoo, has died at the age of 81. The 3 foot, 8 inch actor was the man inside the droid for the original and prequel trilogies. He also played Paploo the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and appeared in Time Bandits and Flash Gordon

Baker has been ill for some time. “It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life,” his niece, Abigail Shield, told the Guardian. “He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”

Peter Mayhew posted “a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart” on Chewbacca.com on Monday.

“Goodbye #KennyBaker,” Mark Hamill tweeted. “A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination. He WAS the droid I was looking for!” Fellow actors Ewan McGregor and Warwick Davis also posted remembrances on Twitter.

George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy spoke about Baker on StarWars.com. Lucas calls him “a real gentleman” and “an incredible trooper,” while Kennedy says “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”

Under the cut, tweets remembering Baker. Continue reading “Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 for decades, has died”

May the 4th roundup: Blasters, severed hands and more

@chrizmillr: Can't wait to get "shooting"! #MayThe4thBeWithYou
@chrizmillr: Can’t wait to get “shooting”! #MayThe4thBeWithYou
Chris Miller, one of the directors of the upcoming Han Solo standalone, celebrated May the 4th by sharing a shot of Han’s iconic blaster. It’s not casting news, but we’ll take it. Episode VIII director Rian Johnson – who is currently shooting – opted for dry humor.

→ Remember the old Episode VII rumor about Luke’s hand floating through space? Well, in yesterday’s Sun interview, Mark Hamill confirmed that it was indeed in the script at one point. On that note, Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff takes a look back at The Force Awakens and the challenges of making a remake/revival fun. Meanwhile, io9 is looking for VIII clues in yesterday’s Daisy Ridley video.

→ Chuck Wendig shares the first line of Aftermath: Life Debt. ComicBook.com has the first look at The Force Awakens comic adaptation. It’s scripted by Wendig, but the preview features only Luke Ross’s interior art.

John Jackson Miller talks about writing Star Wars with Omni.

→ Room’s Jacob Tremblay is fishing… He did get a response from one future Star Wars director, so that’s promising.

→ R2-D2 and C-3PO hung out in Entertainment Weekly’s elevator.

→ The Revenge of the Sith soundtrack is getting a limited release on vinyl.

→ StarWars.com has a look at upcoming The Force Awakens Funko Pop figures, including General Leia and Luke Skywalker.

→ And finally, my favorite new product: Star Wars Tiki cups.