J.J. Abrams: We had to do something “bold” with Kylo Ren

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Anthony Breznican at Entertainment Weekly has more from this weekend’s Writers Guild event with J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, with a journey into deep spoiler territory on Kylo Ren and his actions. At The Hollywood Reporter, Graeme McMillan takes a look at why the pivotal moment works.

Things are a bit safer over with the Los Angeles Times, where Adam Driver talks about what the mask says about Kylo and some hints on the Knights of Ren.

Today in The Force Awakens: Red carpet to be livestreamed, Abrams on the script and starting from scratch

Today on Twitter: @HamillHimself is such a troll. (USA Today asked the cast.)
Today on Twitter: @HamillHimself is such a troll. (USA Today asked the cast; Carrie’s is best.)
After a successful deployment at Celebration Anaheim earlier this year, StarWars.com will be livestreaming The Force Awakens red carpet at the film’s official world premiere in Los Angeles on December 14. Andi Gutierrez, Anthony Carboni, and David Collins will be hosting and interviewing the cast and other notables.

→ 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.

→ Harrison Ford sheds some light on “Chewie, we’re home,” at io9, and says The Force Awakens “correctly ambitious in every sense” in the LAT.

→ 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.

→ In an interview with IGN, Adam Driver says that Darth Vader’s “commitment” is inspiring to Kylo Ren. He’s in favor of Stephen Colbert’s explanation for the broadsaber.

→ 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.

Rumor: Episode VII characters to be based on the Expanded Universe

Skywalker/Solo family in the NJO

Episode 7 News is back with some clarification on their previous Mara Jade rumor. Their source now has a name – JediDigger – and they say his info comes from “discussions between people inside Lucasfilm and it’s licenses.”

The gist of his clarification is that they’re using the existing Expanded Universe characters as a template. The actual characters we get will be based on folks like Mara/Shira Brie, Jaina, Ben and such, but with different names – like the oh-so-convenient Korriban/Moriband confusion.

FRYSQUINT: SEQUEL TRILOGY RUMORS: Take seriously at your own risk.“This can not be made clearer, the post ROTJ EU launched in 91 is dead,” he says. “No story from Outbound Flight forward counts.” This all comes “the request of Disney, Kathleen Kennedy and Howard Roffman.”

But “the love of Luke Skywalker’s life” is a “character George Lucas has had since the end of Return of the Jedi,” which seems like it could conflict with the idea of basing her on Mara… Or does it? It’s not like we haven’t seen a similar character from Lucas before.

They’re also claiming that Michael Arndt has “moved on to Episode 8″ and that Abrams has met with Timothy Zahn. UPDATE: Zahn himself says this part isn’t true, which casts even more doubt on the rest.

So that’s a big rumor dump – but again, not a particularly trustworthy one: Taking the EU characters as templates is significantly less dramatic a change than I would expect. I continue to be skeptical.