Today in The Force Awakens: It’s all about the ladies, and George Lucas has seen the film

lat-womenToday’s must-read was an article from Meredith Woerner at the Los Angeles Times about the women of The Force Awakens. In addition to the characters (it’s revealed that Captain Phasma will be returning for VIII,) Kathleen Kennedy also talks about the importance of having women behind the scenes, and how that helped the movie.

→ On that note, agent Adriana Alberghetti told the LAT that she’s gotten meetings for four female directors and three female writers for Star Wars films. She doesn’t name names, but Newsarama notes that her clients include Orange Is The New Black director S.J. Clarkson and Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer Marti Noxon.

→ George Lucas has seen The Force Awakens and, Kathleen Kennedy tells The Hollywood Reporter, “he really liked it.”

Carrie Fisher was on Good Morning America this morning, and not only was she amazing, but she was full of praise for the film.

More The Force Awakens ornaments are coming to Hallmark… Next year. Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma are available now.

The Force Awakens roundup: Speculating on the Rey-Kylo connection

kylo-finn-reyI don’t generally link to speculation, but ComicBook’s Lucas Siegel has an interesting theory on Rey and Kylo Ren. I buy them as siblings, but I don’t like the theory that the two are actual twins. Just look at the actors – the age difference between Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver is far too obvious. But Siegel’s theory is more about the idea of their roles mirroring each other. (Look at the costuming if nothing else.) Even if he does bring up The Clone Wars’ bizarro Mortis arc.

Empire is out in the U.K. (I’m not sure about the U.S., given that I’m avoiding retailers like the plague at the moment) and there are a few new bits bits of information that didn’t (shocker) make Empire’s own perfunctory online coverage, including that Snoke was “was critical in the seduction of [Kylo?] Ren to the dark side.” Fair warning that this is via Star Wars News Net, aka the former Star Wars 7 News, but it’s almost all quotes with little interpretation. (Avoid the comments, though.)

→ A new Disney Channel featurette that focuses on Rey, as well as giving us a few glimpses of new scenes.

→ Afraid of spoilers? There’s a Chrome extension that can help you. Good luck with that. (Here’s the closest thing I have to a spoiler policy.)

Boyega and Ridley on diversity, the Millennium Falcon, and lightsabers in The Force Awakens

Daisy and John

I’m not sure if we’re coming up on the last of the Entertainment Weekly stuff or not (my issue did not arrive in a timely fashion, as per usual, and the app is awful) but this afternoon brought interviews with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. Addressed is some of the backlash:

“We see through the eyes of children that they’re not talking about race the way we grown folks are. They’re not talking about color or how much melanin is in someone’s skin. That should teach us something,” Boyega says.

The bigots trying to sully things? He has no time for them. “We’ve been having a continuous struggle with idiots, and now we should just force them to understand – and I love the way I just used Force there, by the way – just force people to see this is the new world,” he says. “There are loads of people of different shades and backgrounds. Get used to it.”

Ridley talks about Harrison Ford and the Millennium Falcon:

She even got some sage starship-flying advice from Harrison Ford. “I was doing random switch-flipping and Harrison kind of put his hand out and said, no, everything had to have a purpose. Like, you flip a switch and then you see what it does, before you do anything else,” she says. “I was probably flipping switches too quickly!”

There was one other awkward moment. “Um, probably when I sat in his pilot seat,” Ridley says. “There’s a shot where I pilot the Falcon by myself. And then [on another day] Harrison and I went to film together. I went to get into the pilot seat and he was like, ‘That’s mine,’ and I was genuinely mortified. And J.J. was sitting there like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God.’ And, you know, I moved into the co-pilot seat.”

And Boyega on lightsabers:

“It started in rehearsals. We had [Kylo Ren actor] Adam Driver. That was the first time ever I had a stick in my hand that I could pretend was a lightsaber, which was the first stage of excitement,” he says. “I had to do all the sound effects and stuff by myself.”

In front of the cameras, he was given a much more elaborate prop. “That’s when I got the real saber, which is blue, it’s lighted, and just looks really epic,” Boyega says. “It felt monumental in my hand. I knew not to play like I used to when I was a kid, but to actually use it in serious combat for a scene. It’s absolutely crazy to have in your hand. It’s a bit heavy but it’s worth it. “

I believe that’s confirmation of something Making Star Wars posted last month, about how custom versions of Force FX lightsabers were used on set to help with lighting and other effects.

How long has Rey been on Jakku, anyway? More The Force Awakens photos, details

There’s a huge gallery of new The Force Awakens images at Entertainment Weekly, and although you’ll recognize many of the shots, we do learn a few things. For instance, how long Rey has been on Jakku…

Rey was ditched on Jakku by her family when she was a child and has no idea why — or why they never returned. “She’s been alone for a long time,” Ridley says. “When something occurs when you’re 5, you know what went on but you don’t understand the reasoning. She’s hopeful for what lies ahead, whether that involves the past or not.” So why hasn’t abandonment made her bitter, angry, and… prone to the Dark Side? “Hope makes people good, a lot of the time,” Ridley says. “You hope for a brighter future, and resentment is outweighed.”

Plus Finn with Poe as prisoner of The First Order. (And Rey’s staff is just a staff, but we knew that already.) Check ’em out!

Roundup: Did Gina Rodriguez get cast in Episode VIII? Does Finn have a last name after all?

jane-the-virgin-gina-rodriguez

There’s a rumor that Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) got one of those (rumored) Episode VIII roles, but it’s based on Rian Johnson and John Boyega following her on Twitter, which, okay. To be fair, plenty of us read a random Rian Johnson tweet as a hint towards Gugu Mbatha-Raw, so maybe there’s something to it after all. Verdict: Maybe!

There’s another rumor going around regarding Finn’s last name. I won’t even link anyone who’s running it because it’s based on an unofficial description from a third-party Amazon listing, and shockingly, that is nowhere near a sound source. Verdict: Ha ha, no.

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are adorable for ASOS; On Entertainment Tonight, Boyega geeks out of John Williams and getting to hear his own theme.

→ Also: An interview with Kathleen Kennedy, and a short Millennium Falcon-centric write-up of an article that appears in the members-only Disney 23 magazine. And hey, Domhnall Gleeson!