What we learned about The Rise of Skywalker from Vanity Fair

Per usual, the Vanity Fair story on the upcoming Star Wars film – The Rise of Skywalker, the final episode of “the Skywalker saga,” the grand finale of all three trilogies, etc. – was chock full of information. Granted, most of it’s peicemeal, but that’s where we tiny fan blogs live, isn’t it? Let’s dig in.

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Anthony Daniels wraps on Episode IX (and other updates)

→ Anthony Daniels (and thus, Threepio) has wrapped filming on Episode IX. “…We’re so proud to have worked with such a lovely, talented cast & crew lead by J.J. & Kathy,” he tweeted this afternoon. “I’ll miss everyone but I’m glad to know that we’ve been making something exceptional together, to share with the waiting world.

→ We haven’t heard from many other cast members since John Boyega’s big hint, but we do know that Adam Driver was filming when the Oscar nominations were announced, per Spike Lee. (Here’s Driver himself on his nom.) He’s at Sundance now for The Report, where he’s perfecting his Star Wars dodges.

→ The other supporting nominee who happens to be in Star Wars, Richard E. Grant, has his own reaction in the NYT. He actually talks about IX – and his nomination – with Radio Times.

→ No matter how much wishful thinking is knocking around the internet, there won’t be anything from Episode IX at the Super Bowl. Like Solo last year, Disney’s likely contenders for a big game spot are all spring/summer releases. More at Deadline.

→ That said, I still expect that our next major drop will be the title.

→ And finally…

Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams on Episode IX filming in Jordan

Although there have been numerous reports – and even social media posts from the likes of John Boyega (mostly via Instagram stories) and Oscar Isaac’s wife Elvira Lind – we finally have some comments from higher up the food chain. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams both talked to Roya News about Jordan’s Wadi Rum:

“Wadi Rum is breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect location for our film,” says Abrams. “I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot in Jordan. Between the warm welcome from the government and the dedication and hard work of the local film professionals, we couldn’t have had a better experience. We are enormously grateful.”

Producer Kathleen Kennedy said “I also want to thank the Royal Film Commission Jordan, and the Army, whose tremendous support has been invaluable, and helped make this shoot possible.”

Other than Boyega and Isaac (and maybe Anthony Daniels,) the cast has been mainly mum on who exactly is out in Jordan. There are fuzzy photos that may indicate at least one other cast member joined them, but they’re hardly conclusive.

There’s plenty of speculation on what Jordan means for the story – understandably, a return to Jakku is a common theory – but it’s interesting that Daniels’ tweet implies it may be standing in for more than one. Curious.

Hayden Christensen returning to Celebration for Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary

Hayden Christensen will be returning to Celebration for the first time since 2002 as part of the 40th Anniversary panel, joining Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Dave Filoni and Kathleen Kennedy. “Many galactic-sized surprises” are still being promised, but this is a fairly big one. (And yes, he’s signing.)

In other Celebration news, there’s now more previews up for the Store, mostly t-shirts.

Episode VIII set shenanigans (with Instagram and Twitter)

A tweet roundup is due, but as things wind down, there’s just been so much out there on Instagram and tweet from the Episode VIII cast and crew that they’re breaking out on their own.

Daisy Ridley shared an already infamous face swap with director Rian Johnson, as well as teasing a new hairstyle. (Join me in hoping it’s not a padawan braid, please.) Johnson himself is sharing (recognizable, mostly) images of the Millennium Falcon. Also spotted: One Pablo Hidalgo, who punned.

Finishing up – or at least admitting to it – are John Boyega and Anthony Daniels.

Perhaps we were too quick to assume that Mark Hamill had lost the beard, though he does seem to be pulling double duty. (UPDATE: He’s now wrapped as well.)

And finally, your moment of zen: Gary Fisher with “his two favorite stalkers.” A weird thing happens when you start to see enough of those emoji: They start making sense. Maybe one day I’ll wake up being able to read Aurebesh after all.

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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Rian Johnson, cast hint that Episode VIII filming is nigh

We know Episode VIII filming is due to begin soon, and there’s plenty of evidence from Rian Johnson on Tumblr, an Instagram from Daisy Ridley, a Snapchat from John Boyega, and tweets from Anthony Daniels and Carrie Fisher.

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Today in The Force Awakens: Isaac on the Resistance, Captain Phasma was originally a man

tfa-poe-bigOscar Isaac talks to io9 about the Resistance, Poe’s Shattered Empire backstory (though it’s worth noting he was already old enough to be talking – he’s mentioned in #2 – before his parents settled on Yavin) and how the X-wings have evolved.

→ You can listen to both yesterday’s press conference(s) thanks to Full of Sith. Or watch the videos (1, 2.)

→ Captain Phasma was originally a man, Vulture reports, and the backlash to the initial casting may have played a part in the gender swap. That said, anything that saved us from Benedict Cumberbatch is fine by me.

→ Clutch your pearls, because J.J. Abrams talked midi-chlorians with /Film.

→ Droid tales: Anthony Daniels get profiled by Vulture, while CNN talks to the BB-8 designers about the droid and his adventures on set.

→ On Twitter, Greg Grunberg confirms his action figure and his character name.

→ Everyone wants their trailer on Star Wars! We know X-Men: Apocalypse will be there, but now The Hollywood Reporter says Star Trek Beyond will be attached as well.