Star Wars is entering a new age within its own legacy. These new films have become much more diverse in characters and in tone since being acquired by Disney. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi just a few weeks away from release, director Rian Johnson was tasked with continuing J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens story. While it may sound like he was confined to a certain narrative, Johnson never forgot that this ultimately was a Star Wars movie.
Geeks of Doom had a chance to sit down with their fellow journalists to talk to the director and cast about the upcoming film, how it may differ from The Force Awakens and other sequels in general, and how making it has impacted their lives. Check out that they had to say below, along with some images from the press junket.
Being the second part of a trilogy, Johnson knew that these films generally go in a darker direction. But he loved the tone that was established in the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens, and that tone was fun and alluding to that childhood feeling some got when exiting a showing of a Star Wars film. “To me, it’s a Star Wars movie,” Johnson said. “First and foremost, we were trying to make it feel like a Star Wars movie. That means you have the intensity and the opera. But it also means you come out of the theater wanting to run in your backyard, grab your spaceship toy, and make them fly around.”
While it may be a sequel, directed by Johnson no less, it does steer the vision for the saga in a slightly different direction. The stakes are a lot higher, and some of our characters are now on a different path. But ultimately, fans and audiences will see how these characters will grow and develop. “I think the story is moving forward,” John Boyega, who plays Finn, said. The actor added “It’s about challenging the characters. And they are under intense pressure. It’s all different. There’s a lot going on. I’ve only watched it once, and the first thing I want to do is watch it again.”
Oscar Isaac, who plays X-Wing ace pilot Poe Dameron, credited Johnson for his ability to continue Abrams’ story but also challenging these characters and getting to the central points. “Because the first one kind of sets the tone, the world, and the new characters. In the second one you don’t have to spend as much time doing that, you can just delve into the story, like John said, the conflict of each character,” Isaac chimed. “He’s challenged each and every character. Including the droids. It’s the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced, and that’s how you’re able to learn about them, on all sides of the spectrum, from light to dark.”
But these new challenges did make a few people worry about where their characters were going. Particularly Daisy Ridley, who returns to play Rey. She is now separated from Finn while she trains on the island of Ahch-To, and Finn recovers from his injuries. “Because the people responded well to John and I as a team, I was a bit nervous about not being a team in this one,” Ridley said. “So I think for me personally it was a challenge.”
As for the actors who played the characters in the First Order, they pretty much felt the same way. Andy Serkis, who plays Supreme Leader Snoke, said he never expected the sequel to be so emotional. “What Rian has done incredibly is make this dance, tonally, this dance between these great epic moments and hilarious antics,” Serkis said. “Literally flipping on a dime, and then going right into the heart of these beautiful characters. That was my take away. It was an extraordinary viewing.”
Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma, believes the reason why Star Wars films have resonated for as long as they have is that they are our foundation story of good against evil and where that balance is and how we see elements of characters we’ve never seen before and things that can be unexpected. “There is something about this film, and I think it’s because the world we live in is a changing and evolving place, it retains the simplicity of those elements,” Christie said. “It really resonates with what it is to follow your own dark narcissistic tendencies of where that will take you, and I love that. It’s done so beautifully aesthetically too.”
While the film is a continuation of the saga that we currently know, there are some differences that make The Last Jedi standalone. However, there are still some similarities. Here’s what Ridley said:
“As an actor, I would much more easily draw a comparison of similarity. I am sort of just speaking for me, that I was really new to this all, this first film and all of that stuff. I’ve done smaller films now this year, and genuinely it feels the same, the sets tend to be smaller and shot in Prague instead of London, but like genuinely it’s a small, not a small feeling, but it’s that family that. So going into something could have been really scary, and being surrounded by people you feel comfortable with for me is the only thing you can ask for. Because you can only do what you can do. If you are in a safe environment, then you can do more. Coming back, it was different obviously in ways because the story is different, the characters are being challenged in different ways, the crew was similar, and how our set is run is so incredibly important. It’s just a really happy set, and everyone feels I think heard and respected. In an acting sense, taking everything away, I think the same feeling was captured of love and everyone trying to work together to make this thing that hopefully other people will love. To me, in an emotional way, it did feel more similar than different.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15, 2017. Click right here for more, including trailers and more from the film’s press junket.