Star Wars: The Last Jedi immediately follows the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey looking to Luke Skywalker to train her in the ways of the Force, while the Resistance is in shambles as the First Order begins to make major power moves. However, there is still a lot we don’t know about the film. Luckily director Rian Johnson, along with stars Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis were at a recent press conference to talk as much about the film as they could without spoiling anything.
Geeks of Doom sat down with fellow journalists to talk to the cast and crew of the film, and discovered a few interesting things about the relationship between Kylo Ren and General Hux, moving on without Han Solo, and how the theme of “never meeting your hero” plays a role in the film. Check it out below.
9 – Snoke Pits Kylo Ren Against General Hux
The Force Awakens introduced us to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and let’s just say that our first meeting with these two high-ranking officers from the First Order was anything but warm. Already, the two were questioning each other’s decisions after the then FN-2187 now known as Finn (John Boyega) defected and helped release Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) from his imprisonment. From there it appeared that Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) was manipulating the two to be at each other’s throats.
“I think there is a competition, and maybe it has yet to be discovered in this film. If anything I think that is more of a testament to what everyone has been saying about Rian’s inability to not mine the character in every moment, which seems like an obvious thing. He knows that spectacle won’t mean anything if you don’t care about what’s going on. It seems very obvious, but it is a hard thing to balance with this many moving parts and a scale of something like this. So I loved playing those things, especially with Domhnall, because he’s a great actor and nothing is taken for granted. If anything Rian slows the pace, and nothing is taken for granted. It is always broken up into little pieces. The story, in our minds, comes first, then the explosion.”
While Gleeson was hesitant to admit if there was a real-life corollary effect in this film, the actor did say there were workplace similarities to their relationship:
“I think it’s funny that there is a huge amount of drama going around in that group of people, but there is also such a huge amount of bitchy infighting going on as well. It’s really fun to see them kind of hurt each other from the inside, and the outside as well. It’s such a privilege to be a part of this film as well.”
8 – Is Luke Really Training Rey?
Though trailers and TV spots for The Last Jedi may make it seem as though Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is training Rey (Daisy Ridley), a very observant eye would notice that the reclusive Jedi is really nowhere near the young protege. So it’s difficult to know if we can call Rey an apprentice because Luke is never around. That being said, Hamill was hesitant to say whether or not the Jedi is training Rey.
Here’s what he had to say:
“You’re assuming that I train Rey. Do I? I know I have to be really careful. People say ‘was it difficult to pick up and wield a lightsaber, again?’ and I go ‘ah, do I?’ I can promise you my part is twice as big in this one.”
7 – No Yub Nubs In The Last Jedi
When asked about if we would see Ewoks in The Last Jedi, Johnson said, “It depends on what drugs you take before the film.”
6 – Paving The Way For A New Generation And A New Trilogy
For Ridley, Boyega, Isaac, and Driver, they had the luxury of working on the new trilogy with original trilogy actors Hamill, Fisher, and Ford. In a way the original actors were passing on the torch to a new generation of Jedi and Sith, now with The Last Jedi in full swing, the new cast talked the responsibility of taking on that role of leading the way for that new generation of actors and the kinds of pressures that come with that job.
“No, I don’t think so. The lesson I learned from the first one from Mark, Carrie, Harrison is not telling you what your experience is going to because we are all different and we see the world differently, kind of an obvious thing, but a similar thing to the question before. It’s hard to impose an idea on someone you don’t know. I think everyone’s relationship, within them, I would imagine is different. That’s kind of for them to discover. It’s almost more generous to give someone space to make it personal to them. I am not sure what that means. They weren’t ‘Let me tell you what it’s going to be like,’ cause no one really knows, and I think they would say even coming back to this movie after so many years, maybe Mark could speak better to this, even they have to figure out what it means to them. I think it’s kind of lead by example. Some people are avoiding that saying because it’s so cliche, but it’s more powerful when you see it in action. So none of us took it upon ourselves to tell people how it’s going to be for them because we are not them.”
“I don’t know if it affected our performances in any way, I think everyone was equally as terrified to figure out what we were doing.”
5 – The Stories Will No Longer Be Through The Eyes of the Droids
In the original trilogy, much of the story was told through the eyes of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Now with a new trilogy, we are not only seeing those same droids, but new ones as well. While it seems likely that the new trilogy would repeat that point of view through the lens of BB-8 and BB-9E, Johnson said The Last Jedi would be somewhat different in terms of the POV.
“It’s different. It was different in The Force Awakens and it’s different in this also. We don’t quite have so much the hidden fortress kind of worm’s eye view of the story that we started with in those movies. With this, different stories and different needs, and we are with our leads the whole time.”
“I think what is amazing about the film is that every character, I like don’t have a film knowledge or anything, so I never understood the structure of what Star Wars was or what anyone was trying to fulfill, but this is just me watching it, I think you really follow the story because you are with every character. Everything you need to see is happening on screen, you are not seeing things happen off screen or have happened off-screen, so people are asking questions on screen, they are getting answers on screen, they are having their adventures on screen, you’re with everyone every step of the way. I think it makes for compassionate viewing because you are really understanding both sides, why people are doing the things they are doing, how things collide, and the consequences of people’s actions and how they directly affect other people.”
4 – Never Meet Your Hero
One of The Last Jedi‘s main themes is how we should never meet our heroes, which is something that has been stressed in interviews and trailers, and now we get to see how much of that theme plays a part in the relationship between these characters: Luke and Rey, and Finn and Rose.
Johnson talked about implementing that theme into the film:
“I think these movies to some extent, are always about, I mean if you really boil it down, if you look back at Lucas kind of famously drawing from the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about, and the hero’s journey is not about becoming a hero, it’s not about becoming Hercules, it’s about adolescence, it’s about the transition from childhood into adulthood, and finding your place in the world. You have these new powers that you’re feeling inside yourself for the first time, you don’t know what to do with them, you don’t know who you are going to get help from, you don’t know who is going to be unreliable and who’s not. Navigating those very tricky waters that we all have to navigate, that’s why it’s so universal. Part of that is your relationship to heroes, and people you thought were your heroes, and people you don’t expect to become your heroes. It’s something that really plays out in this film.”
Hamill, who has had experience in becoming a hero going from farm boy to the X-wing pilot who destroyed the Death Star; who eventually became the Jedi Knight that brought down the Empire, shared his thoughts on the theme of the film:
“I don’t think any line in the script epitomized my reaction more than ‘This is not going to go the way you think.’ Rian pushed me out of my comfort zone, as if I weren’t intimidated and terrified to begin with, but I am grateful. You have to trust someone, and he was the only Obi-Wan available to me, not only in my choices as an actor but my choices in sock wear.”
3 – Finding That Balance Between The Fan And The Filmmaker
It’s hard to imagine anyone not reacting like a fan if they were given the chance to direct a Star Wars film. So imagine what it was like for director Rian Johnson to be given the opportunity to helm The Last Jedi. But the lines of being a professional and a fan can be a bit blurred, and worse if directing a Star Wars film hasn’t hit you yet.
Here’s what Johnson had to say:
“I keep waiting for that moment to happen. Even sitting down right here, I see the big Star Wars sign behind me, and I’m like ‘oh, do I belong here?’ There’s no eureka moment, where it’s like ‘No, I’m doing it,” you’re always that line between you’re feeling like you’re a fan who snuck into the back gate and you’re getting away with something, which I think, probably, is a good thing.”
“I’m still trying to get over it. I can’t lie. What we forget is that when we filmed The Force Awakens, we went off to do other stuff, and when you come back it feels like you’re back in school, you know?. It’s fun. Every day was a new set. The practical effects are I think doubled for this movie. The sets were bigger. It’s always exciting. It’s always amazing. Like everybody said, you still feel an intimacy when you are doing these scenes – an independent with a big budget.”
2 – Visual Nods To The Past
At this point of a trilogy, audiences are introduced to the idea that the second part of one is the darkest for the characters. While that may be true, Johnson said that The Last Jedi would only make certain visual cues to Empire Strikes Back.
My cinematographer Steve Yedlin, who I’ve been best friends with since I was 18 years old, we met in film school to standing on a Star Wars set seems pretty surreal. But I think Empire is the most beautiful, I mean I think all the films are beautiful, but I think for my taste, I think the cinematography in Empire is the most gorgeous of the whole series. So Steve and I looked at the lighting – it is also pretty daring how dark they were willing to go, literally dark, and how gorgeous they went with some of the choices with the shaping of the lighting.
In terms of visual aesthetic, I made a choice very early on that I well could either try and copy what my idea of what the original movies did, which was much more formal, the camera did not move a ton, it was much more of a visual aesthetic, or I realized we are going to take visual cues lighting-wise and design-wise from the previous movies, but I need to shoot this movie the way I would shoot a movie. At the end of the day, if I am not engaged with it, I’m not trying to tell the story the way that really makes me excited, then it’s not going to be up there on the screen. So I kind of cut myself from loose camera movement-wise and shot-wise and trying to imitate the past, and just try to tell the story as excitingly as I could up on the screen.
1 – No Time To Mourn
Because The Last Jedi takes place immediately after The Force Awakens, our characters don’t have that much time to mourn the loss of Han Solo, who was tragically killed by his own son, Ben Solo. Given how the First Order is making a huge power move when the Resistance is at their weakest, Boyega talked about how the group didn’t have that much time to take a moment.
Here’s what he told to the press:
“We’re just keeping it moving to be honest with you. It’s true. The pressure’s on, man. There’s no time. I think that’s one thing unique to me about watching this movie. It’s the commentary on war. I think there hasn’t been a Star Wars movie, yet, that has explored war in the way The Last Jedi does. It’s very messy. The categorizing of good and evil is all mixed together. In terms of Han, I’m sure we all feel sentimental if someone were to sit Finn down, sit Rey down. But Rey’s off training, she’s got stuff to do. I’ve got a back injury, I’ve got stuff to do. I can’t think about Han at the moment.”
Isaac comments mirrors Boyega’s:
“This is reverberating, but he’s right. It’s a dire situation. It’s critical to the Resistance is on its last legs. We’re trying to survive. The First Order is right on top of us. It is like war, you just gotta keep moving to try to survive. So I think you feel the momentum of everything that happens in The Force Awakens just pushing and getting to a critical mass in this film.”
Ridley offered a different answer to how the characters are reacting to the tragedy. Given that she is not actively participating in the war and is off training to be a Jedi, she is seeing things in a different way:
“I think it’s the beauty of having storylines that are happening in tandem and affecting each other because I would say that Rey is very much affected by it. Rey is a character who has been alone for a very long time. And she’s really open to love and friendship, so Finn and BB-8 come along and it’s like this amazing adventure. And then Han, without trying to, she seeks something from him because there’s an intimacy, and there’s a sort of figure or something she never dreamed of for her. So she’s understanding things in a different way. So lucky for me, because I was trying to get to grips with everything going on, and Rey is trying to get to grips with everything going on. Everything is moving forward, but she has some time to ask questions and wonder what it means it is that led someone to do something like that. And also how that directly affects the world around her. And she’s worried about being at home. So I’d say she’s a bit more affected, at least emotionally.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15, 2017.