Everything we learned about ‘The Last Jedi’ from the Star Wars Celebration panel and trailer – Los Angeles Times
The force was with Orlando, Fla., this morning as the four-day convention named Star Wars Celebration unveiled the first-ever teaser trailer for “The Last Jedi,” the next episodic “Star Wars” film.
Thanks to a lengthy panel with the cast and crew, plus new footage, fans now have an idea about what happens next to the heroes from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Surprise host Josh Gad started the whole thing off with a joke: “I am here because Daisy Ridley forced my hand,” referencing the tense (but hilarious) “Star Wars” interrogations he sprung on his costar.
Ridley (who plays “Star Wars” hero Rey) joined Gad onstage, along with director Rian Johnson, President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, John Boyega (Finn), newcomer Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), and one member of the original crew, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). The host attempted to pry a few more details from the meeting of the new Resistance.
At the end of the panel, Lucasfilm and Disney released the first teaser trailer for “The Last Jedi,” which premieres Dec. 15. We’ve combed through the trailer and clues from the panel to give you the best bits below:
The little droid that rolled into everyone’s hearts in “The Force Awakens” will return for the follow-up film, bringing a whole host of new gadgets and gizmos along as well. When asked if the audience could expect new gags from the scene-stealing droid, Johnson guaranteed plenty of BB-8.
“The best advice I got was from J.J. [Abrams’] editors, who told me, ‘You can’t have enough BB-8.’ We followed their advice. He’s the Buster Keaton of this movie.”
Rey and Luke
A very tight-lipped Ridley said little about Rey’s journey.
“In ‘Last Jedi’ we go deeper into Rey’s story. And what is very apparent from where we left off in ‘The Force Awakens’ and where we begin with ‘The Last Jedi’ is Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail,” she said. “And as a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect.”
It sounds like the Luke we left in “Return of the Jedi” is quite different from the Luke fans will meet in “Last Jedi.” Fingers crossed for training montages! If you look very closely in the new teaser, you can see the raising of pebbles around Rey’s hands, mimicking the rock training Luke underwent on Dagobah. And if you really, really listen, you can hear the voices of Luke’s past masters, Yoda and Obi-Wan, in the teaser as well.
Stormtrooper defect Finn ended “Force Awakens” unconscious and possibly seriously injured. So how’s the recovery going while in the hands of the Resistance?
“It’s been painful, it’s been a process,” Boyega said. “Finn definitely stood up for himself at the end of ‘Force Awakens’ and caught a bit of an injury to the back. He’s in recovery, but he’s back in ‘The Last Jedi’ and he’s not playing this time.”
Sure enough, one of the shots from the teaser showed an eyes-closed Finn recovering in a new type of pod (not the traditional bacta tanks we’ve seen previously). Thanks to the Aurebesh across the glass (and online translations — hat tip to Donna Dickens), we know that his condition here is “stable.”
Boyega pressed that even beyond his character’s physical restoration, there are many more challenges in Finn’s future. “[Last Jedi] is a test for all the characters,” he said. “But specifically for Finn, he wants to find his place now. Is he going to be a part of the resistance or is he gonna keep running away from the First Order? We’ll see.”
And as for the budding friendship between Poe and Finn? Despite actor Oscar Isaac’s absence, Boyega promised that the two have plenty more adventures ahead of them.
The status of the First Order
In “Force Awakens” the nefarious Empire was renamed and rebranded the First Order, but their goals of galaxy-wide domination remained mostly the same.
Despite a long history of constructing Death Stars only to have them blown up by the Rebellion, the First Order continued the pattern with the Starkiller Base, which was unsurprisingly blown to bits in the final act. So how did this loss affect space’s ultimate big bad?
“The Starkiller base [was a] big loss,” Johnson said. “But they did manage to take out the seat of the Republic, and that’s thrown the galaxy into chaos. The First Order are jumping on that in the beginning of our movie. Very aggressively, not sitting on their hands. Big moves at the start of their film. Things are going to get dire.”
It should be very interesting to see what “dire” looks like in a world that has exterminated entire planets. If Johnson’s past work is any indication, we may be in for a surprise. This is the director who used the time-travel element in “Looper” to dissect a character into pieces.
Meet Rose, a new character
The panel also introduced a brand-new character to the “Star Wars” ethos. Rose is played by Kelly Marie Tran. Very little was said about her addition, but when Tran took the stage, an image of her character was flashed on-screen revealing that Rose is a humanoid character. More important, she won’t be covered in alien makeup or reworked entirely via performance capture.
As for her character’s significance, Johnson brought her in to take “Star Wars” back to the everyday-hero trope he responded to as a child.
“Rose is a maintenance worker in the Resistance,” Johnson explained. “The notion that anyone out there, any one of us, can step up and turn into a hero — that’s really where the character of Rose comes from. She’s not a soldier, she’s not looking to be a hero and she gets pulled in into an adventure in this movie with Finn. And Kelly just embodies that for me.”
Saying farewell to General Leia
Kennedy called Carrie Fisher’s final performance as General Leia as General Leia (Fisher died in December) an “amazing tribute to her talent.” The Lucasfilm president also confirmed on “Good Morning America” that Fisher won’t appear in “Episode IX.”
Johnson, who also wrote the script to “Last Jedi,” said he connected with Fisher first and foremost as a writer.
“I would go to her house. We’d sit on her bed for hours and go through the script,” Johnson said. “We’d have these stream-of-consciousness, jazz poetry, ad-lib sessions. And I would scribble on my script everything she said. At the end of six hours, there would be a four-word line of dialogue that was the distillation of all of that.”