What we know now about 'Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’
Actors reveal secrets from the set of "The Last Jedi" (Yoda returns! A double lightsaber! A Tom Hardy cameo!), and we investigate the latest rumors and developments.
When last we left the "Episode VIII" rumor mill, the plans stolen by rebel spies included casting rumors, a return to Luke Skywalker's hideaway, and aerial drone production guards. Only a few weeks later, we've collated a fresh stack of speculation, confirmation, and hopes and dreams for this next great piece of the Star Wars saga. Have a look below and get ready to geek out. December 2017 can't come soon enough.
The first teaser trailer welcomes back Luke Skywalker
As it turns out, fans clamoring for Luke Skywalker's first spoken words in the "Star Wars" franchise in more than 30 years didn't have to wait until December. The first teaser trailer was unveiled at the end of a panel for "The Last Jedi" during the 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. It features the gravely voice of Skywalker apparently teaching Rey in the ways of the Force. There's clearly some kind of mindful meditation going on here, as Rey suddenly begins to see both images "light and dark" flash through her mind.
As for the rest of the trailer, it's filled with a healthy amount of enigmatic imagery and action-packed cutscenes we've come to expect from the franchise. There are land and space battles, a brief shot of the back of the late Carrie Fisher as General Organa staring out over a star chart, Kylo Ren looking all Emo with his lightsaber, and whispers of dialogue from previous films cut underneath. It ends with a weary Luke Skywalker proclaiming, "I only know one truth. It's time for the Jedi to end."
We're excited. We have so many questions. But most importantly, we're thrilled to be able to say: "Welcome back, Luke."
The full trailer raises the stakes
Near the end of the full trailer for "The Last Jedi," a weary and rain-soaked Luke exclaims "This is not going to go... the way you think!" That declaration suits this new look at the film nicely, with a conflicting range of emotions, fight scenes, and heavy angst and foreboding wrapped around its two minutes and 30 seconds. Highlights include our first clear look at the villain Snoke, an adorable Porg in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, and Rey potentially turning to Kylo Ren for guidance. Be sure to also keep your eyes peeled for the new crystal fox creatures, the charred remains of a Jedi "Force Tree," and Captain Phasma finally getting a chance to shine in battle.
The World Series teaser reunites Luke with the Falcon
Despite lasting only 45 seconds, the latest teaser for "The Last Jedi" manages to work its magic and pull at our heartstrings. Airing during game 7 of the World Series, the spot features a bunch of new clips of Rey, Leia, and Kylo filled with angst. Perhaps the best scene for fans of the original trilogy is the moment that Luke walks back into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Hamill admitted that he was nervous about bringing his character back to the big screen.
"I was just really scared," he said. "I thought, why mess with it? The idea of catching lightning in a bottle twice was ridiculously remote."
For director Rian Johnson, however, giving Hamill the chance to present a more wizened Luke adds a richness to the character otherwise impossible to fake. “In the same way that as a young man, he embodied the characteristics we all connected with — the youthfulness and innocence — he now embodies a person full of soul and experience,” he shared.
The international posters paint a conflicted Luke Skywalker
Disney's release of the latest international posters for "The Last Jedi" has turned the internet chatter on Luke Skywalker's fate up to deafening levels. The beautiful artwork, released as a pair of contrasting light and grey illustrations, shows Luke with Team Rey on one side and a darker, hooded version of the Jedi Knight on Team Ren on the other. Besides the trailers, it's the clearest sign yet that this chapter will find Skywalker battling some very real internal demons.
But will Luke embrace a darker path as many have speculated? American actor Mark Hamill, who plays the wizened Skywalker, has revealed that his character's fate will not be the same as his father, Darth Vader.
"In ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices,” Hamill said in an interview with Disney Rewards. "It haunts him to the core. But he hasn’t gone to the dark side. This isn’t an evil version of him. But it’s still an incarnation of the character I never expected. It has pulled me out of my comfort zone. It’s a real challenge."
Prince William and Harry will cameo
Prince Harry (left) and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, try out lightsabers during a tour of the Star Wars sets at Pinewood studios on April 19, 2016 in Iver Heath, England. (Photo: Adrian Dennis / Getty Images)
As suspected after their much-publicized visit to the set of "The Last Jedi" last April at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, England, Princes Harry and William will have cameos in the film. The brothers will join fellow guest actor Tom Hardy (who will next appear in Israeli producer Avi Arad's "Venom") and UK singer Gary Barlow as First Order Stormtroopers in a scene with Finn, played by John Boyega.
"It was a great experience," Boyega told THR.
Princes William and Harry, Hardy, and Barlow are now members of an exclusive club of celebrities who have appeared in the new "Star Wars" trilogy in disguise. The first film, "The Force Awakens," featured "James Bond" star Daniel Craig as a Stormtrooper, comedian and "Star Trek" star Simon Pegg as an alien, and former-"SNL" comedian Bill Hader as the voice of BB-8.
Its official title is "The Last Jedi"
After months of speculation and rumors, the eighth installment in the Star Wars franchise has officially been revealed as "The Last Jedi."
Reaction to this rather ominous title in social media circles has been extremely positive, with many pointing out that it was hidden in plain site all along.
With this in mind, it's likely that Luke Skywalker, played by the talented Mark Hamill, could play a larger role in "The Last Jedi" than previously hinted.
NYC Comic-Con attendees were given an exclusive 'Last Jedi' experience
While nothing in the way of panels or footage was presented at the recent Comic-Con in New York City, Disney didn't leave fans completely empty-handed. In celebration of the film's approaching release, a First Order-themed set was created to show off props from the film. Once visitors drifted inside, however, things took an unexpected twist and transformed into another immersive "Star Wars" experience.
"The doors were bolted down and unsuspecting 'Star Wars' fans were called out as rebels," reports Collider. "What ensues is a pretty silly routine in which stormtroopers arrive, rebels try and escape, and Kylo Ren strangles a dude—all in front of these fans’ eyes."
As you can see in the video, there were smiles aplenty from those declared as "rebels;" especially when BB-8 appeared from behind a wall. Well played, Disney.
The behind-the-scenes featurette teases an "unexpected" story
Like they did with "The Force Awakens," Disney used this year's D23 event to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the filming for "The Last Jedi." Eagle-eyed viewers will catch glimpses of some new creatures, characters, set locations, and much more.
"Rian has written a story that's unexpected, but right," actress Daisy Ridley says in the video. "Some of the stuff that happens, people are going to be like 'Oh my God!' And even though everyone knows it's the second in the trilogy, it feels like it's own thing
Perhaps the best quote from the tease, however, belongs to the late Carrie Fisher, who emphasizes the emotional core of the film. “It’s about family,” she says, “and that’s what’s so powerful about it.”
A widely praised script
In keeping with the look of "The Force Awakens," American director Rian Johnson has shared that "Episode VIII" will sidestep digital and be shot entirely on film. Together with his longtime friend Ram Bergman, a prolific Israeli producer, the pair are reportedly crafting a story that's "much darker" than the previous episode.
American actor Greg Grunberg, who played pilot Snap Wexley in "The Force Awakens," says the script is so good that director JJ Abrams regrets not taking it on.
“He read it and said something he never, ever says," Grunberg told The Washington Post. "He said: ‘It’s so good, I wish I were making it.’ He may have said something one time on 'Lost,' with Damon [Lindelof, the co-creator], but I never hear him express regret like that."
Carrie Fisher's role will remain unchanged
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger put to rest speculation over how the production would address the passing of American actress Carrie Fisher.
"When we bought Lucasfilm, we were going to make three films – 'Episodes VII', 'VIII' and 'IX,' he said. "We had to deal with tragedy at the end of 2016. Carrie appears throughout 'VIII'. We are not changing 'VIII' to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it is in 'VIII'. In 'Rogue One' we had some digital character. We are not doing that with Carrie."
For those wondering where the future of the franchise will proceed after "Episode IX," Iger's words should come as great comfort to those fans worried there would be another hiatus between trilogies.
"We’re starting talk about what could happen after 'Episode IX,' he said. "About what could be another decade-and-a-half of Star Wars stories."
Teaser trailer rumors heat up
In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, rumors are suggesting that the first teaser trailer for "Last Jedi" will debut during April's Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida.
We already have a description of what footage the teaser might contain courtesy of a 4Chan message board user. So yes, take this all with a grain of salt.
Apparently, in a nod to the first teaser for "The Force Awakens," the trailer opens on Finn suddenly waking up in a medical bay. We then see scenes of a funeral (likely for Han Solo), a group of soldiers led by Captain Phasma, scenes of the Millennium Falcon fleeing from TIE Fighters, and much more. While Luke Skywalker isn't seen, the teaser reportedly concludes with him saying "Everything will die with us."
As a further thanks to fans in attendance at the Celebration, Disney will reportedly show a few Luke Skywalker-centric moments not seen in the public teaser.
"The main teaser does not include Luke Skywalker and has far less money shots," the source said. "The private teaser to be revealed to Celebration's attendees will get three great money shots of Luke Skywalker. One of which is him walking down the stone steps with Rey to some sort of tree."
Whether any of this is true will hopefully be confirmed over the next several weeks.
These are Luke's first words
At the conclusion of "The Force Awakens," Rey walks up to a bearded, somber-looking Luke Skywalker and extends her arm to hand him his old lightsaber. The camera then pans away and the audience is left wondering what Luke's response to this action is. Well, now we know.
At Disney's annual meeting for shareholders, the company surprised everyone by releasing an exclusive first look at some scenes from "The Last Jedi." One of those snippets included the first dialogue spoken by Skywalker to Rey.
“We make a point of revealing very little from our upcoming Star Wars films,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told the audience. “We want to keep them secret. But we’re making an exception today. We’re going to show you an exclusive first look at what happens right after that scene, and that lightsaber being handed to its rightful owner.”
According to those in attendance, Luke's first words to Rey are: "Who are you?" She then apparently responds by "skillfully" handing the lightsaber to him. With Luke seemingly in the dark about Rey's identity, this should put to rest rumors that he has known who she is all along. Regardless, it should be interesting to see where the conversation goes from there.
While we heard Yoda's voice in "The Force Awakens," rumor has it that we might actually get to see the return of the real-life Yoda in "Episode VIII." A Yoda puppeteer was recently spotted giving an interview at the Star Wars Celebration in Europe. "He looked at both of us, and said that members of the original Yoda team have been called in to work on episode 8, using the Yoda 8 puppet,” one Reddit user posted. “He’d have no reason to lie.”
So the wise Jedi – who bears a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein – may appear in this movie, even though he's already died. Perhaps it'll be through a reincarnation, a flashback scene or maybe the revelation that Yoda has a twin brother.
An Ewok will also return
British actor Warwick Davis rose to fame in the 1980s playing an Ewok in "Return of the Jedi." He parlayed that starring turn to roles in the iconic film "Willow" as well as playing two different characters in the "Harry Potter" films. The 3-foot 6-inch actor recently told an Australian newspaper that he will be returning to the Star Wars franchise for "Episode VIII." "I’m sure it’s going to deliver some quite impactful story moments, and it’ll leave us with some cliffhangers as well which resolve in Episode IX," he said.
Rey and Luke's relationship takes center stage
Writer-director Johnson recently revealed a major plot point of the upcoming film. It will pick off right where "The Force Awakens" ends, with Rey meeting Luke on a deserted island. “I don’t want to skip ahead two years. I want to see the very next moment of what happens," he told USA Today. He said the two's relationship will be a large part of the movie. “She’s taking her first step to coming to terms with this thing inside her that she never knew was there and is just starting to reveal its potential," he said referring to the Force.
A darker tone, and many tests
Actor Oscar Isaac has left his Brooklyn apartment to traveled to London and Malin Head, Ireland, where filming is currently underway on Episode VIII. He'll be reprising his role from Episode VII and recently revealed some set secrets in a cover story with Rolling Stone magazine. "In the new film, there's a lot more to do," Isaac said. "What happens now is the heroes get tested. All three of them get tested immensely." Isaac also snuck in some info about fan favorite robot BB-8: "BB-8's doing all right. BB-8 gets tested too! Everybody gets tested! It's the dark second chapter, but not really dark."
The Return of Captain Phasma and...
It's safe to say that Captain Phasma, played by British actress Gwendoline Christie, failed to deliver the punch in "The Force Awakens" that fans were expecting. Thankfully, it appears that the chrome-plated stormtrooper will be given a second shot at redemption. Christie has confirmed that she will be back in "Episode VIII." Let's just hope that this time, she's the threatening baddie we were all promised from the beginning.
Speaking of beginnings, the rumor mill is churning hard that a certain Jedi Knight will once again play a pivotal role in the Star Wars universe. Kristian Harloff of Schmoes Knows and Collider's Jedi Council has heard whispers that Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is in talks to reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. As Luke Skywalker is slated to have a much larger role beyond his "Force Awakens" cameo, it makes sense that his old ghost buddy Kenobi would still offer a guiding voice. The downside of all this? Those Hayden Christensen rumors may also start to hold a bit more water...
A double-sided lightsaber for Rey?
One of the wilder (but completely awesome) pieces of speculation involves Rey and her future choice of lightsaber. While our Force-sensitive heroine was adept at handling Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in "The Force Awakens," she's clearly more familiar with wielding a large staff. It doesn't take much imagination to picture a future Jedi Knight Rey taking a design cue from Darth Maul and blowing us all away with a double-sided lightsaber.
Just what would a crazy, force-powered, double-sided lightsaber wielding Rey look like? Thankfully, we don't have to wait until "Episode IX" for a glimpse. English martial arts expert Chloe Bruce, who plays Daisy Ridley's stunt double in the Star Wars films, posted the above video below showing off her incredible moves with a lightsaber-esque staff. Without a doubt, this needs to happen.
Tom Hardy might make a secret cameo
It looks British actor Tom Hardy has found a role after his Oscar-nominated performance in “The Revenant.” According to MakingStarWars.net, Hardy will play a First Order stormtrooper in a brief cameo as a former classmate with Finn, portrayed by fellow British actor John Boyega. In “The Force Awakens,” James Bond’s Daniel Craig made a cameo as a stormtrooper – although it was only perceptible to ardent fans who recognized the British actor’s voice. Craig never took off his helmet. No word yet if Hardy will do the same.
The music will sound familiar
You certainly would recognize the music of five-time Academy Award winning movie composer John Williams. The 84-year-old American has written the music for such iconic films as “Superman," "E.T.," "Jurassic Park," and the "Indiana Jones” series. Oh, and he’s also the guy behind the music for a little movie franchise called “Star Wars.” And die-hard fans needn’t worry: He’ll be returning to compose the music for Episode VIII. At a recent event in which Williams was honored for his work on the "Star Wars" films, the composer told the audience that he will be returning to a galaxy far, far away and composing the music for the latest installment as well. He revealed that principal photography for Episode VIII is complete and that he’s already seen a very early rough cut. And no, he said, even he doesn't know who Rey's parents are.
A Croatian port city may have a starring role
Besides a return to Skellig Michael Island off the coast of Ireland, filmmakers are also preparing to descend upon the ancient port city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The UNESCO World Heritage site, which has been featured in several episodes of HBO's "Game of Thrones," has been dubbed "the pearl of the Adriatic" for its medieval fortresses and cultural masterpieces.
Filming in Dubrovnik will occur March 9-16. If producers are eager for another ancient site befitting a galaxy far, far away, may we suggest the ruins of this ancient palace on the Mediterranean?
Rey and Finn are back in the gym
English stars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley aren't wasting any time getting back into shape for "Episode VIII." The pair recently posted updates to social media spotlighting a bit of their routines. From what we can gather, Boyega's character Finn is clearly aiming to destroy the First Order with his back muscles.
It may be funny
British comedian Ade Edmondson has reportedly joined the cast after impressing the film’s producers. Known for his slapstick humor, a source said: ‘Ade is one of the most-loved comedy stars in the U.K., but even he would admit 'Star Wars' is a surprise move for him.” The 59-year-old funnyman has a wide swath of interests, and even won a celebrity cooking show in 2013. In the past few years, he's focused more time on his music career and started a band. Perhaps there will be a tune-filled cantina scene in Episode 8? One can hope.
It's set in the past, we think
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) promised that if he reached one million followers on Twitter he’d release a shocking spoiler about Episode 8. After passing that milestone recently, it's no surprise that the Jedi Knight has kept his word. He told his social media followers that the film will be "set in the past." This one spoiler is causing us to have even more questions. Does that mean flashbacks? Time travel? Only time will tell.
It may be a smaller affair
While it's hard to imagine a Stars Wars film being anything but epic, there are indications that this installment might be. Guatemalan actor Oscar Isaac (who portrays starfighter pilot Poe Dameron in "The Force Awakens" as well as in the upcoming Episode 8) said that this will be a more intimate and independent film. "In some ways it feels like we’re making an independent film," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Certain things we get to play with – this kind of intimacy that we get to find – it's special. It’s been really fun."
Finn's dramatic recovery
Could a high-tech healing process first seen in "The Empire Strikes Back" be used to help Finn recover from the gruesome injury he suffered at the end of "The Force Awakens"? Rumors currently circulating online indicate that "Episode VIII" will feature Finn being cut from a "bacta suit" near the beginning of the film.
For those unacquainted, "bacta" is a gelatinous substance that can quickly regrow nerves, skin, and muscle. After he was attacked by wampa ice creature in "Empire," Luke Skywalker was placed inside a bacta tank to help him recover. With John Boyega already confirming that his character will have a "more physical role" in Episode VIII, it's likely that this particular rumor holds water.
A new evil stormtrooper
Should the return of Captain Phasma not live up to our dreams of supreme villainy, director Rian Johnson reportedly may have another trick up his sleeve.
According to Making Star Wars, a First Order Stormtrooper known as "The Executioner" will make an appearance in Episode VIII. In addition to a helmet half-covered in black, the new villain will also wield a kind of three-bladed weapon.
"One rumor with some legs we have heard but cannot confirm is that Finn will go up against The Executioner and this time he doesn’t have Han Solo to save him like in he did last time," the site reports.
Kylo Ren's Darth Vader fandom will grow
If you thought Kylo Ren's obsession with Darth Vader in "The Force Awakens" was peculiar, just wait until you see how he's channeling the legendary Sith in "Episode VIII." The sleuths over at Making Star Wars are saying that Ren's costume will feature an iconic piece of Vader's wardrobe.
"According to sources, Kylo Ren is wearing a Darth Vader cape in 'Star Wars: Episode VIII,'' they write. "The cape is said to be like the one Darth Vader wears in 'The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi.'"
While he cape apparently will not feature the same chain clasp as Vader's, it will otherwise look eerily similar. No one is saying how exactly Ren managed to get ahold of his grandfather's cape – or if it's simply a replica. Perhaps it came out of the same attic trunk as Vader's helmet?
Ren will also get a new ship
In another homage to Darth Vader and his penchant for custom spaceships, Kylo Ren is also preparing to debut his own sleek new attack craft in "The Last Jedi." Officially called the "Sienar Jaemus TIE/VN Space Superiority Fighter," the ship carries the more sinister sounding moniker of "TIE Silencer."
While the vehicle is clearly an evolution of the classic TIE Interceptor from the original trilogy, there are also some hints of the Millennium Falcon's cockpit design in the mix. As Ren is the son of Han Solo, such a nod has not gone unnoticed by fans. The official Star Wars databank also makes clear that Ren's piloting skills will be on full display in the TIE Silencer.
"Ren is an expert pilot – thanks to skills passed down from his father – which he puts to use in exploiting his ship's speed and ferocity," it states. "There is no other First Order craft like the TIE Silencer, and it is an effective tool in Ren's mission to destroy the Resistance."
And some new powerful vehicles to command
In addition to his new TIE Silencer, Kylo Ren will also command a galactic army with a few new powerful upgrades in its arsenal.
Up first is the successor to the original Star Destroyer class vessels: The First Order Dreadnought. Spanning a mind-boggling 7,700 meters (the Empire has the best contractors), this Mandator IV-class warship two powerful orbital guns and 24 cannons on the ventral side. It is more than two-and-a-half times the size of the Resurgent-class warships used in "The Force Awakens."
The iconic AT-AT walkers of the original trilogy are also getting a model bump with the new AT-M6. Featuring a massive new cannon on its back, the M6 also has the ability to brace itself during firing by bending its legs at both the wrist and knee. While Popular Mechanics thinks this upgraded design only degrades what they consider one of the most "dreadful designs" in the Empire, we're nonetheless excited to see these hulking metal monsters in action.
Supreme Leader Snoke steps into the light
In what should come as welcome news to fans of the original trilogy, rumors continue to build that Supreme Leader Snoke will be fully realized in "Last Jedi" using a mix of CGI and practical effects.
"For Star Wars: Episode VIII it appears, at least in part, that Snoke will not be a character generated in a computer," reports Making Star Wars. "Instead he will be a huge puppet around seven to eight feet tall, taking several people to operate and a man inside a suit to make him walk."
Indeed, a source with details on the first teaser for the film says that this massive Snoke puppet will in fact make an appearance. Since all we saw of this evil mastermind in "The Force Awakens" was a hazy hologram, this should be quite the reveal!
As for Snoke's scarred and semi-crushed face, another rumor circulating is that the damage was inflicted by none other than Luke Skywalker himself. This may explain his obsession with finding the Jedi to seek revenge.
Luke Skywalker isn't alone on his island home
Skellig Michael Island, off the cost of Ireland, is home to the ruins of an abandoned monastery from the 12th century. (Photo: Wikimedia)
While Rey had an easy time landing on the planet of Ahch-to and walking right up to Luke Skywalker to gift him his old lightsaber, she'll apparently have a harder time staying there for any length of time.
Rumors are growing that the scenes shot on Skellig Michael Island off Ireland will feature creatures that serve as the "protectors of Ahch-to." Rey will have to earn their trust, as well as reportedly battle their sea monster leader, before she can begin her training with the legendary Skywalker.
According to Making Star Wars, the bird-like protectors (with extremely sharp teeth) are reportedly based on the puffins that inhabit Skellig Michael. "They’re sort of like a bird mixed with a Gremlin," the site reported. "Someone once said it was like the Star Wars version of a Furby, but the look and feel is so Star Wars they loved it."
Johnson teases an epic space battle explosion
While "The Force Awakens" lacked the space battles the Star Wars franchise has become known for, "The Last Jedi" will be decidedly a return to form.
In both the teaser trailer and a new behind-the-scenes image shared by director Rian Johnson, the First Order and the Resistance will be engaged in what appears to be an epic battle involving several different spacecraft. At the heart of it is some kind of massive explosion, possibly a star destroyer or other large orbital gun platform. Either way, whatever side is at the receiving end of this big boom will not recover lightly.
Filming wrapped July 2016
Both Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill shared the news through Instagram that filming on "Episode VIII" officially wrapped on July 13th. For Hamill in particular, the goodbye appeared to be bittersweet.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: