star wars episode 8star wars episode 8The 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' rumor mill is churning hard on everything from Obi-Wan's possible return to new filming locations. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

'Star Wars' Episode VIII: What we know now

Actors reveal secrets from the set (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.

Filming on Episode VIII and IX has ended

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."


Yoda returns

Yoda has been voiced by the British-born filmmaker Frank Oz for decades.For decades, Yoda has been voiced by the British-born filmmaker Frank Oz. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

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

Warwick Davis and the Ewok that made him a household name.Warwick Davis and the Ewok that made him a household name. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

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

Luke (left) and Rey (right) both come face-to-face with the Force.Luke (left) and Rey (right) both come face-to-face with the Force. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

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

Oscar Isaac, who appeared in "The Force Awakens," will also be appearing in Episode VIII.Oscar Isaac, who appeared in "The Force Awakens," will also be appearing in Episode VIII. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

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...

captain phasma episode 8Actress Gwendoline Christie has confirmed that Captain Phasma will return for 'Episode VIII.' (Photo: Lucasfilm)

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

Tom Hardy at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015, promoting his movie "Mad Max: Fury Road."Tom Hardy at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015, promoting his movie "Mad Max: Fury Road." (Photo: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock)

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

Oscar Isaac has revealed something interesting from the set of the new film.Oscar Isaac has revealed something interesting from the set of the new film. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

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

the force awakens FN-2199According to Making Star Wars, 'The Executioner' may feature a weapon similar to the one used by FN-2199 in 'The Force Awakens.' (Photo: The Force Awakens)

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

Vader CapeVarious angles of Darth Vader's cape from the video game 'Force Unleashed 2.' (Photo: Lucasarts)

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?


Luke Skywalker isn't alone on his island home

skellig michaelSkellig 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."


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.

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