STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI: New images and details arrive, courtesy EW!

A legitimate reason to panic about the threat of nuclear war: where will we watch STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI? Laughing to stop from panicking aside, we’re only five months away from the highly anticipated sequel, so that means we’ve got a handful of new images from the upcoming Fall Preview issue of EW.

The coolest among these new images is Kylo Ren’s new spaceship, the TIE Silencer. Modeled after Darth Vader’s Custom TIE Fighter, I love the idea that Kylo would have his own TIE modeled off Vader’s because of course he would. He’s the galaxy’s biggest Vader fanboy, so of course he’s going to have a spaceship like his dear old granddad. Also, the thing just looks cool, so here’s hoping the inevitable LEGO set of it arrives sooner rather than later.

We also have a neat exterior shot of the casino on Canto Bight where Finn will be undertaking a mission of some sort, and I kind of like the glamorous fortress look. It’s also not aping Courescant too much, and I’m eager to get a look inside to see the “glamorous galactic getaway”, and especially to see what kind of characters exist within it. We’ve seen the scummy bars of the galaxy, but luxury casinos have a different clientele, and I’m interested to see how they look at the current battle between the Resistance and the First Order.

Naturally, the issue also provides some new images of Rey, Finn, Poe, and other cast members, and I’m curious when we’ll get to see more of the new characters.

“Who has Luke Skywalker become?” – Johnson and Hamill explain

One of the biggest surprises of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS was just how little of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker was in the film. Luke’s presence loomed large, but it was very much a film focused on introducing new characters and, in hindsight, giving Harrison Ford’s Han Solo a fitting sendoff. But for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, Luke is front and center, and he is far from the Luke Skywalker we last saw in RETURN OF THE JEDI.

As part of EW’s new cover story, Hamill, Daisy Ridley, and writer/director Rian Johnson teased what fans can expect from the Luke-Rey storyline in The Last Jedi, with Johnson revealing that it all began with figuring out why Luke was in exile to begin with:

“The very first step in the writing of this was figuring out why he’s on that island. We know that he is not a coward. He’s not just hiding because he’s scared. But we also know that he must know his friends are in danger. He must know the galaxy needs him. And he’s sitting on this island in the middle of nowhere. There had to be an answer. It had to be something where Luke Skywalker believes he’s doing the right thing – and the process of figuring out what that is and unpacking it is the journey for Rey.”

Hamill admits that he was taken off guard by Luke’s current state of mind:

“The fact that Luke says, ‘I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end…’ I mean, that’s a pretty amazing statement for someone who was the symbol of hope and optimism in the original films. When I first read it, my jaw dropped. What would make someone that alienated from his original convictions? That’s not something that you can just make up in an afternoon, and I really struggled with this thing.”

Ridley says it’s hard for Rey too, especially after the bond she forged with Han Solo, who was something of a father figure. Now she’s stuck on an island with “this grumpy guy” who very clearly wants to be left alone. So it very much sounds like the Luke-Rey portion of THE LAST JEDI will be focused on Rey trying to turn Luke around, and Luke possibly training Rey in the Force. But it’s going to be an arduous road, as Luke is still traumatized by the last time he tried to train a promising young Jedi:

“[Luke] made a huge mistake in thinking that his nephew was the chosen one, so he invested everything he had in Kylo, much like Obi-Wan did with my character,” Hamill says. “And he is betrayed, with tragic consequences. Luke feels responsible for that. That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late.”

But while THE LAST JEDI may or may not reveal Rey’s true parentage, the film does still leave some mystery as to where Luke’s been and what he’s done. Hamill says he spoke with Johnson to fill out the backstory that isn’t explicitly revealed in the film:

“There’s massive amounts of backstory that is left to your imagination and I couldn’t do my job without figuring out what that was. Since it’s not really important to the main story as a whole a lot of it is just for my own process. I talked with Rian about it and went into this elaborate scenario of what happened to Luke after the end of the Return of the Jedi.”

It’s possible we’ll get some of that backstory in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX, which Colin Trevorrow is directing and which just hired Jack Thorne to do some rewriting on Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s script. Or it’s possible Luke goes the way of Han Solo and kicks the bucket in THE LAST JEDI. Just as with THE FORCE AWAKENS, Lucasfilm is keeping a tight lid on this film, which is for the best. And EPISODE IX doesn’t start filming until 2018, so the studio doesn’t have to confirm who’s coming back and who’s not until folks have seen THE LAST JEDI.

Unexpected Hero: Finn struggles with Resistance

Finn (John Boyega) has had a rough go of it. He starts out in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS not wanting to be part of the First Order, and he escapes only to end up in a whole mess of new trouble, which ends up with him in a coma. While he’s able to heal up, EW reports that Finn just wants out of everything. He doesn’t want to go back to being a stormtrooper, but he also doesn’t want to be part of the Resistance.

“It got really real for him,” Boyega tells EW. “And he just wants to get away and not be involved. His intention in the first place was to go to the Outer Rim. He was always brought back [in The Force Awakens,], but this is his chance to get away and perhaps find Rey and go off together. He’s trying to do that at first.”

Unfortunately, the thing about doing a big heroic act like helping to destroy Starkiller Base is that now everyone thinks you’re a hero. Enter mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who looks up Finn.

“Everyone in the space, throughout the galaxy, would have heard about the young Jedi who discovered her powers and defeated Kylo Ren and the young former Stormtrooper who helped save the day,” Boyega says. “He’s a hero to people like Rose, who fight for the Resistance because their homes have been destroyed by the First Order.”

So when Rose first meets Finn, it’s a big deal for her, especially when she sees herself as kind of a nobody. Her sister Paige (Veronica Ngo) is the one who’s the big deal, “a Resistance gunner who fights on the front lines alongside Resistance luminaries like Poe Dameron,” while Rose is a grease monkey. However, when she meets Finn and sees him as a hero, he now feels like he has something to live up to even though he just wants to get away from the war.

Their journey will end up taking Rose and Finn to the world of Cantonica, where they’ll be on a mission at the casino on Canto Bight. “The whole city is kind of one sort of luxury resort that’s been built on this very otherwise abandoned, arid planet,” director Rian Johnson says. “It’s like Vegas with aliens. So maybe it is just like Vegas.”

The Weird and Adorable: What’s new in LAST JEDI?

The STAR WARS universe is no stranger to alien creatures. We’re quick to forget that when A NEW HOPE first hit theaters, now-iconic characters like Chewbacca and Greedo were fresh designs. So when Lucasfilm revived the STAR WARS saga with THE FORCE AWAKENS, we knew we were getting new creatures. THE FORCE AWAKENS was mainly focused on fleshing out BB-8 but also introduced folks like Maz Kanata and, of course, Supreme Leader Snoke, but with THE LAST JEDI writer/director Rian Johnson is creating his own creatures and new characters that will hopefully become memorable pieces of STAR WARS lore.

That certainly extends to The Praetorian Guard, which as revealed by EW serve as the protectors of Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis via performance capture. As seen in the photo above, these guys know how to fight, and that was exactly Johnson’s vision:

“The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t,” writer-director Rian Johnson tells EW. “They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer] Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous.”

Johnson says The Praetorians, who get their name from the elite guard that protected ancient Roman emperors, essentially serve as Snoke’s bodyguards. This is fascinating, and suggests that while powerful, Snoke may not be as physically intimidating as someone like Darth Vader or even Emperor Palpatine.

Johnson confirms that we will see more of Snoke in THE LAST JEDI, but that doesn’t mean we’ll learn everything about him, so you may wanna pocket all those Snoke theories:

“Similar to Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And a story is not a Wikipedia page. For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader. Then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story.” In The Last Jedi, Johnson says, “we’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to.”

The filmmaker also puts to rest rumors that Snoke might be performed via puppet, confirming it’s an entirely mo-cap performance in THE LAST JEDI. But villains aren’t the only interesting creature designs! We’ve already met the porgs, which Johnson says were inspired by seeing puffins all over Skellig Michael where many of the Luke/Rey scenes were filmed. EW has a new image of the adorable creatures below.

But the sequel will also introduce The Caretakers, which are amphibious anthropomorphic nun-like creatures who tend to the buildings on Ahch-To, where Luke has chosen to hide in exile. Johnson says The Caretakers aren’t thrilled that he’s there, but they live with it, and their inclusion means Luke and Rey won’t be entirely alone on that island.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens December 15th. John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Dohmnall Gleeson (General Hux), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), the late Carrie Fisher (General Leia), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Andy Serkis (Snoke) all return for the latest Star Wars, joined by newcomer Kelly Marie Tran alongside Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern.

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