On Dec. 3, 2017, we were on hand for the global press conference for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Just like the press conference for “The Force Awakens,” secrecy surrounding the event and the film was high. Because of that secrecy, the film was not screened for the press, so the cast in attendance and director Rian Johnson couldn’t reveal too much. What they did reveal, however, left us with plenty of tidbits. Here are the five juiciest.
1. It’s Dark But Fun.
The second chapter of a “Star Wars” trilogy film tends to be dark. In “Attack of the Clones,” the war that ended the Jedi began. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Darth Vader ran the Rebellion from their base, captured Han Solo and told Luke Skywalker that he was really his father. They get very dark. But director Rian Johnson says that’s not all we have to look forward to: “We’ve been trained to expect [that “The Last Jedi”] will be a little darker, and obviously it looks a little darker. Though, for me, I loved the tone of the original films. First and foremost, we wanted it to feel like a ‘Star Wars’ movie. We’re going to go to some intense places in the movie, but I hope also it’s fun and funny.”
Here’s Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, speaking to the second chapter phenomenon: “Often with the second chapter in a story of three, because the first one sets the tone and introduces them, in the second one you don’t have to spend so much time doing that. You can delve right into the story and into the conflict of each of the characters,” Isaac added, “[Rian Johnson] has challenged, deeply, every single character, including the droids. These are the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced, and that’s how you learn about the characters on all sides of the spectrum, from light to dark.”
2. The Sets and Spectacle Are Bigger, But the Film Is Still Intimate.
During the press conference, John Boyega, who plays the Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance-fighter Finn, marveled at the size of the production and how it had grown in scale from the previous installment: “Every day was a new set. The practical effects like doubled. The sets were bigger. It was exciting and amazing. But you still felt an intimacy, like an independent film but with a big budget.”
Laura Dern, who plays a new character, a Resistance Admiral named Amilyn Holdo, agreed with the assessment of the film’s intimacy. “It’s extraordinary given the size of the cast. It was shocking and awesome. We were stunned by being in such massive sets and [Johnson] was encouraging us to try things and explore character and explore this duality of light and dark within characters. And that’s where George Lucas started the mythology, it was brilliant.”
Adam Driver, aka Kylo Ren, doubled down on the importance of this intimacy in the film. “Rian knows that spectacle won’t mean anything if you don’t care about what’s going on.”
“I kind of think that feels good, that kind of intimacy of the process,” Johnson said. “If Laura Dern is telling me that, I might be on the right track.”
3. Mark Hamill Isn’t Messing Around With Keeping Secrets.
Mark Hamill, who is reprising the iconic role of Luke Skywalker, dodged every question asked of him. At one point, a reporter asked what it was like to train Rey and without missing a beat he said, “Well, you’re assuming that I train Rey. Do I? I don’t know.”
“I have to be really careful,” Hamill continued. “People ask me if it was difficult to pick up and wield a lightsaber and I go, ‘Do I?'”
Regardless, he assured us that his screen time is at least twice what it was in “The Force Awakens.”
4. The First Order Has the Upper Hand, But Might Be a Mess.
“The pressure is on,” John Boyega told us about the plight of the Resistance. “There hasn’t been a ‘Star Wars’ movie that explores war the way ‘The Last Jedi’ does.”
“It’s a dire situation. The Resistance is on its last legs,” Oscar Isaac said. “We’re trying to survive, and the First Order is right on top of us. It is like war. You just have to keep moving to survive, and you feel the momentum of everything that happened in ‘The Force Awakens’ pressing down on you in this film.”
But things aren’t so neat inside the First Order, either. According to Adam Driver, there’s a rivalry between his character and Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux that we don’t quite get to the bottom of that causes friction in the film.
Gleeson agreed. “I think it’s funny, the huge amount of drama going on in the First Order and the huge amount of bitchy infighting. A united front is difficult for them.”
That’s nothing new for the forces of the dark side in “Star Wars”; bad guys in these films have always jockeyed for power over one another.
5. The Story Isn’t Told Through the Eyes of the Droids.
When George Lucas set out to make the original “Star Wars” film, he decided to tell the story through the eyes of R2-D2 and C-3P0. It was a move he took from Akira Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress,” relaying the story through the eyes of the lowliest characters on the totem pole.
“The Last Jedi” will not be following suit.
“It’s different,” Rian Johnson said. “It was different in ‘The Force Awakens,’ also. We don’t have that ‘worm’s eye view.’ With this it’s a different story and had different needs, so we’re with our leads the whole time.”
Speaking of droids, BB-9E was willing to have a quick chat with the author at the press conference.