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- American film producer
- American film director and film producer
The press junket for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was held this past weekend, but because no one in the press has seen the movie yet and the actors involved are incredibly disciplined, no real spoilers were revealed during the event’s many hours of conversation. That being said, plenty of interesting tidbits came out of the two press conferences given by the film’s cast and crew (including director/co-writer J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan). So we’ve rounded up five of the most enticing factoids and scooplets to feed your Star Wars appetite. Just 10 days until The Force Awakens!
1. Kylo Revealed
One of the first big topics was the new villain, Kylo Ren, who is a Darth Vader-fanboy and DIY Sith. Adam Driver, who plays the masked madman, gave the best description of Kylo yet: Basically, he’s a mess.
“He’s very unpolished and unfinished,” Driver explained. “What J.J. and Larry did, keeping all the vocabulary that everyone’s very familiar with from Star Wars and the Dark Side, keeping that very much intact but also adding a kind of recklessness or something that’s kind of un-neat. People normally associate the Dark Side with being organized and calm and control and in command.”
Instead of a purely evil villain, Kylo is an ideologue, and a struggling one at that.
“We tried to not think of him being bad or evil or a villain and tried to make something that was more three-dimensional,” Driver added. “That to me seemed more dangerous and more unpredictable, somebody who feels morally justified in doing whatever they need to, to publicly state what they’re doing is right. That seems like something more active to play than being evil for the sake of it.”
Lawrence Kasdan, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and J.J. Abrams at ‘The Force Awakens’ junket (Splash News)
Kasdan, who also co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and thus knows a thing or two about villains, said making a conflicted villain made for a more human character.
“That’s why we were so excited about Adam playing this part,” he said. “There’s never been a character like Kylo in the saga. He hasn’t got all his sh– all-together. You expect that this is some evil genius, but what you’re getting is all the contradictions and the conflict that any one of us can feel at any moment.”
2. Girl Power
While Princess Leia was the only female character to get much screen or speaking time in the original trilogy — “I invented girl power,” Carrie Fisher quipped at the event — the new films should have plenty of women playing big roles and becoming role models.
“I hope Rey will be something of a girl power figure, and I think with a story in which she is weaved into richly and has an important way, she will have some impact in a girl-powery way,” Daisy Ridley, the newcomer who plays one of the new heroes, said. “She’s brave and she’s vulnerable and she’s so nuanced. That’s what’s so exciting. She doesn’t have to be one thing to embody a woman in a film. And she’s not important because she’s a woman, she transcends gender, she’s going to speak to men and women.”
The forces for good aren’t the only ones to have a prominent female player: Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie, also promises to have a big impact on the action. And so far, the British actress has loved the response to her chrome-armored Stormtrooper.
Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Kathleen Kennedy, and Harrison Ford (Splash News)
“I was very surprised and heartened at the overwhelming response to he character of Captain Phasma,” Christie said. “This is a character who so far, we have related to due to her choices, due to her character, and not due to the way she’s been made in flesh. And conventionally that is how we have related to female characters. So this to me felt very progressive. And the response from the audience and fans has been so celebratory, and it makes me think this is the kind of thing that people want to see.”
Funny side note about that: the costume that everyone is digging was originally intended for Kylo Ren.
“Captain Phasma was pitched as a Kylo Ren costume originally and for story reasons it didn’t make sense,” Abrams revealed. “But we suddenly realized, ‘Oh my god! This is one of the greatest looking costumes I’ve ever seen,’ and he-then-she became one of my favorite characters in the movie.”
3. Start your Yoda-Maz Kanata fan fiction
The space pirate played by Lupita Nyong'o in motion-capture gear, is over 1,000 years old — which obviously means that she was around when both the prequels and the original trilogy took place. It also makes her contemporaries with Yoda, and Abrams suggested that the two pint-sized heroes did have the occasion to meet.
“I do believe that Maz and Yoda, at one point, crossed paths, due to the events of past films,” the director said. “But that is not something that happens in this one.”
Yoda is dead, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him return for The Force Awakens. A few other creatures from previous installments will be missing, as well.
“Jar Jar is not in the movie,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said. “Ewoks are not in the movie, because Harrison insisted on it.”
4. Oscar Isaac really is Poe Dameron
The Ex Machina and Inside Llewyn Davis star plays a fighter pilot named Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, and his backstory, unlike his fellow newbies, has already been revealed. Dameron is the son of two Rebel pilots, as was shown in the comic book Shattered Empire, and Isaac himself had something to do with that. He met with Abrams and Kennedy soon after he was cast, and helped influence his character’s roots with his out-loud musings.
“In A New Hope, at the medal ceremony, one of Guatemala’s claims to fame is that last shot where the ships are leaving, when you see the temples, it was shot in Guatemala,” Isaac explained. “And for me, the fact that I was born there and that’s a Rebel base and I’m playing a Resistance fighter, I thought maybe Poe was there, that’s where he’s from. And then this comic book comes out where Poe’s parents end up going to Yavin and making sweet love.”
Spoiler: The Damerons know how to have fun.
5. John Boyega isn’t listening to the Internet’s nonsense.
When John Boyega’s Finn showed up in the first trailer in Stormtrooper gear, certain unenlightened sectors of the Internet voiced displeasure with one of the First Order’s foot soldiers being black. It was a silly kerfuffle, and Boyega paid it no mind.
“I really don’t care about the black Stormtrooper stuff, I couldn’t care less,” he said defiantly. On the positive, the public attention did earn him a pretty cool greeting from another black Star Wars star.
"I was at a party and someone tapped me on the shoulder, like 'Yo, black Jedi!’“ he recalled. "I turned around it was Samuel L. Jackson!”
Watch a trailer for the film below: