It's the summer of Skywalker. Vanity Fair’s traditional Star Wars preview issue has just been released, bringing fans exclusive photos and set-visit nuggets from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The story by Lev Grossman, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, does not offer any hints as to which Skywalker is rising. But there are plenty of other reveals. Here's what we learned about Episode IX from perusing VF's new issue.
Your first look at #StarWars: The Rise of Skywalker is here! Let Vanity Fair introduce you to the final chapter in the Skywalker saga. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz. Story by Lev Grossman. https://t.co/ER4XSJmZ8k pic.twitter.com/OyQKDN69eR— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) May 22, 2019
Kylo and Rey's fates are intertwined.
This won't come as news to anyone who's seen the previous two films, but the relationship between Jedi warrior Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Vader-worshipping antagonist Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is about to come to a head. The Rise of Skywalker will reveal that their Force connection is somehow "even deeper" than the telepathic communication they sometimes shared in the previous films. As Driver puts it, Kylo "has been forging this maybe-bond with Rey, and [in The Last Jedi] it kind of ends with the question in the air: Is he going to pursue that relationship, or when the door of her ship goes up, does that also close that camaraderie that they were maybe forming?"
Since VF just debuted a photo of Rey and Kylo battling it out with lightsabers in the middle of a storm, they clearly have some things to hash out. In fact, their story may be what Grossman refers to as the "climax" of "the millennia-long conflict" between the Jedi Order and the Sith. And Rey is, indeed, approaching the title of Jedi master; according to VF's sources, she's made such progress between films that her training is "almost complete."
The film was written around unused scenes of Carrie Fisher — some of which involve her daughter, Billie Lourd.
Faced with the agonizing dilemma of how to make General Leia a part of Episode IX after actress Carrie Fisher's death, writer-director J.J. Abrams realized that he had enough unused and cut scenes from The Force Awakens to incorporate Fisher into the film. So he literally wrote parts of the script around the footage and dialogue that was available to him. While working on Leia's scenes, Abrams says he initially wrote out the minor Resistance officer character played by Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd, until Lourd asked to share scenes with her late mother. "And so, there are moments where they’re talking; there are moments where they’re touching,” says Abrams.
We will finally see the Knights of Ren.
Supreme Leader Snoke's elite team of warriors, in which Kylo Ren was raised up as a First Order leader, was briefly seen as part of Rey's lightsaber vision on Takodana. Now the black-coaked Sith followers are going to play a major role, with VF describing them in a photo caption as "elite fearsome enforcers of Kylo Ren’s dark will."
Director @jjabrams rehearses a scene with the Knights of Ren on the set of #TheRiseOfSkywalker. Read more on these elite warriors in @VanityFair’s special The Rise of Skywalker issue.— Star Wars (@starwars) May 22, 2019
Read the cover story: https://t.co/Nq5QF0Wn8V pic.twitter.com/tx25tiMZqd
C-3PO does something surprising.
And that's all actor Anthony Daniels will give us, except that the first line he speaks is "common emblem." (No, Grossman doesn't know what it means either.)
There are new good guys, new bad guys, and a "large banana-slug alien named Klaud."
A new picture shows Naomi Ackie's bow-wielding character Jannah riding side-by-side with Finn on previously unseen horse-like creatures called orbaks. Jannah is described in the caption as an "ally." Richard E. Grant, on the other hand, is a First Order official: Allegiant General Pryde. (Grant revealed this to Yahoo Entertainment in October. Almost. Sort of. Not really.)
Here’s what we can tell you about #TheRiseofSkywalker: when the film picks up—about a year after the end of The Last Jedi—Rey, Finn, and Poe are all finally in the same place for the first time since The Force Awakens https://t.co/cbjHB1IDSd pic.twitter.com/XWqLCCbsrK— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) May 22, 2019
As for Keri Russell, she's playing a "scoundrel" named Zorri Bliss, who wears a full-head mask and a soon-to-be-cosplayed-everywhere purple suit. We don't know what side she's on; as Han Solo taught us, "scoundrel" can go either way. Fans have already seen the new droid, tiny D-O, revealed at Star Wars Celebration. In terms of new aliens, there are the Aki-Aki, desert dwellers pictured in African-inspired robes, and the aforementioned Klaud, who doesn't appear in VF's photos. However, remember the crazy-looking creature behind Finn on the leaked Star Wars poster that everyone thought was fake? The poster had correct character designs for Zori Bliss and the Knights of Ren, so there's some legitimacy there. And that yellow guy certainly looks like a "banana-slug alien." (The poster also shows C-3PO wielding what appears to be Chewie’s bowcaster blaster, which could be the aforementioned surprising thing that Daniels hinted at.)
We have some new planets, too.
The article didn't confirm whether any scenes take place on Endor, as Yahoo Entertainment speculated after seeing the teaser trailer. However, it does reveal that the desert scenes take place, not on Tatooine or Jakku, but on a planet called Pasaana, filmed on location in Jordan. There's also a "snow-dusted world" called Kijimi, where Russell's character is pictured in the "Thieves' Quarter."
Annie Leibovitz took some gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for this month's Vanity Fair, and I wrote a _really_long_ caption to go with them https://t.co/SVBJTWNG1p— Lev Grossman (@leverus) May 22, 2019
That desert chase scene from the trailer is going to be epic.
Described as "spotlighting the heroics of Chewbacca, BB-8, and Rey," the Fury Road-looking chase scene photographed for Vanity Fair also involves C-3PO, Finn and Poe. Speaking of Finn and Poe (referred to as Stormpilot by fans rooting for a romance), they've both re-committed to the Resistance after some waffling in The Last Jedi — and according to actor Oscar Isaac, Poe now sees Finn as "his family."
Abrams wrote his ending with input from George Lucas, Rian Johnson, and original-trilogy writer Lawrence Kasdan.
According to Abrams, the ending of The Rise of Skywalker was designed specifically to conclude not just the new trilogy, but the entire nine-film Skywalker Saga (including the original trilogy and the prequels). And Driver says that he has known where Kylo would end up since his first meetings with Abrams for The Force Awakens. "An overall arc was very, not vague, the opposite, it was very clear — [there was] an end in sight even from the very beginning," says Driver. "The details obviously hadn’t been worked out, but we had talked about the very thing that we’d been working towards with this last one.”
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