For a director famed for his secrecy, JJ Abrams seems to be allowing more than a few titbits to leak about the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Entertainment Weekly’s new issue offers choice details on Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, while the web has also given us a (rather unofficial and likely to be removed quick-sharp by Disney) look at Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker in full Jedi garb. Meanwhile, naughty Tory MPs have been revealing spoilers after set visits to Pinewood Studios. Here are five takeaways from this week’s revelations about the new movie (plus one piece of incredibly well-sourced gossip about Disney’s much-hyped spin-offs).
Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a Darth Vader obsessive
While Vader himself is long gone, his legacy lives on in the shape of the nefarious Ren, the crossguard lightsaber-wielding frontman for the new First Order, the political and military faction that sprung from the ashes of the evil empire. Abrams shares that the villain’s black cloak and face mask were intended to remind the viewer of the evil Sith Lord once known as Anakin Skywalker. “The movie explains the origins of the mask and where it’s from, but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask,” the director told the magazine. “[Ren] is well aware of what’s come before, and that’s very much a part of the story of the film.”
Abrams also confirmed that Ren designed that controversial new lightsaber without any help. “The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” said the director. There are also hints that Ren’s journey could manifest as a cracked mirror image of Luke Skywalker’s path towards becoming a Jedi in the new trilogy, with the evil ingénue yet to come into his full powers in The Force Awakens.
This is what Luke Skywalker looks like now
We already knew that Mark Hamill would sports an Obi Wan Kenobi-like beard in The Force Awakens, and while EW only offered photographs of key supporting characters, a number of sites have posted an on-set image of Hamill in full Jedi uniform. Our first proper look at the elder Skywalker suggests he will wear an ankle-length grey and white cloak with a black-and-silver belt. It’s a little more ornate than earlier incarnations, still hinting at monkish humility, but with a little bit of dashing mystery thrown in for good measure. Most importantly, Hamill looks in good shape.
A desire to tell Skywalker’s story inspired Abrams to take on The Force Awakens. EW reveals that Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy lured Abrams over from Star Trek with the question: “Who is Luke Skywalker?”, and the magazine hints that the former Tatooine farm boy could be a very different man from the young Jedi Knight we last saw in Return of the Jedi. “The themes and ideas that we all continue to talk about are the themes and ideas that were the inherent in the original movies,” Kennedy told the magazine. “We’re looking, obviously, for aspiration, for characters who are conflicted between good and evil, dark and light.”
It seems unlikely that Skywalker finally turned to the dark side, but the sense is that whose personality didn’t just crystallise at the age of 30, as we might previously have assumed. And just because his history draws the strands of The Force Awakens together, don’t expect Hamill to be the lead: EW suggests Harrison Ford’s Han Solo will have the most screen time of the three original trilogy returnees.
Names, and the absence of them, could be important
EW reveals that Kylo Ren’s surname was given to him by a group called the Knights of Ren; likewise John Boyega’s renegade Stormtrooper Finn and Daisy Ridley’s scavenging Rey may have unexpected identities. “I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record,” Abrams told the magazine. Could there be familial links to past Star Wars heroes and villains here? There have long been rumours that Rey might be Han and Leia’s daughter …
The might of the First Order might have been unwittingly revealed by a Tory MP
Abrams confirms that the shot of the Irish actor, Domhnall Gleeson as General Huxin in his command centre depicts him “longing to reveal the full might of The First Order’s military power to an unsuspecting galaxy”. We’re going to splice this together with a tweet from Tory MP David Gauke this week in which he unwittingly revealed that the Star Wars set at Pinewood Studios features a brand new Death Star. Of course, this could be a case of mistaken identity, or perhaps the First Order has constructed an ultimate weapon similar in scope and power to the great artificial planetoids from the original trilogy, though subtly different in nature. Or perhaps Abrams just didn’t have any new ideas at all.
— David Gauke (@DavidGauke) August 13, 2015
There’s good and bad news about the spin-offs
Kennedy revealed to EW that Disney-owned Lucasfilm are still working on the ‘anthology’ film, rumoured to focus on bounty hunter Boba Fett, the film from which Josh Trank was unceremoniously dumped in April at the height of the whole Fantastic Four farrago. Less positive is the suggestion that film-makers really are planning to give us Han Solo the teenager in the forthcoming origins tale from The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Kennedy described the new role, which hasn’t yet been cast, as “probably in the high teens, low 20s”, which should have the bookies scrambling to lower the odds on Breaking Bad’s 34-year-old Aaron Paul getting the role.
by Ben Child