They walked down the aisle in single file, the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, flanked on either end by Praetorian Guards in flawless crimson armor, their weapons at the ready.
The Jedi Cast Appears
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke) and Director Rian Johnson strode through a parted sea of assorted press. I sat a foot away from their passing, looking as stoic as a journalist and feeling as giddy as a schoolboy. I forgot to hit record on my iPhone.
Basically, I was this excited:
— Whit Honea (@whithonea) December 3, 2017
But I digress.
After their incredible entrance, which you’ll recall I didn’t record, Johnson and the cast took a seat upon a long white couch in a dark hotel ballroom at a secret press junket in downtown Los Angeles, so we decided to ask them questions.
The Jedi Cast Q&A
One theme that ran throughout the Q&A was the feeling of intimacy the cast felt on the set of The Last Jedi, which Dern compared to the type of environment one would expect to find on an indie film rather than a pop culture powerhouse.
When asked if Ewoks would appear in The Last Jedi, Johnson replied: “It depends on what drugs you take before seeing the movie.”
On The Last Jedi paying homage to The Empire Strikes Back, Johnson said, “It’s the second movie in a trilogy, and I think we’ve been trained to expect it will be a little darker, and obviously it looks a little darker, the thing is though, for me, I love the tone that was established in the original films, and also that J.J. [Abrams] captured in The Force Awakens, of fun. First and foremost we wanted to make it feel like a Star Wars movie. That means you have the intensity and you have the opera, but it also means that it has you come out of the theater and you want to run in your backyard, grab your spaceship toys [synergy!] and make them play around. We’re going to go into some intense places in the movie, but it’s also fun.”
Hamill, when asked how The Last Jedi compared to The Force Awakens replied that his answer would be in direct proportion to how much screen time he had in the latter. Then silence. Hilarity ensued.
To the same question, Boyega said, “I just feel the story is moving forward. The Force Awakens gave us a blueprint and it was pretty good, and now it’s about the characters and intense pressure. There’s a lot going on.”
“It was very intimate, very emotional,” added Serkis, “and I wasn’t expecting that. It’s a dance between these epic moments and then hilarious scenes, literally flipping on a dime.”
“There is something about this film,” said Christie, “and I think it’s because of the world that we live in, it’s a changing and evolving place, that it retains the simplicity of those elements [good versus evil] but resonates with what it is to follow your own human, dark, narcissistic tendencies, and where that will take you. And I love that. It’s done so beautifully.”
Carrie Fisher and The Women of the Last Jedi
When the death of Carrie Fisher was discussed, the cast spoke about the importance of the actress, her honesty, and how she was a role model for girls and women even when she wasn’t commanding the screen as Princess Leia. The conversation turned to the women in The Last Jedi, and what they might mean to a new generation of young viewers.
“Growing up in a liberal household,” said Ridley, “I was never made to feel one way. When I got involved, I knew it was a big deal, but the response was so far beyond anything I could have imagined. It’s just great characters, so I’m thrilled.”
“In the beginning,” added Tran, “I just wanted to do it justice, but guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt.”
“You get to see women that are strong, not because they are acting like men, but they’re doing something else,” said Christie. “You’re seeing a developed character that is showing complex character traits. I’m delighted about that, delighted that something as legendary as Star Wars has decided to be modern and to reflect our society more as it is.”
While Isaac made a point to honor the strong influences in his own life, most of them being women, Serkis jokingly noted that his character was not a fan of strong women in the First Order, a funny little bit that he called “Snokesplaining.”
Adam Driver, when asked what the takeaway will be for the audience upon seeing The Last Jedi noted that it was a personal thing that would vary by person. “But for some,” he said, “it may be nothing.”
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to view the film, but we were in good company. Turns out, Gleeson hasn’t seen it either, and he was ribbed for it often.
Speaking of ribs, I also got a pretty sweet t-shirt, which is porg-rific:
Note, chances are good that I’m wearing my porg t-shirt right now, regardless of when you read this.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens everywhere December 15. Watch the trailer here.
Featured photo by my pal Chris Lewis, because he had a better seat.