Update: The film is out! Read our full review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, then dive back into the backstory below for all the juicy dirt that led up to the epic. And brace yourself: Star Wars: Episode IX should come out in December of 2019.
Director Rian Johnson’s addition to the Star Wars canon, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, is here, hitting theaters on December 15. There’s been no shortage of updates on the film in recent months, and the latest news regards a cameo appearance from a close friend of one of franchise’s beloved stars, which we’ll dig into below.
To get you ready for the film, we’re collecting all of the news, rumors, and clandestine whispers we can find to help you analyze the details and keep anticipation high for the big premiere.
Dogs in space
The late Carrie Fisher is sorely missed, but her memory lives on as someone very close to her will be appearing in the latest entry of the Star Wars saga. A keen-eyed fan spotted a familiar-looking face in an image from the film, CNET reported. She tweeted her thoughts on who it might be, and The Last Jedi director himself confirmed her theory. When Clair Henry asked if the “cute little creature” in the still was Fisher’s beloved French Bulldog Gary, Rian Johnson responded, “YES! Wow, good eyes.”
— Clair Henry (@irishgeekgirl) December 6, 2017
Gary, who now lives with Fisher’s assistant, has his own Instagram account that confirms his appearance once again.
A long, long … runtime
IGN reports that Johnson, speaking at a Paris press conference, let some juicy details slip regarding The Last Jedi. First, we now know that Episode VIII is slated to be the longest Star Wars film yet, clocking in at a hefty 150 minutes (including credits). Previously, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith held that title, at 140 minutes.
That’s not all. Apparently, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards will be making an on-screen cameo in The Last Jedi. Johnson declined to comment on rumors that Prince William will also appear as a stormtrooper.
Luke speaks out
After intense speculation regarding a potential dark turn for franchise hero Luke Skywalker, actor Mark Hamill shared some details about his role that seemed to clarify — possibly to the point of being a spoiler — what the film has in store for its famous Jedi.
“In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices,” Hamill said in an interview with the Disney Rewards Insider newsletter. “It haunts him to the core. But he hasn’t gone to the dark side. This isn’t an evil version of him. But it’s still an incarnation of the character I never expected. It has pulled me out of my comfort zone. It’s a real challenge.”
Of course, Hamill’s answer is vague enough that it still leaves open the possibility of a darker turn down the road — but now fans have a bit more clarity when it comes to the version of Luke seen in the final moments of The Force Awakens.
A dark future?
Lucasfilm and Disney debuted a considerably darker preview of The Last Jedi during Game 7 of Major League Baseball’s World Series on Wednesday, November 1.
Along with packing in a lot of fresh footage from the film, the television spot — titled Awake — also offered the most ominous tone of all the promotional material released up to that point.
Blink and you miss him
Given that he has appeared in every installment of the franchise so far, it was always assumed that golden protocol droid C-3PO would have a role to play in The Last Jedi, but a Japanese trailer that found its way online in October 2017 finally confirmed it.
The trailer doesn’t offer much in the way of fresh footage, but it does give an easily missed glimpse of C-3PO around the 1:22 mark in the video. The iconic droid will once again be portrayed by Anthony Daniels in The Last Jedi, a role he has played for all seven prior, episodic films and in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
A peek under the hood
A new exclusive video (see below) from USA Today gives us an extended look behind the scenes of Episode VIII, as well as a few new shots that may or may make it into the movie. The affable director Rian Johnson talks about his Star Wars fandom as a child and how that impacted his experience filming The Last Jedi. Cast members Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Mark Hamill (Luke), and more compliment Johnson’s direction, citing his ability to push characters in new directions (Hamill calls the process “a journey of discovery”).
We also get a few choice glimpses at new scenes, including one where Finn is undercover in a First Order base (or something similar) and a scene where Poe is fleeing from a crashing starfighter on the planet Crait. Accompanying the video is an exclusive interview with Johnson; it’s fairly illuminating, and he does hint that Poe might have a future leading the Resistance. Read the full interview on USA Today.
Luke to the dark side?
We don’t think Luke would ever go over to the dark side; after all, he was strong enough to single-handedly (get it?) rebuff Vader’s attempt to sway him at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and in Return of the Jedi he didn’t even consider joining Emperor Palpatine.
— IMAX (@IMAX) October 10, 2017
A theater display from IMAX seems to hint at the unthinkable, however. The walk-through display (which you can see in the tweet above) features two alternate versions of the film’s poster (see below) — one with the “light side” protagonists, and one with the “dark side” antagonists.
On the left, you’ve got Finn, Rey, Leia, Poe, and more, while on the right, Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma take center stage. The interesting thing? Luke appears prominently on both posters — on the left, he looks majestic, with a flowing mane, while on the right, his hood is up, and the shading makes him look a lot more sinister. Could this be a sign? Is it a swerve? We have no idea.
First IMAX poster arrives
Earlier on October 10, we received the first official poster for The Last Jedi (see below). Now, we also have our first look at an IMAX poster, which features a slick digital art style and depicts Luke overseeing Rey’s training on Ahch-To. Check it out:
Official poster unveiled
On October 10, Disney and Lucasfilm released the official cinematic poster for Episode VIII (the one you will see on the wall at your local cineplex), and it’s vintage Star Wars, featuring Luke’s grizzled, hooded face at the top with Rey and Kylo wielding their respective lightsabers and more featured characters below.
We’re not here to make any grand proclamations or read too far into the poster’s design — but we’re happy to report when someone else does! Some fans on Twitter seem to think there is a hidden Darth Vader visage here somewhere; we’re not so sure. Check the tweet below and see if you agree.
Vader looms over the poster pic.twitter.com/1CqafFWOgR
— Star Wars Junk (@StarWarsJunk) October 10, 2017
New trailer, more questions
Lucasfilm and Disney debuted a new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi during halftime of the Monday Night Football broadcast on October 9. The trailer was subsequently posted on the official Twitter account for the Star Wars franchise.
— Star Wars (@starwars) October 10, 2017
The trailer certainly seems to suggest a particular pair of characters as the titular “Last Jedi,” and hints that they’ll need to find common ground if they’re ever going to truly understand the powers at play in their lives. Deceased franchise actress Carrie Fisher is also featured in several scenes, as well as franchise veteran Mark Hamill. Both actors appear to play key roles in Episode VIII that determine the futures of both Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
On Sunday, October 8, the official Star Wars Twitter account shared a short teaser trailer featuring Rey swinging around a blue lightsaber — presumably Luke’s — on Ahch-To, in what appears to be a training exercise (no floating droids or metal blindfolds, though). The teaser hinted at a full-length trailer set to arrive Monday, October 9, during the Monday Night Football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
— Star Wars (@starwars) October 8, 2017
What’s so interesting, you might ask? Well, Rian Johnson — yes, that Rian Johnson, the director of Episode VIII — actually advised fans not to watch the trailer if they’re looking to “come in clean” (that is, to avoid spoilers).
That’s a wrap!
Johnson commemorated the conclusion of post-production on The Last Jedi with a September 22 photo on Instagram featuring the team that worked with him on the final cut of the film.
“Going to miss sitting in dark rooms with these goobers,” wrote Johnson of his post-production team.
About 8,000 words worth of pictures
Empire Magazine has featured lots of Star Wars content leading up to its October issue, which features Rey and Luke in two different covers — one for subscribers, and one for newsstands — both of which you can view below.
This week, Empire also premiered two images from the film, which reveal details that we hadn’t seen much of yet. One shows Finn and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) conversing in Canto Bight, a space casino where the characters are sent on a high-priority mission. It’s no Blips and Chitz, but we do get a glimpse of some pretty cool alien races in the background.
The other photo shows Poe Dameron’s custom X-Wing — called Black One — in action, facing down a massive Imperial destroyer-class vessel. Both images are below.
ScreenRant also posted some images scanned directly from the Empire story; as Empire hasn’t officially released those images online, we won’t post them here, but you can follow links from the tweet below if you’re so inclined.
— Screen Rant (@screenrant) September 7, 2017
Don’t expect to learn Snoke’s backstory
Questions surround the First Order’s mysterious commander, Supreme Leader Snoke, but audiences probably should not get their hopes up for too many answers.
In an interview with Empire, Johnson indicated that the secrecy surrounding Snoke is not only intentional, but likely to continue looming over the events of The Last Jedi — in much the same way The Emperor’s shadow fell over the original trilogy.
“We got the whole story of Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels, but in the original films, he’s exactly what he needs to be, which is just ‘The Emperor,'” explained Johnson. “He’s a dark force: The scary thing behind the thing. That was entirely how I approached Snoke. I wasn’t interested in explaining where he came from or telling his history, except where it serves this story.”
Not all droids have good intentions
September 1 is the second official Force Friday, a merchandising event promoted by Disney and partnering brands and retailers. In recognition of such a momentous occasion, robotics company Sphero officially unveiled the newest addition to its Star Wars line: BB-9E, a black-and-gray, First Order-themed droid in the style of The Force Awakens’ BB-8.
Sphero describes BB-9E as “a rolling menace” (sounds familiar), tasked with starship maintenance for the First Order’s astromech unit. The little droid is mostly identical to BB-8, except for its color scheme (it has a scary red eye) and a differently shaped head. According to Variety, BB-9E will appear in The Last Jedi, though we have not seen any official announcements regarding its role in the film.
The toy itself is water-resistant and it is capable of interacting with Sphero’s other Star Wars droids (there is an R2-D2 model and a BB-8 model) independently. They can also watch the Star Wars movies with you and react accordingly. To see a full list of features, head to the official Sphero site. The BB-9E droid is priced at $150.
New First Order vehicles revealed
A recent episode of The Star Wars Show provides new glimpses of two new transport weapons that will be employed by the First Order in the upcoming Last Jedi film. Both draw clear inspiration from vehicles fans saw being used by Imperial forces in the original trilogy.
The first is the All Terrain Megacaliber Six (AT-M6), which is a clear redesign of the classic AT-AT model fans will remember from the cold weather battle on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. The four-legged transport features a massive forward-facing cannon and folded feet that make it look a bit like a gorilla — a look that has the AT-M6 being called the “gorilla walker” around the web.
The second new vehicle is the First Order Dreadnought, a massive ship that is apparently one of the largest vehicles in any Star Wars installment. The Star Destroyer-influenced ship will reportedly house Emperor Snoke during the upcoming film and features a huge cannon below its pizza-like main body.
A family affair?
According to the seventh entry in Entertainment Weekly‘s Star Wars cover story, Rey (Daisy Ridley) will be learning more about her mysterious background in The Last Jedi. After Luke’s lightsaber triggered a series of flashbacks in The Force Awakens, fans began formulating theories regarding the meaning behind her visions.
And, because Rey is force-sensitive (that’s probably an understatement), speculation ran wild regarding her ancestry. Is she a Skywalker? What about a Kenobi? Well, in Episode VIII, Rey will find out — though she will also find that parentage isn’t everything. “You can always look for answers and that doesn’t mean that the rest of your life is so easy. It’s not like, oh, I know who my parents are so now everything falls into shape, especially in the Star Wars world,” said Ridley.
Given that parents and their children tend to be pretty different in the Star Wars universe — see: Skywalkers, Solos — we believe her. Either way, we’re excited to learn more about Rey in The Last Jedi.
New alien races revealed
The end of The Force Awakens gives the impression that Luke Skywalker had been alone on the ancient planet of Ach-To until Rey, Chewbacca, and R2D2 found him. That’s apparently not the case.
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly includes details on two all-new alien races joining the Star Wars universe in The Last Jedi, The Porg and the Caretakers. Both of the species inhabit Ach-To’s Hebridean islands along with Luke. The Porg are a race of tiny puffin-like furballs that were originally revealed in July during D23. We now have some new images of them, including one of Chewbacca and a tiny Porg buddy in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit.
The other species, the Caretakers, are an all-female, fish-like race of nuns who act as the, er, caretakers of the Jedi temple Luke now inhabits. According to director Rian Johnson, these nuns merely “tolerate” Luke’s presence in their beloved holy site.
While the Porg will be CGI, the Caretakers will be played by human actors.
It’s interesting to note that the Caretakers are yet another group of non-Jedi/Sith Force worshipers, a common element in the recent Star Wars films. We’ve seen other characters like Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One, as well as Maz Kanata and Lor San Tekka in The Force Awakens, represent a devotion to the Force despite a seeming lack of Force-sensitive individuals inhabiting the galaxy. With both Luke and the title of The Last Jedi threatening the end of the ancient order, it’ll be interesting to see if any other new Force factions crop up in the film.
Introducing C’ai Threnali
During 2017’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, Lucasfilm introduced a new character that will debut in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Like the X-Wing fighter pilot Ello Asty from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new character named C’ai Threnali is a male member of the Abednego species and a pilot in the Resistance.
As reported by IGN, C’ai Threnali was introduced as a life-sized character model stationed at The Last Jedi booth amid a re-creation of a Resistance war room. The official description of the character reads as follows: “A skillful fighter pilot of Abednedo descent, C’ai Threnali flies as Poe Dameron’s wingman following the evacuation of D’Qar.”
D23 brings fresh footage
During Disney’s biennial fan event D23 expo, Lucasfilm, and Walt Disney Studios released a behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi that offered some fresh footage from the much-anticipated film.
Along with some new scenes featuring Daisy Ridley’s Rey training with Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the video offers a peek at several explosive scenes with both the New Republic’s Resistance forces and what appears to be the remnants of the Galactic Empire and the rising First Order.
Several other, familiar faces also appear in the video, including John Boyega’s former stormtrooper, Finn, and Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Veteran franchise actor Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) also appears in the video, and in a bittersweet series of scenes, deceased actress Carrie Fisher can be seen in her last performance as General Leia Organa.
New faces, new names, and a look behind the scenes
As part of Vanity Fair’s coverage of The Last Jedi, the magazine released a series of photos of the cast and creative team in May 2017, snapped by celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The photos were accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video that offered a peek at the cast in costume, various sets, and maybe most importantly, more than a few light sabers.
Among the photos released by the magazine are the first, official looks at a few new characters joining the franchise in The Last Jedi.
Among the fresh faces photographed in costume is Benicio Del Toro, who reportedly plays “a shady character of unclear allegiances … who goes unnamed in the film but is called DJ by the filmmakers.”
The magazine’s report also reveals that the new character named Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran, will play one of the biggest new roles in the film. Rose is described as “a maintenance worker for the Resistance” who becomes involved in “a mission behind enemy lines with [John] Boyega’s Finn.”
There’s also a photo of Laura Dern’s character, “a prominent officer in the Resistance named Vice Admiral Holdo.”
More photos and reporting from the magazine’s coverage of The Last Jedi can be seen at the Vanity Fair website.
The first trailer
As many fans (and industry pundits) predicted, Disney and Lucasfilm premiered the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi during 2017’s Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, Florida.
Packed with ominous imagery and suggesting that the time of the Jedi could indeed be nearing its end, the trailer hinted at dark things to come for Rey, Finn, and the rest of the franchise’s current cast of characters.
A big chase
The spies of MakingStarWars.net have been keeping an eye on production, and they’ve seen some interesting things. Based on the website’s intel, there will be an interesting chase scene with Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on horseback. Rumor has it the pursuit will take place on Canto Bight, a gambling-heavy planet, and they’ll be riding on special space race horses called falthiers. Apparently, the chase will culminate in Finn and Rose’s escape to a coffee shop of sorts that the site describes as “like a neon Starbucks.”
That which we call a rose
Fans of the franchise were introduced to Kelly Marie Tran during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando in mid-April, as Deadline reports. We’ll see a lot of the actress in The Last Jedi. Her character, Rose, is a maintenance worker for the Resistance who gets caught up in the action thanks to Finn and Rey (Ridley).
Just starting to get these developed & scanned. A little dark but they came out alright! pic.twitter.com/5EKxuK8Zwz
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) April 28, 2017
Being able to reveal her role was probably a relief to Tran; she initially had to tell her family and friends that she was working on an indie flick in Canada because she was not allowed to tell them she snagged a role in Episode VIII. Oh, the secrecy.
A dark turn?
There have been hints that the Luke Skywalker we know won’t be the one who shows up in The Last Jedi. Ridley hinted at big surprises during the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando.
“Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail,” she said, according to Deadline. “It’s difficult when you meet your heroes, because it might not be what you expect.”
She hinted that the iconic character could be “being challenged or going in a different direction,” and Hamill threw fuel on the fire with similar comments about his character.
“It was as shocking to me to read what Rian [Johnson] had written as I’m sure it will be for the audience,” he said, according to the International Business Times.
An ominous title
All of the speculation regarding the film’s full title was finally put to rest on January 23, 2017, when the project’s official title was revealed to be Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi.
The announcement was made on StarWars.com, and although it answered a long-standing question about the film, it also prompted even more guessing games among fans.
Could the titular last Jedi be Luke? Per Yoda’s dying speech in Return of the Jedi, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.” Maybe the title refers to Rey, who is poised to study under Luke in the upcoming film?
As Jedi is both the singular and plural form of the word, there is a lot of ambiguity in the title. If foreign translations of the title are accurate, however, it seems there will be more than one Jedi in the film. The Spanish translation of the title is Los Últimos Jedi; unlike in English, adjectives in Spanish match the noun they modify in number, and “últimos” is the plural form of the word.
— Star Wars España (@StarWarsSpain) February 17, 2017
The other foreign translations of the title, such as the French and Italian, also use plural adjectives, so the evidence seems overwhelming. Exactly how many Jedi can fans expect to see? For now, we must wait to find out.