The curtain is finally being pulled back on Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The highly guarded project’s panel Friday at Star Wars Celebration promises to unveil secrets from the film. If you aren’t lucky enough to be in Orlando, you can watch the festivities live. Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and director Rian Johnson will welcome special guests from a galaxy far, far away.
Inside the room, the excitement was palpable for fans who had been sleeping on the sidewalk in preparation. Josh Gad kicked off the ceremony as host — a fun inside joke for fans, as Gad has been posting videos of him bugging Daisy Ridley (Rey) for Last Jedi spoilers.
“I am here because Daisy Ridley forced my hand,” said Gad.
Then Johnson and Kennedy came out to big applause.
“He has an amazing uniqueness to what he does. He also writes as beautifully as he directs, which is quite incredible. He writes amazingly fierce and independent women,” said Kennedy.
Johnson paid tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, revealing she helped him work on dialogue.
“I just adore her and I connected first and foremost with her as a writer. She’s a brilliant writer. An incredible mind. I’d go to her house and I’d sit on her bed for hours and go through the script,” said Johnson. “I’d just scribble on my script everything she said, and at the end of six hours there would be a four-word line of dialogue that was a distillation of all of that.”
Next, Ridley herself came out to a standing ovation that began before she even had hit the stage. She was able to drop the first breadcrumbs of where her character Rey goes next.
“In The Last Jedi, we go deeper into Rey’s story,” said Ridley. “And what is very apparent from where we left of in The Force Awakens … is Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail. … it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect.”
BB-8 rolled out, but declined to reveal who The Last Jedi is. Johnson said the best advice he got was from Force Awakens editors who said, “You can’t have enough BB-8.”
Soon after, John Boyega came out to big applause spoke about where we pick up with Finn, following his serious injury in a lightsaber battle at the end of the last film.
“It’s been painful. It’s been a process. Finn definitely stood up for himself at the end of Force Awakens and caught a bit of an injury to the back. So he’s in recovery, but he’ll definitely be back in The Last Jedi, and he’s not playing this time.”
“In The Last Jedi, it’s a test for all the characters, but specifically for Finn. He wants to find his place now,” said Boyega. “Is he going to be a part of the resistance or is he going to keep running away from The First Order? We’ll see.”
Speaking of the first order, Johnson also shared details of what is going on with The First Order following the destruction of Starkiller base in Force Awakens.
“Starkiller Base, a big loss. A big loss. But they did manage to take out the seat of the Republic. That’s sent the galaxy into chaos and the First Order is jumping on that very aggressively … things are going to get dire.”
The director also brought out a new member to the cast, Kelly Marie Tran, who revealed she told her family she was doing “an indie movie in Canada,” because she was unable to tell them she was in Last Jedi for four months.
She also revealed the first details of her character.
“My character’s name is Rose. She’s part of the Resistance. And she works in maintenance and I just can’t wait for you to meet her,” said Tran.
Johnson said she’s not looking to be a hero, but she gets pulled into the adventure in a big way.
When Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill came out, he admitted he’d had anxiety about trying to tempt fate by capturing lightning in a bottle for a second time, telling Johnson early on he was “terrified.”
“You know what he said? ‘So am I,’ ” said Hamill. “That’s a director I can love.”
He also opened up about Luke’s story.
“To a certain extent it’s not Luke’s story anymore. But I think he’s an important part to the overall arc of the saga and again, there’s a lot of mystery about him, even within the film. You have to fill in your own backstory,” said Hamill.
Kennedy broke in: “He is so significantly important to this next film. Mr. Modesty!”
Johnson next unveiled the first poster and trailer for the film.
— Star Wars (@starwars) April 14, 2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens Dec. 15.