Here’s a few little gems of information to tide you over until Rogue One hits later this year (We did a whole piece on the trailer!)
First off we’ve got J.J. Abrams talking Episode 7, on why it retreads some (OK, quite a lot) of the same beats of Episode IV and why Mark Hamill was initially hesitant on joining the cast.
Here’s some quotes from the director himself speaking at the Tribeca Film Festival. Commenting on the similarities between TFA and Episode IV, Abrams said the following:
“This movie [The Force Awakens] was a bridge and a kind of reminder; the audience needed to be reminded what Star Wars is, but it needed to be established with something familiar, with a sense of where we are going to new lands, which is very much what 8 and 9 do.”
“The weird thing about that movie is that it had been so long since the last one. Obviously the prequels had existed in between and we wanted to, sort of, reclaim the story. So we very consciously – and I know it is derided for this – we very consciously tried to borrow familiar beats so the rest of the movie could hang on something that we knew was Star Wars.”
J.J. has some good points here and to be fair, this film is targeted to two types of people. The first are complete newcomers who’ve never seen a Star Wars before and so J.J. borrowed familiar elements so that these people truly understand what a Star Wars film is all about. We’d hate people growing up thinking the dreaded prequels were a fair representation of what Star Wars is, right? So really he’s been tasked with doing a reboot and a sequel all in one, a ‘requel’ if you will (maybe not), much like he did so successfully with the Star Trek franchise. Secondly, he had to appeal to those of us who loved the originals but only had the prequels to keep us going for 30 or so years (the horror!). So he had to re-introduce us to what Star Wars is and instil that back into this universe. He did a pretty good job in my opinion. The familiar beats didn’t detract at all away from the film and even enhanced it in some scenarios. He did a fantastic job of recapturing that essence of Star Wars while introducing new, interesting characters at the same time.
“So all the characters – the Stormtrooper who turns, Finn played by John Boyega, and Rey, the character that Daisy plays, the Scavenger, Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia, and Poe the pilot – all these were characters and sort of their roles in the story needed to exist in something that predates them.”
One of my favourite aspects of the film, Finn and Rey’s relationship, very nearly wasn’t what we got in the end product.
“When I was on the set of the Millennium Falcon and we started to do work with Rey and Finn, the first time we did it, it didn’t work at all,” explains Abrams. “It was much more contentious. I didn’t direct it right. It was set up all wrong, and when Harrison Ford got injured – which was a very scary day – we ended up having a few weeks off, and it was during that time that I really got to look at what we had done and rewrite quite a bit of that relationship. So when we came back to work again, we actually just reshot from the ground up, those scenes. It was an amazingly helpful thing to get these two characters to where they needed to be.”
It’s funny how these things turn out.
As well as this, Abrams was talking about how Mark Hamill was initially hesitant to join the cast of TFA.
“We knew that getting to Luke was the whole story, and I was desperate to do the next chunk that we knew would not fit into this one movie. But, we knew that we had that ending, but it was a frightening and tricky thing to do, but at first and in all honesty, Mark Hamill was a little resistant.”
“Imagine reading Star Wars, imagine being Mark Hamill and you get the script for the new Star Wars. ‘Oh the opening is good, page two, oh, three and so on – what the f**k is the going on, I’m three pages before the end, the last page, what?’ He was so kind to do it, and at first he was like, ‘Will it seem silly, will it be a joke that he is standing there?’ I said to him, ‘I don’t think it will.’ I said because the whole movie is about that, it could be a great fun drum roll, up to seeing this guy.”
And it was great, thanks J.J!
“Hamill was the exact same age as Alec Guinness was when he played Obi-Wan. I’m looking at him in the robes, and with the John Williams music, I start to tear up, and I know that this ending could really work.”
It’s all in the eyes….
Next, we’ve got Poe Dameron himself, Oscar Isaac, chatting about Episode VIII which is currently filming under Rian Johnson. Isaac was talking to the LA times.
“Rian is definitely going to places and investigating things that haven’t really been done in the Star Wars universe”
“For me, it’s so fun getting to explore different things that I wouldn’t have expected in this universe. In some ways it feels like we’re making an independent film. Certain things we get to play with – this kind of intimacy that we get to find – it’s special. It’s been really fun”.
Well that’s certainly interesting! Given that Poe was originally killed off in TFA, before J.J. gave him a second chance, I’m excited to see where Poe’s journey goes in episode VIII. It’s also good to hear that after J.J. gave us ‘more of the same’ we’re getting a bit of a departure into the unknown. Besides, imagine if it was the same as Empire, the internet couldn’t handle that.
Episode VIII is set to land December 2017, after being pushed back six months, with Rogue One arriving December 2016.