With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hitting theaters soon and several other “Star Wars” projects in the works, Disney held a secret Star Wars press junket in Los Angeles Sunday to promote the upcoming film. Like everything Disney does, the junket was a huge event and members of the press were treated to a panel featuring stars Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, and newcomers Kelly Marie Tran and director Rian Johnson.
The panel addressed questions from the audience including whether Ewoks would make a return (“It depends on what drugs you take,” Johnson said) and how Han Solo’s death would affect the story and greater Star Wars universe.
Both Boyega and Isaac stressed the breakneck pace of the conflict and the characters’ inability to take time and grieve.
“I think we’re just keeping it moving, to be honest with you man. The pressure’s on. There’s no time. I think that’s one thing that’s unique to me, about watching this movie, was the commentary on war,” Boyega said. “There hasn’t been a Star Wars movie, yet, that has explored war in the way ‘The Last Jedi’ does. It’s very messy. The categorizing of good and evil, it’s all mixed together. In terms of Han, I’m sure we all feel sentimental if someone was to sit Finn down or Rey down. But Rey’s off training, she’s got stuff to do. I got a back injury, I’ve got stuff to do. Can’t think about Han at the moment.”
However, Ridley stated that the death is much more significant to her character Rey, who had been alone for most of her life and had just begun to form a friendship and sense of intimacy with the iconic space smuggler.
The cast also addressed the increased presence of women in the Star Wars universe. Dern said that she found Johnson’s commitment to breaking negative female stereotypes and creating characters that were both strong and feminine to be particularly moving. Serkis, speaking as his character the evil Supreme Leader Snoke, said that the the increase of strong women in the universe is a threat to his evil plans and could not be allowed to continue.
“The Last Jedi” is also marked with the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher, who played Princess/General Leia Organa. The female cast members spoke about how Leia and Fisher inspired them by demonstrating courage, intelligence, and strong sense of identity.
“I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age but [Leia] really stayed with me throughout my formative years,” Christie said. “She doesn’t care what people think and isn’t prepare to be told what to do….That was really instrumental to me as someone who didn’t feel like I fit in that homogenized view of what a woman is supposed to be and there was inspiration there.”
The event also featured demonstrations and first looks at new merchandise from a galaxy far, far away like toys based on the new porg creatures, technology- and engineering-based toys, and apparel. Star Wars is doubling down on virtual reality content and featured demonstrations of the new “Star Wars Jedi Challenges” VR set, which let participants duel with Darth Maul.
Attendees were also given a look at some of the costumes from the film, including the new Praetorian Guard armor, concept art from Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” theme parks, behind the scenes photos from “The Last Jed,” and a chance to interact with the BB-8 droid.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” lands in theaters on Dec. 15.