The Global Press Event for The Rise Of Skywalker just took place in Los Angeles, and TheForce.net was in attendance. The press conference included: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Richard Grant, Joonas Suotamo, Anthony Daniels, Kathleen Kennedy, Billy Dee Williams, and Keri Russell. It was moderated by director Ava DuVernay.
The cast and filmmakers discussed a myriad of topics revolving around the movie (and Baby Yoda), but we decided to narrow it down to five things that we learned from the press event:
1. Carrie Fisher Is Still With Us:
While discussing how they used Carrie Fisher in this film, director J.J. Abrams was interrupted by a light going out right when he started talking about the lighting with the previous footage. It didn't take long for Abrams to make the connection between the moment and Carrie's spirit making her presence known. "Hi Carrie," Abrams remarked.
2. Poe Dameron will get out of his cockpit:
Although he had a much larger role in The Last Jedi, Poe has spent a lot of time in cockpits or on cruisers and transports. In this film though, it appears he will be directly in the action on the ground, and Oscar Isaac was thrilled with the change. "You really get to see the interaction with the three, and the hope that I think he, in particular, brings in this one. It’s kind of a relentless, almost aggressive optimism that he has, and how that is tested and how he tries to be there for his friends, tries to push them along even when it seems quite hopeless," Oscar said when asked about his role in this one.
3. J.J. was able to use ideas from The Force Awakens:
Intially, J.J. Abrams had no intention to do more Star Wars. Throughout recent interviews, he had indicated that he and Larry Kasdan had some ideas on where the stories could go after VII. After his reunion with the franchise in this film, J.J. stated that they were able to go back and look through their unused ideas for The Force Awakens as well as those initial ideas for where the story could go next.
Many pundits and fans assumed that what Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi had thrown out what Abrams set up, but at the press conference, he set the record straight, "Because we had worked on Force Awakens, we had talked about quite a few things back in the day. So it was a bit of picking up where we left off. And the fact is that what Rian Johnson had done in Last Jedi had set up some things that were sort of wonderful for this story."
4. Keri Russell really got into character:
One of the newcomers in Episode IX is Zorii Bliss. Played by Keri Russell, the character has been somewhat of a mystery thus far. We know she is an old friend of Poe Dameron, and has an interesting past with him, but there isn't much else out there officially.
J.J. Abrams, who has worked with Russell previously, told us she was really in character on set, “Kerri loved the mask so much, that the first two days she worked on set, I never saw her face,” Abrams stated. “She walked on set with her mask on, and wouldn’t take it off. I got to work with her for a few days and never saw her.”
“J.J. called me and said ‘do you want to be in Star Wars?” Russell added. “He told me about the idea of the mask, and I love the mask. It’s a real power play because no one can see what you’re thinking but you can see everyone else. I’ve known J.J. for so long and I feel like we have a shorthand, and I feel like J.J. got to finish a piece of history.”
5. Star Wars is, and will always be, about hope:
This is the final installment in the Skywalker Saga. Star Wars has always been about hope. No matter how dark the situation may seem, hope is what fuels us to do what is right and never give up. Abrams made sure that the theme of hope still remained in the final chapter, “The truth is that there’s the movie that you know you’re presenting to the world, and then there’s the thing that you’re doing not necessarily secretly, but meaningfully. We live in a crazy world. We live in a crazy time. Star Wars, for me, was about hope. And it was about community and the underdog, and it was about bringing people together and seeing all oddballs represented and the most unlikely friends in the most unlikely places, and the family that you make is really your family. To tell a story that is of course a giant spectacle[with blockbuster wrapping, the thing that mattered to me most – more than all the spectacular, unbelievable, I would argue best work that ILM has ever done, all the departments going beyond expectations – the thing that matters most and only in the film is the people who are sitting here and what you’re watching and the eyes of the characters and the heart of the characters."
The Rise Of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th, and this will be the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga.
Brian Ballance contributed to this report.
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