Star Wars: The Last Jedi Global Press Junket
I was provided an all-expense paid trip to L.A to attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press junket. No additional compensation was received.
What do you get when you combine Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis, Director Rian Johnson, one host and about a couple hundred members of the media? Well, the answer is pretty simple, one amazing Star Wars: The Last Jedi Global Press Junket. The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Global Press Junket was a 45 min of pure geek-out-moment just listening to this amazing cast. Below we will be highlighting some of the things that were said during that not-long-enough-junket-because-I-have-tons-of-questions-that-I-still-want-to-ask. 🙂 So, let’s get started.
The Last Jedi is the sequel to The Force Awakens but it’s also Episode 7 in the Star Wars series. So, what would you say differentiates The Last Jedi from The Force Awakens in the Trilogy? Rian Johnson (the film’s writer and director) and John Boyega ( Finn), Oscan Isaac (Poe), and Daisy Ridley (Rey) chimed in with the below.
RIAN JOHNSON: So yeah, it’s a second movie in the trilogy and I think we’ve been kind of trained to expect it’ll be a little darker and obviously it looks a little darker and the thing is though for me I loved the tone of the original films and also that J.J. captured in The Force Awakens of fun, and that’s like to me it’s a Star Wars movie, you know, first and foremost we were trying to make it feel like a Star Wars movie. And that means you have the intensity and you’ve got the opera, but it also means that it makes you come out of the theater wanting to run in your backyard, grab your spaceship toys and make them fly around, you know, and that’s a key ingredient to it. So we’re going to go to some intense places in the movie but I hope also it’s fun, it’s funny. I don’t know, you’ve seen it.
JOHN BOYEGA: I just think the story’s moving forward. I just feel like J.J. had a blueprint, a foundation of Force Awakens that was pretty good and now it’s about moving forward with the story and just challenging the characters and then all the characters are under intense pressure, and so it’s a time which everyone has their own specific reckoning, and it’s all different. It’s like a lot going on. I’ve only watched it once and the first thing is that I want to watch it again because of the amount of information and Easter eggs in there as well.
OSCAR ISAAC: Yeah, I think the thing as well is that often with the second chapter in a story of three, because the first one kind of sets the tone and the world and the new characters, introduced them, in the second one you don’t have to spend so much time doing that, you can really just delve into the story, into what’s happening, like John said, to the conflict of each of the characters. I think what Rian’s done so incredibly well is that he’s challenged deeply every single character, including the droids, you know, with like the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced, and that’s how you’re able to really get to learn about them, on all sides of the spectrum, from light to dark. You know, it’s like he’s found a way to get to the central point of that character and try to challenge them as best as he can. I think it’s really amazing what he’s done.
DAISY RIDLEY: I mean, the biggest thing for me when I read the script, because you know, even though you’re trying to avoid what people are saying, it’s hard to, and because people responded well to John and I as a team, I was a big nervous about not being a team so much in this one. So I think for me personally it was a challenge. The film was a challenge and I don’t know what it was like for anyone else, but to be in different combinations of people. So in itself, we’re in different situations, we’re with different people that we are learning about, we’re meeting for the first time, so yeah, felt pretty different for me.
Related Post: Gwendoline Christie “Captain Phasma”
Of course, we also had to hear what the “dark side” had to say about The Last Jedi – Gwendoline (Captain Phasma), Andy (Supreme Leader Snoke), any thoughts on just the tone, how this movie distinguishes itself among all the different Star Wars films?
ANDY SERKIS: I mean, I was blown away when I saw the movie. I just was so caught up with it, not least because it was really intimate and very emotional and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I mean, I know obviously that it was going to go that way, but it was very powerful and it touches you and what Rian’s done incredibly is make this dance between these great kinds of epic moments and hilarious antics, literally flipping on a dime and then going right into the heart of these beautiful characters, and you really caring. And I think that was, for me, I think that was my takeaway, it was just an extraordinary viewing.
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: I was delighted by the film and what I was surprised by was that Star Wars has always been – I think the reason why it’s resonated with us all so deeply is that it’s our foundation story of good against evil, and where that balance is, and how we see elements of characters we’ve never seen before, things that can be unexpected. But there is something about this film and I think it’s because the world that we live in is a changing and evolving place, that it retains the simplicity of those elements, but it really resonates with what it is to follow your own human dark narcissistic tendencies, where that will take you, and I love that, and it’s done so beautifully aesthetically too.
Related Post: Laura Dern “Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo”
The Last Jedi is not only the second film in this trilogy, but this film introduces us to new characters the Star Wars universe. We don’t know a whole lot about Admiral Holdo, but we know she’s kind of the new boss. She’s a new leader in the resistance?
RIAN JOHNSON: Yeah, Laura. I’ve been wanting to work with her. And the character that she plays in all of its glorious purple-haired wonder, we were really able to dig in and do some really exciting, fun stuff. And Laura, I know that like the moments on set where like suddenly you would like catch my eye and you would say, this feels like we’re making an independent film, like those were the moments that I was like, yeah, it kind of does, and I think that feels really good and that kind of intimacy of the process, I think. I don’t know. If Laura Dern’s telling you that, then you might be on the right track, I guess.
The next question was definitely something I can relate. Kelly and Laura, were cast in the new roles, but was any part of them that geeks out a little bit when they were working on the film?
KELLY MARIE TAN: Every part. I’m trying not to cry right now ‘cause this is so weird and different. Yeah, I feel like Rian has said this before but it definitely feels like you have to find a way to just do the work and kind of block everything out, but then C-3PO comes up and you’re like oh god. So you’re constantly figuring out how can I figure out how to work in this environment and then you’re like, but also this is awesome. So it’s kind of a balance, right?
LAURA DERN: And just to add to that, what Rian spoke to, that he does so beautifully as well as Andy was describing the intimacy of discovering each character’s conflict, which is just extraordinary, given the enormity of the cast, that he gave us that in the experience of the workplace, and it was shocking, and Oscar and I always talked about just how stunned we were that we were in such a massive environment and did feel like we were, you know, making an indie movie and you were always encouraging us to try things and explore character and explore this duality of the light and the dark within characters, the movie speaks to so beautifully, not just that there are alternative universes but that that lies within, which seems to be the place that George Lucas first started the mythology of that, and it’s just so brilliant. And a group of us sitting together watching it for the first time was amazing ‘cause it was like we were with 3,000 people. We were screaming, standing up, crying.
For those of you wondering what about the visual cues Rian Johnson took from The Empire Strikes Back, here is what he had to say about it.
RIAN JOHNSON: Yeah. Well, I mean, my cinematographer Steve Yedlin who I’ve been best friends with since I was 18 years old, we met in film school, and so to be standing next to each other on the Star Wars set was pretty surreal. But, I think Empire is just the most beautiful – all the films are beautiful – I think for my just tastes. I think the cinematography in Empire is the most gorgeous of the whole series. And so Steve and I looked at the lighting in that it’s also kind of the most – it’s pretty daring in terms of how dark they were willing to go with some of it – literally dark, and how gorgeous they went with some of the choices they made with the shaping of the lighting. But then in terms of an actual visual aesthetic I made a choice very early on that I thought, well, I can either try and kind of copy my idea of what the original movies did, which was much more of kind of a formal, the camera didn’t move a ton and it was a much more formal type visual aesthetic, or you know, we’re going to take visual cues lighting wise and design wise from the previous movies, but I need to just shoot this movie the way that I would shoot a movie, because at the end of the day, if I’m not engaged with it, and I’m not trying to tell the story the way that really makes me excited, then it’s not going to be up there on the screen. So I kind of cut myself loose camera movement wise and shot wise from trying to imitate the past and just try to tell the story as excitingly as I could up on the screen.
Domhnall and Adam’s characters (Hux and Kylo Ren) had a really interesting relationship in The Force Awakens. If you could talk about this relationship, as we enter this film.
ADAM DRIVER: I think it’s definitely there’s a competition and it’s maybe yet to be discovered where that comes from. If anything I think that’s more of a testament to kind of what everyone has been saying of Rian’s inability to not mind a character in every moment, which seems like an obvious thing, but he doesn’t so he knows that spectacle, it won’t mean anything if you don’t care about anything that’s going on, which again, seems very obvious but I think it’s a really hard thing to balance with this many moving parts in the scale of something like this. So I love playing those scenes, especially with Domhnall, ‘cause he’s a great actor and there’s nothing is kind of taken for granted where, oh, this happens and it moves on. If anything, Rian slows the pace and there’s not a moment that’s taken for granted. It’s always broken up into little pieces and the story in our mind comes first before an explosion.
So there are way more female characters in this move, certainly in the first three movies. That’s going to mean a lot to little girls. I want to know what it means to you guys.
DAISY RIDLEY: I think like as a girl growing up in London, obviously I knew there was a disparity in films but I wasn’t so aware of it, like growing up in a liberal household. I was never really made to feel any one way. So when I got involved I didn’t really – like, I knew it was a big deal, but the response was so beyond anything I could have imagined, that I’m still like – it was only afterwards I was like, oh, oh yeah. And it’s not like I ever took it for granted or anything but it was just so monumental, the response and how people felt about it, and obviously that’s a testament to Kathy, J.J., Michael, Larry, everyone who created the characters in the beginning, and I think what’s great about everyone is it’s not like she’s a girl, this is a guy, this is anything, everyone’s just, it’s just great characters that happily are falling into broader categories now, so I’m thrilled. Yeah.
KELLY MARIE TRAN: Yeah, I agree. I think that it feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time. I feel like from the beginning when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice, and I’m so excited that guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt. Every single one is so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
LAURA DERN: I just want to pay tribute to Rian for being one of the most brilliantly subversive filmmakers I’ve ever been able to bear witness to, and in the case of the look of my character, I was moved by the fact that he really wanted her strength to first lead with a very deep femininity and to see a powerful female character also be feminine is something that moves away from a stereotype that’s sometimes perceived in strong female characters must be like the boys. I thought that was a really interesting choice to get to witness.
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: I was so delighted. I wasn’t cast in the first Star Wars film yet when I heard about the casting, and I was utterly delighted to see that there was a more representative selection of actors that were going to be in these incredible Star Wars films, and that has continued. And you know, everything that my amazing colleagues say is absolutely right. You get to see women that are not being strong just because they’re acting like men. They’re doing something else. And also you’re seeing a developed character or at least a developing character, that’s showing some complex character traits. And I’m just delighted about that. I’m delighted that something as legendary as Star Wars has decided to be modern and to reflect our society more as it is.
OSCAR ISAAC: An interesting thing, going back to one of the things about the question about the strong women in the film, because think as a guy I’d like to say that for me the most formative people in my life have been women. And so that has shaped my destiny so much and so to see that reflected in the film is really a beautiful thing, and it does, it is truer to real life and what’s happening now, but what’s always happened which is, they’re the ones that shape you.
As we continue to see the Star Wars story develop, will we see the story through the eyes of the droids (R2-D2, C3-Po, BB8 & BB9eE) or are they just passengers on this adventure?
RIAN JOHNSON: It’s different, and it was different in The Force Awakens, it’s different in this also. We don’t quite have so much the hidden fortress, kind of worm’s eye view of the story that we started with in those movies. And with this, yeah, different story, had different needs, and so we are much more kind of with our leads the whole time.
DAISY RIDLEY: I’ll just quickly add what I think is amazing about the film, is that every character – I like don’t have a big film knowledge or anything. I never understood the structure of what the Star Wars was and what anyone was trying to fulfill. So just as me watching it, I think you really follow the story ‘cause you’re with every character. Everything you need to see is happening on screen, you’re not seeing things happen off screen, that have happened off screen, so people asking questions on screen, they’re getting answers on screen, they’re having their adventure on screen, so you’re with everyone every step of the way. So how the story’s unfolding. And I think it makes for compassionate viewing because you’re really understanding both sides, why people are doing the things they’re doing, and how it’s being fed from everywhere and how things collide and the consequences of people’s actions, how they’re directly affecting other people.
One of the things that Rian has talked about is the theme that’s throughout the movie, all the different storylines, is the perils of meeting your hero and living up to expectations. Is this the moral of this film?
RIAN JOHNSON: That’s definitely one of the things in it. You know, I think these movies to some extent are always about, I don’t know, to really boil it down, you know, if you look back at Lucas kind of, you know, famously drawing from The Hero’s Journey myth that Joseph Campbell wrote about, and the hero’s journey is not about becoming a hero, it’s not about becoming Hercules, it’s about really adolescents, it’s about the transition from childhood into adulthood, and finding your place in the world, and you have these new powers that you’re feeling inside yourself for the first time, you don’t know what to do with them, you don’t know who it is you’re going to get help from, who’s going to be unreliable, who’s not. Navigating those very tricky waters that we all have to navigate, that’s why it’s so universal. So part of that is your relationship to heroes and people you thought were your heroes, people you don’t expect to become your heroes. And that’s definitely something that plays out in this film.
Mark, having played the young farm boy who becomes a hero and now returning to that character all these years later, what arc is left for a guy who’s been through what Luke Skywalker has been through?
MARK HAMILL: I don’t think any line in the script epitomized my reaction more than this is not going to go the way you think. And Rian pushed me out of my comfort zone, as if I weren’t as intimidated and terrified to begin with, but I’m grateful, because you have to trust someone and he was the only Obi Wan available to me, not only in my choices as an actor.
Star Wars feeling like an inde film for the actors? How is the Last Jedi different than any of the other movies?
DAISY RIDLEY: As an actor, I would much more easily draw comparison of similarity, ‘cause like I mean, I’m sort of just speaking for me, that I was like real new to this all, and it was first film and all that sort of stuff. And I’ve done smaller films now this year, and I’m like, genuinely it feels the same, like the sets tend to smaller, we’re shot in Prague instead of London, but like it genuinely it’s a small – not a small feeling, but it’s like that family thing, so going into something could have been really scary and being surrounded by people that make it feel really comfortable for me is like the only thing you can ask for. ‘Cause you can only do what you can do. If you’re in a really safe environment, then you’re able to do more. And coming back like it really felt – it was different obviously in ways ‘cause the story’s different, the characters are being challenged in different ways, but the crew was similar. I think it says a lot about Rian and our first, Jamie, actually, like how a set is run is so incredibly important, and what J.J. and Tommy did first time round, Rian and Jamie did this time, it’s just a really happy set, that everyone feels, I think, heard and respected. And so just like in an acting sense, taking everything away, I think the same feeling was captured of love and of everyone trying to work together to make this thing that hopefully other people will love. So I think to me, in a more emotional way I think it did feel more similar than different.
Obviously, the death of Han Solo is a huge moment in The Force Awakens, and I’m wondering how impactful is that to the characters who knew him in the previous films?
DAISY RIDLEY: I will interject there, and I think this is the beauty of having storylines that are sort of happening in tandem and affecting each other, ‘cause I would say that Rey at least is very much affected by it, and I think like in the What did I say? What did I do? In the first – like, Rey, as a character has been alone for a really long time and she’s really open to like love and friendship, so Finn and BB-8 come along and it’s like this amazing adventure. And then Han, like without trying to, she seeks something from him because there’s an intimacy and there’s a sort of figure of something she’s never dreamed of for her, that gets, you know, snatched away, and she’s understanding everything’s new to her, so she’s understanding things in a different way, and luckily for me, ‘cause I was trying to get to grips with everything going on, and then Rey’s trying to get to grips with everything going on. So for Rey at least there is some time. Everything’s moving forward but she has some time to ask questions and wonder what it is that would have led someone to do something like that, and also how that directly affects the world around her, ‘cause yeah, and then you know, she’s worried about Finn at home, so I would say she’s maybe a little more affected, at least emotionally on screen, than the others.
For a long time, there was really only one woman character, and that was Princess Leia and now General Leia, and of course Carrie Fisher isn’t here with us today. But I wanted to ask the women in this film about the impact that Princess Leia had on generations of young girls who were watching these movies, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of variety for them. What role did Leia play in your life as a young Star Wars fan?
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: Well, she was very significant because I was first shown A New Hope when I was six, and I remember thinking, wow, that character’s really different. I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age but it stayed with me throughout my formative years, of she’s really interesting, she’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold, she doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do. And she doesn’t look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we had been used to seeing. So that was really instrumental to me as someone that didn’t feel like they fitted that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be, that there was inspiration there, that you could be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some sort of terrible, huge compromise. So it was a big inspiration for me. And you know, to play a character as well from what we’ve seen in The Force Awakens, I was very excited when I was shown just the basic element of the costume, and here we were seeing character whereby a woman wasn’t – her femininity was not delineated in terms of the shape of her body, in terms of her physical attractiveness. Those elements, that weird random group of elements which we’re born with in some kind of odd lottery and then we’re judged on in society. And I was just delighted to be able to have that opportunity.
LAURA DERN: Well, endless thoughts and also you know, a profound impact that she made on me as a girl, and spoken so beautifully by Gwen, so I’ll just speak to this present experience, to say that as we always had with Carrie, not just Leia, her wisdom, and you know, people speak about people who are brave or fearless, but beyond that, I’ve known luckily a few people that would hold those descriptions, but not that they would be without shame, and that’s what moved me the most about the icon she gave us, but also what she gave us individually and personally which is to Carrie, who she was so directly and to be without shame, and to share her story, and to expect nothing less from any of us. And the privilege of watching how Rian has so beautifully captured all of that and her grace in this amazing, beautiful, pure performance, but also I think she found an equal irreverent subservice and they had this dance that gives us this performance that I was just so moved by.
DAISY RIDLEY: I don’t think I can really follow that, except to just say Carrie’s daughter Billie is I think all of those qualities. She’s smart and funny and shameless. And I think Carrie bringing up a daughter obviously with Brian, bringing up a daughter who is all of those qualities and then some, in this world, if that’s what she did, you know, just her being her, I think it speaks volumes to what she did as her in the spotlight and also her as Leia.
KELLY MARIE TRAN: Yeah, I mean, I agree with everything that was said. I think that something about Carrie that I really look up to is, and something I didn’t realize until recently, was just how much courage it takes to truly be yourself when you’re on a public platform or when possibly a lot of people will be looking at you, and you she was so unapologetic and so openly herself and that is something that I am really trying to do, and it’s hard. And just like Daisy said, like Laura said, like Gwendoline said, I think that she will always be an icon as Leia but also as Carrie. What an example, you know? And I am so fortunate to have met her and I think that she will really live on forever.
And that concludes our highlights of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Global Press Junket. Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives in theaters everywhere on December 15, 2017.
In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.