Highlights from the Star Wars : The Last Jedi Press Conference
Star Wars fans know that on Sunday December 3rd there was a super secret press conference for Star Wars : The Last Jedi. The entire cast and press from all over converged on the secret location to share about the most anticipated film of the year. Those in attendance heard exclusive interviews, got a short sneak peek at the movie, a behind the scenes look, but of course no spoilers! I still cannot believe I was there and I am thrilled to share the highlights of that press conference.
The entire cast was in attendance. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Domnhall Gleeson, and Mark Hamill all returned from The Force Awakens. New additions Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran were also in attendance. Noticeably absent was the late Carrie Fisher, but she was close to everyone’s thoughts. The cast seemed like family and thrilled to be part of this epic film! Anthony Breznican moderated the group.
Here were some of the best questions and answers from the event!
Anthony : So Rian, what would you say differentiates The Last Jedi from The Force Awakens, but also the Empire Strikes Back as a second chapter in a trilogy?
Rian : First of all, thank you guys for all coming. This is very, very exciting. 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.
Anthony (to John Boyega): How would you say this film feels different from The Force Awakens? What sets it apart from that film?
John : 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 – hey, it was, it was good – and now it’s about, you know, 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 : 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.
Anthony then set his questions to the ‘bad guys’ – he asked how the tone of this film distinguishes itself from the others. There were the responses from those who play the villains of the cast.
Andy Serkis : 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 powerful and it touches you and what Rian’s done incredibly is make this dance between these great kind 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 has my takeaway, it was just an extraordinary viewing, you know.
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.
Domhnall Gleeson revealed he did not go to the screening with the rest of the cast. He says he wants to view it with fans for the first time.
Anthony then asked about the newcomers. Rian responded that he felt like the new boyfriend brought to Thanksgiving. Ha! When he asked new cast members Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran if anything about the film made them ‘geek out’ they both responded that “Every Part” made them geek out.
Kelly Marie Tran : 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 a 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.
When questions opened up to the press things got interesting. Of course there would be no spoilers… but you can’t blame folks for trying.
Press : My question’s for Mark Hamill. With Luke training Rey in this movie, it seems like he’s in the position Yoda was with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. Is it sort of like when your parents say you’ll understand when you’re older? Does he finally learn some of Yoda’s lessons now that he’s the teacher?
Mark : Well, you’re assuming that I train Rey.
(this isn’t his first rodeo, press guy.)
Press : What about the visual cues from The Empire Strikes Back really spoke to you?
Rian : 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 mean, I think Empire is, you know, I think it’s just the most beautiful – I mean 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 like 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 I realized, you know, we’re going to take visual cues lighting wise and design wise from, you know, 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.
Press : 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.
(The responses were amazing)
Daisy : I think 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.
Kelly Marie : 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 : 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.
Gwen : 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.
Press : How is this film different?
Once again, Mark Hamill has no time for this and shuts it down.
Mark : It’s longer.
Someone didn’t get the memo that it is 2017 and women are not interested in stupid questions about their looks. When a journalist pointed out Daisy Ridley’s lipstick was dark she (and the rest of the cast) was having none of it. It is possible he was seeing if this was a hint at story line. Cast members were dressed in black or white that corresponded with being on the dark side or the light side. Perhaps he thought he was seeing a hint at the dark side? I don’t know, in any event, don’t ask those questions guys, those days are behind us.
I wanted to share a clip from my favorite moment in the entire Star Wars : The Last Jedi Press conference. Here is a quick video of the women in the cast being asked about what Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher meant to them. My apologies in advance for the film quality.
After the Press Conference we were able to check out an entire floor of amazing Star Wars : The Last Jedi products, memorabilia, and more! Check out all of the other fun stuff we saw at Star Wars : The Last Jedi Press Day!
Star Wars : The Last Jedi opens in only TWO DAYS on December 15th! Make sure to check out the trailer below and purchase your tickets through Fandango! Skip the lines ensure you have a seat waiting for you, and support our little site by purchasing through our links at no additional cost to you!
Oh my goodness, it must really have been hard for those actors that spent time with Carrie Fisher to speak about it. It was really interesting to hear their thoughts about her and the Leia character. Very touching!