Over the weekend, plenty of heavy hitters from the Star Wars universe arrived on the main stage at the ExCel Center outside of London for the epic event known as Star Wars Celebration. One of the more exciting individuals to make an appearance was acclaimed director Rian Johnson, who arrived to talk about the next exciting chapter in the Skywalker saga Star Wars: Episode VIII. He shared several new photos, and we also have video from his panel along with an exciting interview he did afterwards.
Rian Johnson participated in the Future Filmmakers Panel, where Alden Ehrenreich was introduced for the first time as the newer, younger Han Solo. Though, those participating declined to reveal the official title of the Han Solo: A Star Wars Story spinoff. Nor did we get to learn the official Star Wars: Episode VIII title, which may be something Lucasfilm and Disney are still trying to decided on.
What we did learn is that Star Wars 8 will begin literally minutes after Star Wars:The Force Awakens left off, with Rey delivering a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker on the planet Ahch-To. Johnson didn't have any footage to share with the crowd, and he didn't bring an exciting sizzle reel like Rogue One got on Friday. But he didn't arrive completely empty handed. He brought several behind-the-scenes photos from the movie, which will officially wrap later this week, on July 22. So, what exactly is in these latest images?
Instead of an official cast photo, Rian Johnson decided to offer a look at some of the extras and crew members who help flesh out this epic sequel. The main ensemble will be headlined by Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill As Luke Skywalker. John Boyega will reprise his role as Finn in the secondary story being told in this chapter. Adam Drive is returning as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac will be back as Poe Dameron. And Carrie Fisher will reprise her iconic role as General Leia, though she is rumored to be getting less screen time this go-around, with her scenes coming at the beginning of the movie. Speaking about the first black and white image you see below, Rain Johnson only had the most supportive words to share about his extended cast of extras, who you can see here in costume.
In the second photo, we get to see Carrie Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd reprising her character Lieutenant Connix. This image shows off the model creation used to bring one of the new ships to life. Talking about the behind-the-scenes photo, Johnson praised the attention to detail that went into the set design and prop construction, and spoke favorably of all the practical effects work that went into bringing his version of Star Wars to life. The movie does use quite a bit of green screen as well, and the filmmaker only spoke very highly of his team of carpenters and set designers.
The third shot, which arrives in color, shows off the planet of Ahch-To, which is actually Skellig Michael. This is home to the sacred Jedi Temple, where Luke Skywalker has hidden himself away. And it is speculated that this is the location where Luke will train Rey to become a Jedi knight. The fourth photo has Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni, proving just how collaborative all of the current Star Wars teams are, from the movies, to the animated TV shows, and even the books. Lucasfilm has established a very collaborative storytelling process for the Star Wars universe. And here, we see that process hard at work as this team attempts to keep all the continuity through the different mediums intact.
The next images show off the Imperial helmets worn by the First Order. Rian went onto comment on the fact that "The helmets...are much heavier than you think!" The direct went onto confirm that he knows this first hand, because he has a sly cameo in Rogue One under the direction of Gareth Edwards. In that first spinoff, Johnson gets to play an Imperial soldier who pressed a trigger on the Death Star.
The final shot seen below gives us a look at the cockpit of a new TIE fight. Inside, covered by a mask, is Rian's assistant Leo, who volunteered for this acting job. Though, audiences won't be able to see Leo's face. It isn't known when the title of Star Wars 8 may be announced, or when we'll see the first footage, but this may be the last we really hear about the movie until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters this Christmas, as all of LucasFilm and Disney's energy will be on getting that spinoff launched in theaters first. That means we can probably expect to see the first Episode VIII trailer in theaters this Christmas. Take a look at the latest behind-the-scenes images and interviews from this hugely anticipated sequel here.