Over the weekend, director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy descended upon the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in theaters December 18. While the filmmakers didn't have any new footage to show fans, they did debut the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster, designed by legendary poster artist Drew Struzan. After the presentation, J.J. Abrams spoke to the press, revealing to Collider that Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma is his favorite new character in this highly-anticipated adventure.
"I can only say that Gwendoline Christie is my favorite. She just killed it. You think, 'Well, what? It's wearing a costume.' But it's a lot to wear and to have a performance when you're wearing that requires a different kind of skill set and an additional talent, and she's got it. It's an incredible thing to work with her. I am glad that a character has been designed that is visually as stunning as that is, because she deserves it and the fans do to. When I first saw that design my mind was blown because it looked so undeniable."
It was also confirmed during the convention that Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has been set to take the helm on Star Wars: Episode IX, which is set for release sometime in 2019. Unfortunately, no plot details for this final sequel were revealed, but J.J. Abrams was asked if he had any advice to share with Colin Trevorrow. Here's what the filmmaker had to say.
"Colin doesn't need my advice, he's going to kill it. But I will say that he is going to be spoiled by this remarkable cast and incredible crew. I'm jealous that he gets to work with them, because they're terrific, all of them."
During Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Comic-Con panel last month, the filmmakers debuted a special behind-the-scenes video, which made it clear that the filmmaker was committed to getting as much "in camera" as possible, without relying on VFX environments or characters. The director revealed there will still be a plethora of CGI shots, but he felt it was important that they only used CGI when it was absolutely necessary. Here's what the filmmaker had to say about the importance of practical effects.
"Obviously it's Star Wars and there are going to be thousands of CG shots in this movie, but it was really important to us that wherever it didn't need to be, it wasn't. It's incredible how much gets sort pushed off to solve later. We'll shoot it on blue and figure it out later. We'll shoot it on green and we'll make this up later. It was really important for a sense of authenticity that the set be built, the exterior, interior, that we go to real locations that were actually in the sun. I know it sounds silly, but in the behind the scenes reel you see this giant gimbal of the Millennium Falcon cockpit and it was outdoors. The reason we did it - we didn't have to do that, but the reason we wanted to was, you just can't fake sunlight. You can do a pretty good imitation, but you can just tell. There was something about wanting to see Daisy's character actually sitting in the cockpit with sunlight streaking across in motion. It's a little detail and I'm not sure anyone's going to care abut that, but it's an incredible thing when you see it just how much better it looks because it's real. So we just tried to do that as much as we could and it was often challenging but it was worth it."
The director also spoke about everyone's favorite Wookie, Chewbacca, portrayed by Peter Mayhew, who got so many hugs on the set that the costume department was constantly working to replace the fur. Anytime someone would visit the set, they would inevitably hug Chewbacca, which took a toll on the costume itself. Here's what the director had to say about the costume department's tireless efforts.
"There were these amazing people in the costume department who were sitting and punching in the hair - they literally take a needle that has the round part cut off and using it to punch in one hair at a time. They sit there for weeks at a time to finish the arm. It's an incredibly time consuming job, and it seems like a thankless job, but I kept trying to thank them because they were doing such an amazing job. You can't deny Chewbacca, so people were just constantly - whoever would visit the set or be there, even some extras, before the day was over they would go over and embrace Chewbacca. It was an ongoing thing, and one of the casualties was patches of hair on the suit."