Star Wars – The Force Awakens: Everything We Know So Far
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – well, January 2013 in Hollywood – a new Star Wars film was announced.
Now 36 months later, we are unbelievably just a week away from seeing the end product, which feels like the perfect time to throw down everything we know about Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Here goes:
I | The Story Is New, But Will Hark Back To The Original Trilogy
We’ll talk in facts: Episode VII will be set 35 years after the events of Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983, and the film will follow a band of new characters as well as a host of familiar faces (more on that below). Aside from having a sense that events will correlate to those depicted in George Lucas’ original two trilogies, it seems we’ll have to wait until release day for full intel on the plot.
II | The Cast Is Huge
29th April 2014 was the day when that photo proved there actually was a new Star Wars film happening AKA Christmas Day for fans. So what do we know about these characters? And who’s playing them?
Well, John Boyega will play a stormtrooper named Finn – a good one, apparently – while newcomer Daisy Ridley (in her first film appearance save for an Inbetweeners 2 deleted scene) will play Rey, a scavenger who may or may not be Han Solo and Leia’s daughter (more on that below too). Elsewhere, Oscar Isaac will complete his rise to the elite by playing Poe Dameron, a pilot sent on a mission by a certain aforementioned bun-haired Princess; the fact his character was named after the toy polar bear of director JJ Abrams’ kid posits him as our early favourite.
It’s down to Girls actor Adam Driver to channel his inner Darth. He’ll be playing Kylo Ren, the shrouded dude seen wielding that crossguard lightsaber in the trailer. As the leader of a new faction known as the First Order – reconfigured by surviving members of the Empire – he’s basically a masked copycat obsessed with Darth Vader (feast your eyes on the mask that’ll cause sleepless nights to all eight-year-olds above).
Assisting Driver in utilising the dark side of the force is nice-guy-no-more Domhnall Gleeson who’ll play General Hux, Ren’s primary leader, and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones‘ Brienne of Tarth) who will do more than standing around and looking at a tower when playing Captain Phasma.
Excitingly, the old crew will be joining the party. Judging by a leaked photo which was sharply removed by Disney honchos, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) now appears to have gone all Obi-Wan Kenobi, wearing robes and growing a beard, while Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) – now, confirmed by Abrams, General Leia – shows up having exhumed the lightsaber of their dead father, Darth Vader (we’re gonna assume 35 years is long enough to render spoiler alerts useless).
While these two are likely to be cameos, it’s Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) – who both caused wookie-sized palpitations when appearing together in the second teaser in April – that will have elevated roles. R2-D2 and C3-P0 are also along for the ride so expect droid bickering aplenty.
The Best Of The Rest:
There’s still a large number of the cast whose character’s motives haven’t yet been fully revealed. Max von Sydow is in there (he’s just joined Game of Thrones too. Check him), as is 12 Years a SlaveOscar winner Lupita Nyong’o who’ll play a pirate-of-sorts called Maz Kanata (which is really fun to say). Joining them in unspecified roles are long-time Abrams collaborators Greg Grunberg andSimon Pegg (glimpsed in this behind-the-scenes video) as well as Indonesian martial artists Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruihan, best known for The Raid films. Oh, and Andy Serkis too in a non-CGI role – and you thought the ensemble was already packed.
IV | The Franchise Is In The Safest Of Hands
JJ Abrams – officially established as the film director equivalent of a really crafty illusionist – is the man behind the camera so it’s small surprise that cards have been played close to the chest (he did create Lost, after all – a TV series, might we add, laden with Star Wars references). Considering he’s working alongside Kathleen Kennedy – Spielberg’s producing aide whose credits include both Indiana Jones and Back to the Future – and The Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, in safe hands consider the force (only works in a Yoda voice, that).
V | There Are Films Mapped Out Until 2020
The Force Awakens is the first of a new trilogy with both Episodes VIII and IX due to be released every other year from now. Abrams will be abandoning Millenium Falcon and passing the lightsaber (last one, promise) onto Rian Johnson (Brick; that Breaking Bad fly episode) and – fresh from Jurassic World success – Colin Trevorrow.
First up for the spin-offs – which’ll arrive in the intervening years – is Rogue One, Gareth Edwards’ prequel (pictured above) following rebels who unite to steal plans for the Death Star (which featured in A New Hope). Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed and Ben Mendelsohn will star. In 2018, we’ll be treated to a Han Solo film showing the rebel pilot in his younger years, while the 2020 spin-off is yet to be announced – but swirling rumours suggest it could be an Obi-Wan film. All we really want, though, is a Yoda prequel. Move over, Marvel.
VI | The Poster Is On Another Level…
…and confirms a few things: firstly, that Harrison Ford will be a lead alongside Boyega and Ridley and secondly, that Boyega’s character Finn – despite at one time dabbling in the stormtrooping trade – is definitely a Jedi; he’s holding a blue lightsaber, see. It means you’re good. For example, past people to have owned a blue lightsaber include Obi-Wan, young Anakin and us when we were nine. Which is exactly the age we’ll be feeling every December for the next five years, thank you.
VII | It’s going to be a family affair
Long-gestating rumours have been swirling Rey’s heritage with many believing Ridley’s character to be Han and Leia’s daughter. After rewatching the trailers an unhealthy number of times (we’re excited, alright?), it seems that fans may just have worked this one out. In the trailers, we hear Nyong’o's Maz Kanata ask Rey, “Who are you?” to which she replies, “I’m no one.” Now watch this TV Spot; Kanata’s voiceover says, “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes, I know your eyes.” It’s not a stretch to imagine these exchanges to be part of the same conversation – and judging by the trailer’s close ups of both Han and Rey, we’re giving this theory the greenlight. Until Abrams pulls the rug from under as all and reveals her to be the spawn of Jabba.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released on 17 December
- – -
As published on esquire.co.uk