It’s here. The Last Jedi Trailer.
But while fans everywhere are salivating over the new trailer, Director Rian Johnson and company had a lot to reveal to fans at The Last Jedi Panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando.
The following is a full recap of the incredible panel by Star Wars Report Executive Editor Bethany Blanton (@BethanyLBlanton)
Photos by Bailey Scent and Gio Güechá.
All quotes are approximate, and please forgive any shorthand.
The panel began for us entering the Galaxy Stage about an hour prior to the panel beginning. The crowd was electric, excited, and working on finding their seats. DJ Elliot and Mark Daniel were hyping up the crowd, doing costumed dance contests, and hosting lightsaber battles on stage.
Present was an awesome gathering of good Star Wars friends Riley, William, Steele, Sean, Tricia, BJ, Teresa, Aaron, Richard, Sarah. Follow all of them on twitter!
Que a bunch of shameless selfies.
I guess you could say we were excited.
Josh Gad was the host! Olaf himself walked on stage as the host of the event in the wake of his instagram inquiry series where he’s famously been pestering Daisy Ridley for TLJ spoilers’
Josh: (JG) How exciting is this!?! I warned Daisy we could do this the easy way or the hard way…. And she chose the hard way. Clearly I didn’t have a choice, so we’re here to do it the hard way. I’m only here because Daisy Ridley forced my hand by not answering my questions on Instagram. This is amazing! This is my first time at SWCO, and I’m so excited!!! If I wasn’t up here, I’d be down there with you. My Star Wars obsession goes back to when I was four and I watched Episode 4, and then when I skipped an entire day of school to see The Empire Strikes Back. We skipped another day of school to watch the movie three times in a row. Then I was invited to the Star Wars [The Force Awakens] premiere two years ago which was amazing. Even cooler than that was sitting in the El Capitan theater watching the entire saga in a row. There is nothing like that kind of anticipation that everyone was feeling, and you can feel that now in this room as we get ready to talk about what’s next, The Last Jedi. What does it mean!? We have answers and the audience has questions. Next, please welcome Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson!
JG: What’s been going on in the Star Wars universe Kathy??
Kathleen Kennedy (KK): Not much!! Well, we’ve done a lot in Star Wars. We took a bit risk with Rogue One, and I wanna thank everyone for showing up and showing out.
JG: Before we jump into The Last Jedi Rian, you did something cool last night. What was it?
*The crowd in the room, most of whom stayed overnight, gave a standing ovation.*
KK: Everyone was up until three in the morning! We wanted to go out to see familiar faces, so we went out to see them last night! (Rian and Co. visited those waiting overnight in line)
Rian Johnson (RJ): I started… well coming out last night to meet all you guys and feeling the positivity and encouragement, getting to know you guys, wow. Thank you. This is the best fan family in the world.
JG: So now we have the pleasantries out of the way. Where are we with The Last Jedi?
RJ: It’s coming along; it’s now all coming together.
JG: Kathy, what does Rian bring as far as a new style for Star Wars?
KK: He is on his way to stand alongside many of the great filmmakers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He has an amazing uniqueness to what he does. He also writes as beautifully as he directs. He writes amazingly fierce and independent women, and he has a great sense of humor, which everyone in this room knows is so important to Star Wars.
RJ: Wow, I should just leave now, it’ll be all downhill from here after that introduction!
JG: Tell us about the history of this film.
RJ: We had such a great time shooting this. It was my first time at Pinewood Studios, which was kind of like a Camelot to me. Bond movies were shot there, and it added to this magical experience.
JG: I’ve shot things there, and even for other movies the crews just want to talk about Star Wars being filmed there. Rian, I saw you were in Ireland on social media. Are the locals there amazed by all this? Are the kids like ‘look dad there’s Luke Skywalker and I can’t possibly to do my homework now’?
RJ: To anyone in Ireland watching, we miss you guys. You were so welcoming to us, and you had so much love for us. We shot beautiful such landscapes there.
JG: I heard you took a lot of pictures on set?
RJ: I realized I had a front row seat for behind the scenes stuff. I was the only person who could take photos on set besides the designated photographer without getting tackled, so I had a camera the entire time and took thousands of pictures throughout the whole process.
*try to find these photos*
RJ: It was so fun, at the end of the whole experience, just to have all these memories captured.
JG: So the entire film was shot in black and white??
RJ: Yeah! Don’t tell Disney!
JG: We all miss and love the great Carrie Fisher. Yesterday I watched the tribute panel and I bawled, and then John Williams came out on the stage and I fell on the floor. What was it like for you guys to develop the Princess, now General, Leia?
KK: Carrie is remarkable in the movie. What Rian wrote, and the performance she gave, you’re going to find that an amazing tribute to her talent.
RJ: Carrie… I mean, it was such an amazing tribute yesterday. I love her; she’s a brilliant writer and an incredible mind. I’d go to her house and sit on her bed for hours, and we’d have stream of consciousness ad lib poetry session that I would write down madly trying to keep up.
JG: She truly was ahead of her time and led the way for strong, empowered women. Speaking of strong women… Two years ago we were introduced to a new heroine. Please welcome Daisy Ridley!!
Daisy Ridley (DR): My heart is pounding, thank you so much!!
JG: Daisy, daisy, daisy, daisy… I would love to put the past behind us. It’s not about my questions any more, it’s about there’s. *gestures to the audience* You don’t owe me anything, but they seem like an aggressive crowd and there are millions of them!!
JG: Are you and Luke related by blood?? Are you a Skywalker? Is your name Rey Skywalker? Rey Kenobi?
DR: That’s actually a popular theory!!
JG: But who doesn’t know their own last name, really!? Daisy, did you enjoy working on The Last Jedi?
DR: You know I can actually tell you some things! In The Last Jedi we go deeper into Rey’s story. What is apparent in The Force Awakens is that she has expectations of meeting Luke, but meeting your heroes, well, it’s not always what you expect. We had the most incredible time on the island. It was very nerve wracking going back. The first time I was kind of bumbling around, but coming back the second time I felt so much responsibility because I felt like I should already know what I was doing. But Rian’s writing is great and we had a beautiful time shooting it.
JG: As a father of two girls, I feel incredible about all these strong, female characters in SW! What is it like coming two years later after Celebration Anaheim, what is it like knowing you’re a part of this history now?
DR: People kept congratulating me, but it was really those who created Rey, the writers, Kathleen Kennedy, and more. I can see people wearing my costume, and I’m like oh my god this is real!
RJ: Daisy is a great actor playing Rey, but so many people respond to the character. The tenacity, bravery, humor: so many of the things kids want to be like in Rey – those things are Daisy!
JG: By the way, my daughter’s favorite action figure is the Rey doll. What are you most excited about to reveal in The Last Jedi?
Daisy: What we’re all excited about! Luke’s. First. Words!!
JG: Now, after a very successful screen debut, please welcome BB-8! Hey buddy! I’ve been studying droid Rosetta Stone! Hey can I call you just “Eight”?
*At this point in the panel Josh Gad started reading BB-8’s answers for him.*
BB-8: Unlike Daisy, I have a full name please, so use it.
JG: See Daisy, some people give me their names without begging them! BB-8, who is the last Jedi?
DR: Don’t do it BB-8!!
RJ: No BB-8!!
BB-8: Should I get my publicist? My lawyers?
JG: Well, you’re talking lawyers now, so we’ll move on.
JG: BB-8 is one of my favorite characters in film. The physical comedy was great, like the lighter thumbs up in The Force Awakens. Are there new developments with him?
RJ: Oh yes. JJ’s team told us there is no such thing as too much BB8, and we listened to them.
JG: And next, please welcome John Boyega!
JG: I mean, John, the fans love you!!
JB: It’s good to be back!! This is crazy! Two years is awesome!
JG: When we last saw you in The Force Awakens, you weren’t in good shape. What’s up with that?
JB: He’s in recovery, but he’ll be back into play in The Last Jedi.
JG: One of the clearest memories of you I have is seeing you jump up and down seeing The Force Awakens trailer. How does all of this now make you feel?
JB: We have all of these people involved. It’s feels fantastic and crazy to be so far away from The Force Awakens and so close to the new one.
JG: You and Daisy kind of had this meteor rise coming up. Do you ever call each other and say
‘what’s up cultural icons?’
JB: Well we talk on different sets and stuff, but it’s good to be back home (implied to Star Wars and Celebration).
JG: Unfortunately Oscar can’t be here with us today. But does that relationship continue to blossom in The Last Jedi?
JB: Yes absolutely! We go on adventures together. For Finn he needs to find out if he’s still going to be in the Resistance, or the First Order. It’s a story for him….
JG: Speaking of the First Order….
*shows photos of darksiders* Does the First Order have to go back to the drawing board after the destruction of Starkiller Base?
RJ: Starkiller Base was a big loss, but taking out the Republic governmental planetary system throws the galaxy into chaos, and the First Order takes advantage of that. They’re making big moves in the beginning of the film.
JG: So we know more about Rey and Finn, and BB-8 comes back, but are there new characters??
RJ: There might be a few… there are a few new fun characters coming. But one in particular who has the biggest new role is an actor – she is one of my favorite people. I’m so happy to introduce to you Kelly Marie Tran!!
Kelly Marie Tran (KMT): Woah!
JG: So this isn’t your first Celebration is it?
KMT: Yeah I was in London, went to all the booths, hung out, played with lightsabers – the energy and enthusiasm was amazing!
JG: You had to keep this a secret even from your family when you were cast?
KMT: Yes, I couldn’t tell them for four months, and told them I was doing an Indie film in Canada.
JG: What can you tell us?
KMT: My character’s name is Rose. She’s part of the resistance and works in maintenance. Can’t wait for you to meet her!
RJ: When you’re watching Luke Skywalker being pulled out of wherever he was on Tatooine, the unlikely hero, this is what Rose is. She’s not a soldier, she’s just a character like all of us.
JG: Last night I told you this is crazy Kelly. Your life is about to change. Your anonymity… well you can just ask these two. *waves at John and Daisy* How do you feel about being a part of the Star Wars universe?
KMT: You know, it’s incredible. So many people tell you how it will be like, and then you get on stage and hear the excitement, and now I just want to do it justice. Thank you everyone for letting me be there.
JG: And now I’d like to introduce one of the most iconic characters in film history, the one and only Mark Hamill! This is like old habit for you Mark, you do this all the time!!
Mark Hamill (MH): No, you don’t get used to it. You get home, and instead of adoring fans your wife is tasking you to take out the trash, or the dog to the yard, etc.
JG: Does Luke get to talk in this film?
MH: I may be one of the most valuable characters for Lucasfilm, not because I’m an original character, but because I have short term memory loss. You know Rian came out to my house to discuss the script, and we spent several hours chatting, and I showed him tv shows, you know important things…. One reason I loved Rogue One and the prequels is because I wasn’t in them. I told Rian we had a beginning, middle, and end in the Original Trilogy, and I don’t want to tempt fate. Truth be known Ryan I’m terrified. Know what he said? “I’m terrified too.” And that’s a director I can love. A lot of times you can categorize director’s films. But his films are all so original and ambitious. In this experience he’s rocketed to the top of my favorite directors of all time. He was my seeing eye dog, and I knew if Rian was happy I was happy. I turned my performance over to him. I know if he was satisfied we got it right.
JG: What is it like to find Luke’s metaphorical voice again? Did you go back and watch the old films to prepare for the new ones?
MH: In The Force Awakens you discover Luke on this island. You know actors like to write their own backstories. But I realized that was important to The Force Awakens. I still made it up myself, and tried to show it to JJ, and he was accommodating. He basically patted me on the head and gave me a cookie and sent me on my way. Luke is an important overarching part of the saga, and there’s that important part of mystery with him. There will be comic books, and novels and video games that will show the history. But, I had to relate to a lot of real things in my life to make sure it connected and felt real.
KK: I’m just going to break in here to make sure that everyone here knows that he is so incredibly significant to this film.
MH: I see Olaf, I see God, I see my daug.. I mean colleague, and son, and this one *points at Kelly Marie Tran* so adorable she could be a disney cartoon! What I thought in The Force Awakens was that I’d come in and I thought I’d be there in the forest, like when the lightsaber wriggled in the snow that it would fly into my hand, and then I read it flew into … REY’S!?! She didn’t even have any training! But it was a great cliffhanger… and I was standing on the edge of a cliff. I trained every week for a long time, so when I didn’t have any actions scenes I was like oh well.
JG: Yesterday was the incredible 40th Celebration Panel. Anything you want to say after this incredible forty years of Star Wars?
MH: *Turns to the crowd* You people, if you hadn’t supported me I wouldn’t be here right now. You’re there for me in good times and bad times. Thank you you all so much. It’s moving thinking about how we’ve inspired so many people, that it’s generations. I met my wife online for The Empire Strikes Back. Going to the hospitals and meeting these kids who have such dire situations in their lives, it puts things in perspective. Maybe just doing voiceovers is so trivial compared with the benefits these kids get from meeting people like these. *gesturing towards the cast members* I met a little boy who lost his arm because of tuberculosis, and he said he wasn’t worried because Luke and lost his arm. It’s incredible – a gift that I will never take for granted. Thank you all so, so much.
JG: This crowd is really patient and generous, so I’m going to ask you Rian if you have anything to show us?
RJ: I might… I wanna show you this. We have a teaser poster that I can we put it up!
*Rey standing in the red, new poster*** find photos and put it here.
RJ: Isn’t that beautiful?
KK: And these guys haven’t seen it either!!! *gestures towards cast members* It’s important to know that every single one of you sitting here gets one of these!
*Crowd screams and cheers*
KK: I’m sorry to say we can’t get Rian to stay up all night and sign each one.
RJ: *whispers something intelligible and the excitement in the room skyrockets*
*The crowd starts chanting: Trailer! Trailer! Trailer! Trailer! and cheering in a standing ovation*
RJ: Who wants to watch a trailer!?!
*crowd goes completely nuts!!
RJ: This is also all of these guys on stage the first time watching it too!
RJ: I’m so proud of this cast and crew. Right now I think we should watch the trailer again! Thank you so much everyone! *walks off stage*
*Trailer plays again*
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