Star Wars Celebration: The Last Jedi panel reveals first footage and so much more

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Lucas Siegel
Apr 14, 2017

Josh Gad hosted the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando after his hilarious series of videos with Daisy Ridley telling the fans, "She Forced my hand!" After a brief introduction, he brought out Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, and writer/director Rian Johnson, who was all smiles for the panel. Johnson spent four hours in the overnight line the night before, signing autographs, mingling with the crowd, and just talking Star Wars. He said talking to the fans and "feeling the positivity and the encouragement" got rid of his fears about being on the panel today.

"Rian is on his way to standing alongside many of the great filmmakers that I've had the opportunity to work with," Kennedy said of Johnson. "He has an amazing uniqueness to what he does. He writes as beautifully as he directs, which is really incredible, and he writes amazingly fierce and independent women, and has a great sense of humor, which everyone knows is important to Star Wars."

Johnson said that shooting in Ireland was a "dream come true" and shared some behind-the-scenes photos he took, with fans going nuts when Poe, Finn and Rey (with lightsaber) were shown. A behind-the-scenes photo of Carrie Fisher turned the conversation to the recently lost member of the Star Wars family.

"Carrie's performance is amazing in the movie," Kennedy said. "We sat on her bed for hours and went through the script," Johnson said, with ad-libs that helped him with dialogue; Fisher had a long history as a writer and script doctor, and apparently helped here on The Last Jedi.

Daisy Ridley came out on the stage, and after some hilarious questions from Josh Gad about her character's identity, she said, "I can say that in The Last Jedi, we go deeper into Rey's story. She has a certain expectation of what she's going to get from Luke, but as many people know, sometimes you shouldn't meet your heroes, because it might not be what you expect."

Being part of creating Rey is one of things that Ridley is most amazed by. "So much of the stuff people respond to in that character, just like the things people look up to in Leia came from Carrie, the things from Rey come from Daisy," Johnson said.

BB-8 rolled out on stage to thunderous applause. Gad tried to ask the droid "Who is the Last Jedi?" but even the droid wouldn't beep that out. Johnson teased that there are new moments for BB-8. "The best advice I got is that you cannot have enough BB-8," the director said. "He's the Buster Keaton of this movie."

John Boyega came out next, and said, "Finn will be back in The Last Jedi, and he's not playing this time." The actor said that when he and Daisy would talk to each other on Facetime from different sets in different costumes, he said, "We need to get back home!" Oscar Isaac wasn't able to make it, but Boyega said there'll be more bro moments between their characters. He then teased, "In The Last Jedi, Finn's test is, is he going to be part of the Resistance, or is he going to keep running from the First Order? We'll see."

Kelly Marie Tran, who has "the biggest new role in the movie," Johnson teased, took the stage next. Her character's name is Rose. "She's in the Resistance, and works in maintenance, and I can't wait for you to meet her." Johnson said her character is "so rad." He said that people getting "pulled out of their lives to be these unlikely heroes" are his favorite kinds of characters. "She doesn't want to be a hero, but she gets pulled into an adventure with Finn," Johnson teased.

Mark Hamill was next, and said that seeing the footage from the film is "an out-of-body experience," even when doing ADR for it. When Rian Johnson came to his house to go over the script, he said to him, "The truth of the matter is, one of the reasons I loved Rogue One and the Prequels so much was that I wasn't in them!" He was worried that "you can't catch lightning in a bottle twice" with more Star Wars with these characters, and told Johnson he was terrified. "So am I," Johnson replied, and Hamill knew then that he was the right director to take this movie on. "In this experience he has rocketed to the top of my all-time favorite directors. If Rian's happy, I'm happy. I totally turned over my performance to Rian, and knew that if he was satisfied, we got it right."

"There's a lot of mystery to him, even in the film. So you have to think about your own backstory," Hamill said of Luke "at this point in his life." Kennedy broke into say, "He is so significantly important to this next film. He is."

The actor trained constantly for 50 weeks, and when he read the script and saw the final page, he said, "Really? I had all that training for this?"

With that, the poster and trailer were revealed (to more thunderous applause), and the panel came to a close.