J.J. Abrams closed out the 42-year-old Skywalker Saga by directing/writing The Rise of Skywalker, but Lucasfilm's creative art manager, Phil Szostak, will get the last word with his art book for the film. Having written similar publications for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Solo, Szostak knows a thing or two about what Star Wars fans want to see in a behind-the-scenes tome. As you might expect, though, this project (on sale next week) came with a very specific expectations.
"There is a little bit of extra pressure, just personally, for the Skywalker Saga books, having grown up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with the original films," he exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "Those characters are very meaningful to me, the original trilogy characters and cast. I definitely feel a little bit of that weight and also just knowing how long of a process it is."
Using intel from the Resistance spy formerly known as First Order General Armitage Hux, SYFY WIRE got its hands on five exclusive interior pieces of artwork from the upcoming book. From Poe Dameron's flight get-up to Sith Rey's ominous outfit, we've got the d̶r̶o̶i̶d̶s̶ goods you're looking for.
This being the end of an era, The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn't just about Episode IX, but a loving homage to all the hard creative work that went into the entire sequel trilogy.
"In this case, I wanted it to be a victory lap for the creators — for the teams, actually," Szostak explains. "For the art department, for the creature department, the costume department, props team. All these teams that have been working so hard for over five years, almost continuously in some cases. I just wanted to pay tribute to each individual team."
To make sure he'd have ample time to hit all the salient elements of IX, Szostak began work on this book in the summer of 2018, just as The Rise of Skywalker was starting active production.
"I’m kind of the opposite of a procrastinator," he admits. "I definitely got a jump on it early and definitely felt some pressure and also just to meet the same level as the previous books in the series. And the historical books — the art of the original trilogy — and the ones that my friend Jonathan Rinzler did for the prequels. I did carry the weight of that responsibility pretty heavily and really wanted to meet that level and do something worthy of Star Wars, worthy of these amazing creators."
Between our wracking sobs at having to say goodbye to this chunk of George Lucas's epic space opera, Szostak offers his poignant view on the matter.
"It’s definitely bittersweet to close the book on the Skywalker Saga," he says. "Whatever stories they decide to tell after this time — and I have no knowledge of any potential future stories at all — but if they do, of course, the events of this film will ripple into those stories. As they say, one door closes, another opens. It definitely provides an opportunity to explore new characters and new times."
Tipping his hat to the great Din Djarin, the creative art manager concludes with:
"A perfect example of that is The Mandalorian, which is not as connected as Rogue One or Solo were to the larger events of the galaxy. I do also see The Rise of Skywalker as not only the closing of this book, but the opening of another. That’s just the way I look at it. The sky’s kind of the limit as far as the future of Star Wars storytelling."
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker goes on sale from Abrams Books next Tuesday, March 31. You can pre-order a copy for $40 right here.