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All The 'Star Wars' News From Yesterday's London Expo

By Petr Navovy | Star Wars | July 18, 2016 |

By Petr Navovy | Star Wars | July 18, 2016 |

The London ExCel Centre held an event yesterday. That’s usually a boring-as-fuck-or-maybe-illegal-arms-fair-related sentence, but as the event was (somewhat clunkily) titled ‘Star Wars Celebration Europe,’ there was, for a change, some goodness emanating from it.

Plus Europe was, like, super grateful for something nice to focus on for just a second.

Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Episode VIII director Rian Johnson were in attendance; as were stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (and their dogs), and London native John Boyega.

Alden Ehrenreich was also introduced officially for the first time as our upcoming young Han Solo — who he will be playing in the Chris Lord and Phil Miller-directed and Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan-scripted spin-off. The directing duo were also present at the event. On casting Ehrenreich — a notoriously near-impossible and fan-rage-inducing task — they joked that, though they looked at over 3000 people, they actually just ‘cast the first person who walked through the door.’ Head honcho Kennedy fired back that she would be taking the money wasted on that effort out of their salary. Ehrenreich himself said of the experience: ‘I read the sides and I loved them. I auditioned for six months. The coolest part was I went on the Falcon for a chemistry test with Chewbacca. It was unbelievable. It was more exciting than nerve-racking.’

Joining the returning cast for Episode VIII will be new additions Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran.

There was, unfortunately, no footage from Episode VIII, or even a title; although Rian Johnson did confirm what some fans have been speculating for a while:

Reddit, of course, pitched the opening crawl sequence:

Speaking of his influences for the movie, Rian Johnson — who is a goddamn excellent, inspired choice for director — cited 12 O’clock High, Bridge of the River Kwai, Sahara, Letter Never Sent, Three Outlaw Samurai, and Gunga Din. All classic movies with an air of desperation about them, as well as the smell of battle in the air. Johnson made some Lucasfilm staff watch these movies to let his intended tone osmose in.

Other key quotes from Johnson that sound like they could be signs of goodness are that Episode VIII would really be ‘zooming in on the characters. Getting to the heart of them, challenging them, and pushing them deeper,’ and that the amount of sets built for this movie has been ‘outrageous.’

We also learned about the ridiculously tight shooting schedule of the new Star Wars movies: production on Episode VIII started while The Force Awakens was still being made — with Johnson getting his information about crucial plot details not from the finished product but from the script and the dallies — and Colin Trevorrow has already begun preparation for Episode IX.

Gareth Edwards, director of Rogue One, will also have a cameo in Episode VIII. Because why the hell not.

Finally, Carrie Fisher maybe accidentally dropped a potential plot detail. As reported by The Telegraph:

“Han’s funeral…” Fisher began during her Princess Diaries panel, when host Warwick Davis asked her what her character, General Leia (formerly Princess), had been up to since the filming of The Force Awakens. But she quickly moved on to more general reminiscences about Harrison Ford’s character.

Oh, and also? Luke reunited with Biggs:


Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music