CHICAGO – “Star Wars: Episode IX” wraps up the current movie trilogy – and the entire Skywalker saga begun 42 years ago. And Friday finally brought a first teaser trailer and a title for the highly anticipated film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” at Star Wars Celebration.
The mega-popular franchise’s four-day convention offers a grand stage to answer fans’ most burning questions about the concluding chapter (in theaters Dec. 20) to the story line George Lucas introduced in 1977. Director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and surprise attendees including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac held court at a panel dedicated to “Episode IX” before the big reveal.
“Star Wars” stalwarts have been starving for a first trailer, intel on where heroes like Ridley’s Rey and Boyega’s Finn go after “The Last Jedi” and news about how Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher factor into the new movie.
12:06: Abrams brings out BB-8’s new droid buddy DEO. Abrams introduces a teaser trailer. Crowd goes bonkers when the title “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is revealed, plus teaser shows scenes of Rey flipping over Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter, Lando piloting the Falcon again, voiceover of Luke saying “It’s never the end” and a creepy laugh that sounds an awful lot like Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine.
11:59: Abrams and Kennedy talk about shooting in Jordan for three weeks. New creatures on the way, including a friend to the Resistance named Klad.
11:56: Suotamo shouts out his mentor – and OG Chewie – Peter Mayhew. Suotamo’s doing a lot of roars. “Chewie is a duty for me at this point,” he says, sharing a behind-the-scenes picture with him holding up his little kid.
11:51: Kelly Marie Tran gets a ton of cheers. Rose’s thoughts on the Falcon as a mechanic: “It’s pretty cool,” Tran says. More kissing? “All I can say is Finn’s a very eligible bachelor.” Abrams says one of the greatest things Rian Johnson did was cast Tran in “Last Jedi.”
11:46: Ridley turned 27 Wednesday and everybody sings happy birthday to her. Has Rey read the Jedi books? “They are pretty large,” she says. Also: “The lightsaber she inherited from Luke lives.” Any new tricks? “There are some extraordinary things that the character and Daisy did,” Abrams says. “Yes, there are some other things.” Ridley can confirm there are no more half-naked Kylo shots in “Episode IX.”
11:42: Better pilot, Han or Poe? “No one can pilot the Millennium Falcon like Han. However, Poe can literally fly anything,” Isaac says. Poe takes his love for Finn “very seriously.”
11:40: Boyega says Finn is now a “full-fledged Resistance sexy young man.” He says Phasma is dead. Colbert hints at a love triangle between Finn, Rose and Rey. “And there’s Poe, too!” he says. “Finn is fit and ready to mingle.”
11:36: Ackie describes getting the call. “I yelped!” she says. Her dad was also very excited. “My dad was telling me to shush because I was talking too loud on the phone.” Ackie plays Jannah. Is she Lando’s daughter? He’s so charming that “he could have children all over space.” (She didn’t say no!)
11:34: And here comes pretty much everyone else: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, new star Naomi Ackie and BB-8, naturally. Colbert asks the crowd to stop cheering for BB-8 so he can get to questions.
11:27: Next up is Lando himself, Billy Dee Williams! “I’m a very lucky person. I didn’t expect to be in this little adventure,” he says. “I ended up working with somebody who I have a tremendous regard for: J.J. Abrams. I love his name. He’s a beautiful young man.” Williams regards this as a “genuine highlight in my life.” Was it easy to get back to character? “Lando never left me.” Abrams says his first scene was with a group and everybody was wowed. He does get “sick and tired of being accused of betraying Han Solo. He was up against Darth Vader! He had to figure something out.” Colbert adds: “In retrospect, he’s the hero of all nine movies.”
11:20: Here comes some cast members: Anthony Daniels and old pal R2-D2. “He is the voice of reason,” Daniels says of his Threepio. “He is the one who tells you you’re in danger, And what does everyone tell him over nine movies? ‘Shut up.’ Well, I’m here to tell you, ‘Enough!’ ” Daniels announces that he’s got a book coming out.
11:19: Abrams confirms it doesn’t pick up right where “Last Jedi” left off – “Some time has passed” – but “this is an adventure the group goes on together.”
11:15: Colbert brings up interviewing Carrie Fisher. Abrams says they couldn’t “fill the void…. She was glorious and amazing.” The “weird miracle” was they had unused scenes from “Force Awakens” and found a way for her to be in it. “What if we could write scenes around her? The crazy thing is, emotionally, every day it hits me every day she’s here but it’s surreal because we’re working with her still. … Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that’s mindblowing to me.”
11:13: It’s 40 years after Lucas started, and to keep it relevant “it has to feel of its time,” Kennedy says. They’ve taken to heart everything that inspired Lucas. “This movie is about this new generation and what they’ve inherited, the light and the dark,” Abrams adds.
11:11: Abrams says he “can’t wait for people to see” what’s to come. In editing room now and “things are going pretty well so far.”
11:10: “The thing I think about all the time is the responsibility we have,” Kennedy says. Lucas said this was the third act of a three-act structure and this is it, she confirms. “What you’re going to end up seeing you’re going to be so happy with.” And Abrams “cares more than anyone I know.”
11:08: Colbert was on the “Episode IX” set: “Oh the things I know.” He introduces Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams, who get the standing ovation.
11:07: Colbert: “Am I really at this panel right now? Isn’t it possible … I’m Force-projecting myself on this stage? Come on, just try to strike me down.” A nod to Luke Skywalker in “Last Jedi.” Colbert feels like the Luke from the original film: “I was once that kid. And on my best days I still am.”
11:04: The panel begins with a montage of behind-the-scenes footage from other movies that’s absolutely chill-inducing. And our host comes out … Stephen Colbert!
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