May the press be with you! With red carpet premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” a week away, and the official release of the movie not longer after, the excitement for the sequel is beginning to reach peak levels. And this weekend, journalists and bloggers spent some times with the cast and filmmakers as the final press gauntlet begins for the picture. However, if there is one plea coming from producer Kathleen Kennedy to those writing about the movie, it’s this: don’t spoil it.
“We have so few surprises anymore when you walk in to see a movie. It’s all in the trailers or ends up online well in advance,” she said (via EW) about the film’s secrecy, and explaining why no press have been able to see the movie yet. “That’s really all that’s driving it. We’ve respected that in all ways we can.”
So, what was revealed at the press conference this weekend? Not a helluva lot because, as you might expect, the idea is to keep all the big surprises for when you’re in the theater. For Kylo Ren, Adam Driver‘s villain in the movie, the actor approached the character without a preconceived notion of who he was. “I remember us saying that he wasn’t bad or evil or a villain but was something more three-dimensional. Because that seemed more dangerous and more unpredictable – someone who feels morally justified in what they’re doing is something more active to play, instead of something being evil for the sake of it,” he explained.
“I think he’s very unpolished and unfinished and I think what J.J. and Larry did, keeping all the vocabulary that everyone is familiar with, but adding a kind of recklessness and is un-neat about it, since people associated the Dark Side being in control and organized. And in command,” he added.
As for Lawrence Kasdan, he was a bit more direct about the personality of Kylo Ren. “There’s never been a character like Kylo in the saga. He hasn’t got his shit all together,” the screenwriter stated. “And Adam acts it so beautifully. You expect this to be some evil genius but what you’re getting is all the contradictions and conflict that any one of us can feel at any moment. I think that’s what’s unique about what Adam has done.”
More broadly, Abrams explained what he wanted to accomplish with this movie. “When Kathy Kennedy and Larry and I started talking about what this was, at the very beginning, the fundamental question was: what do we want to feel? And that was the beginning of the discussion. The answer was – the sense of discovery, exhilaration, surprise, the comedy that George Lucas put into ‘Star Wars‘ was the thing that made me love the movie,” the director said. “If you look at all the things that he got right, it’s impossible and stunning. So for us it was about knowing why we were telling this story and to give people that sense of possibility and magic that we all felt while watching the original ‘Star Wars.’ But this is all to tell a new story. This is not a nostalgia trip. We had to go backwards to go forwards. The fabric needed to be what we were familiar with in order to tell a new story.”
Meanwhile, Kasdan shared what “Star Wars” films were key in approaching the sequel, and where he might’ve drawn influences from. “I think it had more to do with [‘Return Of The] Jedi‘ and the continuation of [Episodes] 4, 5, and 6. We were aware and respectful of the canon but we wanted to tell a story that interested us and delighted us and we didn’t want rules or parameters. We could do anything we want with this story – what would be the most fun to do on this page and the next page and the page after that? So that was the guiding principle more than the canon or anything that had come before,” he said.
“All of the movies of Akira Kurosawa have influenced me throughout the years,” Kasdan added. “He was the Shakespeare of cinema. He did comedies, action films, drama. And all of life is contained within his films. When J.J. and I were working, we kept referring to that. We would talk about the great American movies we loved and things that influenced the first ‘Star Wars’ like Howard Hawks and John Ford. Because when George made ‘A New Hope,’ he was influenced by Kurosawa and ‘Flash Gordon‘ and ‘Wizard of Oz.’ All of those movies, you can feel them in ‘A New Hope.’ “
There were also some loose ends that were tied up. Despite rumors to the contrary, Abrams confirms that there will not be an extra scene or teaser after the credits (“All the scenes are actually in the movie”) and duh, don’t expect to find Jar-Jar Binks or Ewoks in ‘The Force Awakens.’ **SPOILERS AHEAD** However, one character is expected to find their adventure continuing after ‘The Force Awakens’ — Gwendoline Christie‘s Captain Phasma. “She’s an important character, a baddie in the best sense of the word,” Kennedy told The LA Times last week.
“The reason I love my character so much and I feel so enthusiastic about Capt. Phasma is, yes, she’s cool, she looks cool, she’s a villain — but more than that, we see a female character and respond to her not because of the way she looks,” Christie added. “We respond to her because of her actions. I think we’re a society that has promoted a homogenized idea of beauty in women — and in men — and I think it’s really interesting, modern and necessary to have a female character that isn’t about the way her body looks. It isn’t about her wearing makeup. It’s not about her being conventionally feminized. The idea of this enormous legacy and franchise embracing an idea like that, which of course to many of us feels logical, is actually really progressive. And long overdue.” **END SPOILERS**
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” enters our galaxy on December 18th. Check out some new promos below along with the full press conference.