The ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens had an unexpected moment for fans as we finally saw Luke Skywalker appear on the big screen for the first time in 32 years, and he didn’t even speak. Luke was an old man now, a hermit, someone that no one in the galaxy had seen for decades and he was living alone on a tiny island on a planet cleverly named Ach-To (as in Act Two of the new trilogy). Answering the fan questions of how he got there and why would be a big deal for the next movie and they were the first things writer/director Rian Johnson thought about.
“The very first step in the writing of this was figuring out why he’s on that island,” Johnson tells EW. “We know that he is not a coward. He’s not just hiding because he’s scared. But we also know that he must know his friends are in danger. He must know the galaxy needs him. And he’s sitting on this island in the middle of nowhere. There had to be an answer. It had to be something where Luke Skywalker believes he’s doing the right thing – and the process of figuring out what that is and unpacking it is the journey for Rey.”
Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, further elaborated on what the character was going through and he how the feelings he harbors stretch back all the way to the original movie.
“[Luke] made a huge mistake in thinking that his nephew was the chosen one, so he invested everything he had in Kylo, much like Obi-Wan did with my character, and he is betrayed, with tragic consequences. Luke feels responsible for that. That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late….I think he probably looks out on the horizon and wishes that he could be more effective, could be what Obi-Wan wanted him to be, but life is imperfect and without conflict there is no drama. Believe me, you’re going to see a lot of conflict in The Last Jedi. That is for sure.”
Daisy Ridley had a good quip about Rey’s thought process of meeting the old, haggard Luke, revealing the character’s inner thoughts by saying:
“’Oh my God, this other man that I lost within a couple days was somewhat of a father figure. Now he’s gone, and instead I’m with this grumpy guy on an island who doesn’t want me here.’”
There’s also the matter of John Boyega’s Finn in the sequel, who previously described himself as a “big deal” in The Resistance and now finds his self-appointed prophecy coming true.
“Everyone in the space, throughout the galaxy, would have heard about the young Jedi who discovered her powers and defeated Kylo Ren and the young former Stormtrooper who helped save the day,” Boyega tells the outlet. “He’s a hero to people like Rose, who fight for the Resistance because their homes have been destroyed by the First Order.”
Rose is a brand new character for the film and franchise, played by actress Kelly Marie Tran. Tran says her character gets caught up in the hype of Finn when they first meet, seeing it as an inverse of who she is herself.
“Poe Dameron is super cool. Finn’s super cool. Even though [Rose] is good at what she does, she’s not known,” Tran says. “She’s not cool. She’s this nobody, this background player, which is what makes her interesting. She’s not the best. She’s not royalty. She’s someone who is just like everyone else.”
Finn and Rose will team up in the movie though, taking to the “casino metropolis” Canto Bight, located on the planet Cantonica.
“The whole city is kind of one sort of luxury resort that’s been built on this very otherwise abandoned, arid planet,” Johnson says. “It’s like Vegas with aliens. So maybe it is just like Vegas.”
Johnson also spoke about the film as a whole, pointing toward parallels fans will see between The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back and how they were actually coincidental.
“I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to. But look, Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we’re intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels. But these are new characters, they’re dealing with new things, and that ultimately is what defines the movie. So I think that’s going to be unique.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in regular and IMAX theaters on December 15, 2017.