Whoppers, Ewoks, and the Big Deal! – SWR #283
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Vanity Fair photos from TLJ
Written by David Kamp
Photographer Annie Leibovitz
Part of what makes Lucasfilm’s new system work is that Kennedy has set up a formidable support structure for her filmmakers. Upon her arrival, she put together a story department at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco headquarters, overseen by Kiri Hart, a development executive and former screenwriter she has long worked with. The story group, which numbers 11 people, maintains the narrative continuity and integrity of all the Star Wars properties that exist across various platforms: animation, video games, novels, comic books, and, most important, movies. “The whole team reads each draft of the screenplay as it evolves,” Hart explained to me, “and we try, as much as we can, to smooth out anything that isn’t connecting.”
What the story group does not do, Hart said, is impose plot-point mandates on the filmmakers. Johnson told me he was surprised at how much leeway he was given to cook up the action of Episode VIII from scratch. “The pre-set was Episode VII, and that was kind of it,” he said. If anything, Johnson wanted more give-and-take with the Lucasfilm team, so he moved up to San Francisco for about six weeks during his writing process, taking an office two doors down from Hart’s and meeting with the full group twice a week.
Among Johnson’s inventions for The Last Jedi are three significant new figures: a “shady character” of unclear allegiances, played by Benicio Del Toro, who goes unnamed in the film but is called DJ by the filmmakers (“You’ll see—there’s a reason why we call him DJ,” Johnson said); a prominent officer in the Resistance named Vice Admiral Holdo, played by Laura Dern; and a maintenance worker for the Resistance named Rose Tico, who is played by a young actress named Kelly Marie Tran (and who is the sister of Paige, the character witnessed in the scene with Poe Dameron). Tran’s is the largest new part, and her plotline involves a mission behind enemy lines with Boyega’s Finn, the stormtrooper turned Resistance warrior.
Rose and Finn’s adventure takes them to, among other places, another Johnson innovation: a glittering casino city called Canto Bight, “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief,” the director said.
John Boyega says Finn is a ‘Big Deal’ (ew.com)
Boyega: “The funny thing is, between VII and VIII, Finn’s now a big deal! He is now a big deal. Imagine that – you get taken down by Kylo Ren,” Boyega told us at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida. “Think about what the gossip’s going to be like in the Resistance. ‘Oh, that’s the guy that got slashed down by Kylo?’”
Boyega breaks into a grinning stride, winking and waving at imaginary Resistance fighters. “‘How you doing, guys? How you doing? Yeah, I was there. Then the Falcon picked me up… Oh yeah, I knew Han Solo by the way. We were pretty close.’ All that kind of stuff. They have a fan moment when they see him.”
Boyega can’t resist saying it again: “Finn’s a big deal.”
Boyega: “Finn’s in a bad way at the end of VII. He has a lot of issues. He got slashed with a saber, and that took him down real hard, so he’s in a coma,” the actor says. “That suit, that whole thing helps him to recover. But we’re not sure whether that means he’ll wake up.”
Recovering from a lightsaber wound is a more arduous process than most other injuries.
“Once it’s in, it continues to burn the skin and the cells.