Déjà vu, anyone? It seems like only yesterday that Vanity Fair was previewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we were getting some of our first real glimpses at Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the all-too-familiar galaxy that J.J. Abrams was bringing back to life piece by piece. Well, two years later, we’ve been given the same sweet treats for its sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, specifically another flavorful cover story, a round of jaw-dropping photos from legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, and juicy details that should us over until the film’s release on December 15th.
A few highlights to glean from the story include the confirmation that Laura Dern is playing a prominent Resistance officer named Vice Admiral Holdo, Kelly Marie Tran is playing a Resistance maintenance worker named Rose Tico, and Benicio Del Toro is playing an unnamed shady character who’s been dubbed “DJ” by the filmmakers. The action will also move to a new casino city setting called Canto Bight, which director Rian Johnson describes as “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief.” Very cool.
Those expecting to see a darker picture akin to The Empire Strikes Back will have to temper those expectations as Johnson contends: “I didn’t want this to be a dirge, a heavy-osity movie. So one thing I’ve tried really hard to do is keep the humor in there, to maintain the feeling, amid all the heavy operatic moments, that you’re on a fun ride.” It should also be quite stylish, too, as he adds of Canto Bight: “I was thinking, O.K., let’s go ultra-glamour. Let’s create a playground, basically, for rich assholes.” Hmm, sounds a little like this one place called Bespin?
Given that the cover shoot took place during filming, the late Carrie Fisher is also featured in the story, and can be seen in photos with her daughter Billie Lourd. Oscar Isaac, who plays the “best pilot in the galaxy” Poe Dameron, shared a humorous anecdote from the production, saying: “We did this scene where Carrie has to slap me. I think we did 27 takes in all, and Carrie leaned into it every time, man. She loved hitting me. Rian found such a wonderful way of working with her, and I think she really relished it.”
Though, producer Kathleen Kennedy has arguably the most tragic story to tell, as she recalls the time Fisher completed her work on the film. “She was having a blast,” Kennedy says. “The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison [Ford] was front and center on VII, and Mark [Hamill] is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”
It’s certainly worth a full read, so check it out after you watch the behind-the-scenes video above and flip through the photos below. Also, stay tuned for a full breakdown in our trusty Star Wars podcast, State of the Empire, brought to you by the fine folks at Nerdy Show.