Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson made a special appearance today at D23, bringing some friends and a few surprises. Here are some of the highlights.
1. That sizzle.
Johnson debuted new behind-the-scenes footage in a thrilling sizzle reel, offering us even more of a glimpse into the film. It features new shots of the Millennium Falcon, Rey, Luke, never-before-seen practical-effects creatures, Captain Phasma, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley training for fight scenes, and much more. “I’m hoping it’ll be a little shocking,” Johnson says in the video, “but I’m hoping it’ll feel real and honest.” But it’s Carrie Fisher who gets the last word. “It’s about family. And that’s what’s so powerful about it.”
2. “I had the time of my life making this movie.”
The “Jedi Master” of the film, as Walt Disney Studios chariman Alan Horn called Johnson in his introduction, spoke openly about how much he enjoyed making The Last Jedi, which is now in postproduction. “I had the time of my life making this movie. And part of that is what Star Wars means to me, and I think means to a lot of us. A lot of that is also the people I got to work with.” With that, Johnson introduced many of the film’s stars who then joined him on stage: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, and later, Mark Hamill. As he talked with each actor, Johnson showed some of his black-and-white photos that he took on set along with new stills, including shots of Finn and BB-8, Christie sitting in a chair in Phasma armor, Daisy Ridley in the cockpit of the Falcon, and more.
3. Rian and Daisy danced a jig.
After shooting wrapped in Ireland, Johnson and Ridley appropriately danced a jig. The amount of time they danced, however, is up for debate. “We had a really fantastic time, and the last night Rian and I jigged for about an hour,” Ridley said. “Well, you had been doing combat training, so you jigged for an hour,” Johnson said. “I jigged for about five minutes, then started to wheeze and smell burnt toast and then stopped.”
4. Finn will strike back.
Johnson noted that when the teaser premiered at Star Wars Celebration, he felt bad that Finn is only seen lying asleep. “Finn sees some action in this movie,” he assured fans.
5. Laura Dern makes sounds effects.
Dern is seen holding a blaster in one of Johnson’s personal set photos, but there was more to the picture. “I think it’s actually in the movie — when you fire the gun, I noticed you were saying the word ‘pew’,” Johnson said to Dern. Dern replied that Star Wars was “the dream of our lives,” and she has loved it a long time. “I was given this amazing opportunity to join you all,” Dern said. “But I didn’t remember that you don’t have to say the words you said when you were eight, pretending. So yes, you will see me go, “Pew! Pew!”
6. Johnson is a Luke Skywalker and Mark Hamill fan.
The new Disney Legend, Mark Hamill, was introduced toward the end of the showcase, and Johnson was effusive in what the actor and his most iconic role meant to him. “Growing up as a kid, Luke was my guy,” Johnson said. “Being a kid in Colorado, sitting there looking up the screen, just thinking that a farmboy could grow up and have an adventure. And then to get to work with you… They say never meet your heroes, but in this case, just working with you as an actor, and the amount of graciousness you have, and the trust — the experience was just so magical for me.”
7. New character posters!
Following the panel, Johnson and the cast revealed new character posters across their social media channels. The Force — and the color red — is strong with them.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel gallery:
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer and editor of the StarWars.com blog. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.