Highlights from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Press Event

The cast and creators of the film gathered for a special discussion this weekend.

Over the weekend, journalists from all over the world gathered for a global press event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Los Angeles to learn more about The Last Jedi. Hosted by Anthony Breznican, the press conference featured just about every cast member from the film, as well as director Rian Johnson.

On the way to the press conference, costumes from the film were on display, giving the press a closeup look at Luke, Rey, Kylo Ren, and General Leia’s costumes. A pair of Praetorian Guards protected a printed image of Snoke’s throne room. BB-8 and BB-9E were both on hand to answer questions from the press as well.

With the film still shrouded in secrecy to preserve its surprises for fans, the cast and director couldn’t talk about much more than their feelings about the film, but the excitement in the room was palpable. The cast revealed that Johnson had recently shown them all the film, except for Domhnall Gleeson, who plays General Hux in The Last Jedi. “I wanted to wait and see it with a huge crowd and see it the way I saw The Force Awakens, with people losing their minds,” Gleeson told the press. “Then I heard the [rest of the cast] lost their minds and now I’m annoyed I didn’t go.”

“The group of us sitting together to watch it the first time was amazing. It was like we were three thousand people. We were standing up, crying… You missed something,” Laura Dern, said at one point, turning to Gleeson and rubbing it in. “When [The Last Jedi] started at the top when the lights went down, even though we’re all giddy and excited about being part of this, suddenly, you’re an obsessed fan regardless.”

“That sounds great,” Gleeson quipped back, cracking the rest of the cast up.

When asked about what similarities The Last Jedi had with other Star Wars movies, Rian Johnson referenced The Empire Strikes Back, but only to a point. “All the Star Wars films are beautiful, but for my taste, I think the cinematography from Empire is the most gorgeous of the whole series. So Steve [Yedlin, cinematographer] and I looked at the lighting [of Empire.] It’s pretty daring in terms of how literally dark they were willing to go with some of the choices made with the shaping of the lighting. But in terms of visual aesthetic, I made a choice very early on that I thought I can copy my idea of what the original movies did, or I realized we were going to take visual cues from the previous movies, but I need to just shoot this movie the way I’d shoot a movie. At the end of the day, if I’m not engaged with it and I’m not trying to tell the story the way that makes me excited, it’s not going to be up there on the screen, so I cut myself loose camera-wise and shot-wise from imitating the past and just tried to tell the story as excitingly as I could up on the screen.”

For his part, Mark Hamill neatly evaded every question asked of him. One reporter asked him what it was like training Rey and he responded quickly with, “Well, you’re assuming that I train Rey. Do I? I don’t know.”

One question that came up was the responsibility of portraying women in Star Wars, because they are role models. Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, felt that it was both an honor and a responsibility. “When I found out I got the part, I wanted to do the whole thing justice. I’m just so excited.” Then, she couldn’t help but smile widely, unable to contain that excitement. “The girls in this movie kick so much butt. It is so good and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Really, the entire cast seemed unable to contain their excitement for everyone to see the film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives December 15, 2017.

See more photos from the press conference below!

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of BigShinyRobot.com! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith. You can also follow him on Twitter.