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As we close out EW’s cover story on The Last Jedi, let’s take a trip into the dark side of the galaxy.
Most of the previous stories have focused on the heroes of the Star Wars saga and the new film’s theme about the risks and rewards of meeting those you idolize.
Here’s a look at some of the villains, and a tease of what to expect from them when the film opens on Dec. 15.
The aspiring Sith let his last bit of light slip away when he drove his janky, handmade lightsaber into the heart of his father, Han Solo. But there was no victory for Kylo Ren as he sank into the abyss.
Instead, he was humiliated. By a scavenger girl, of all things.
“He’s definitely been knocked off base,” says The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson says. “The defeat that he had at the end of The Force Awakens, but even bigger than that, his huge defining act which, spoiler alert, is the murder of his father… that’s the more interesting thing to dive into. How has he dealt with that in his head? Where is he at in terms of that act and what does that mean for him?”
Johnson said Ben Solo’s shift to darkness is symbolic of “the treacherous road through adolescence” that Star Wars often explores.
“Kylo represents kind of the rebellious anger that you feel during that period. Honestly, sometimes it’s a healthy desire to push away from the place that you know, from the things that you came from. But he obviously does it in an extreme that’s not healthy at all.”
He said Kylo and Rey are “two halves of the dark and the light.”
Among their shared interests: She is an expert pilot, and in this film well see him maneuvering his own starship, the TIE Silencer, which is a variation on his grandfather, Darth Vader’s old ship.
Yes. He’s back. In a way.
Kylo Ren’s murder of Han Solo also makes Rey’s contempt for him much more personal. He’s no longer just a random madman terrorizing the galaxy. Rey has a grudge: He stole from her the father-figure she’d been searching for her whole life.
“She just doesn’t understand Kylo,” Daisy Ridley says. “When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous. So she has grief for the loss and then there’s anger. To be honest, she couldn’t understand doing something like that – let alone to your parents.”
Although his character is no more, Han Solo’s legacy lives on.
“Han, the ghost of — well, not literally,” Johnson says, interrupting himself with a laugh. “I don’t want to misguide. I have to be very careful with my words here. But a figurative ghost of Han had to be present throughout this entire film.”
Those who wanted the silver-armored stormtrooper to get more screen time in The Force Awakens will be getting their wish this time.
Gwendoline Christie’s merciless First Order officer Captain Phasma has a more significant role in The Last Jedi.
“Gwendoline Christie is one of my favorite people, and you get to see her in action which I think is going to be really fun,” Johnson says. “That character is just so damn cool looking. Like, okay, let’s see what we can do with her. Let’s put her in action and see what happens.”
In the trailer, we can see her leading an assault on a Rebel base, and John Boyega promises we’ll see her in a showdown with his ex-stormtrooper Finn. (The two last saw each other when he was stuffing her down a garbage chute into a trash compactor.)
The Last Jedi won’t necessarily explore new backstory for Phasma, but her broader tale will be told in two new books:
-The novel Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson, which delves into how she originated on a hardscrabble planet and sought escape by joining the First Order. (It’s on shelves Sept. 1.)
-The Marvel comic book Captain Phasma, which reveals how she escaped from that trash compactor on Starkiller base and made her way to the action of The Last Jedi. (The first issue hits Sept. 6.)
Okay, he’s clearly not a villain, but there is darkness surrounding the Wookiee in this film.
Chewbacca (played by Joona Suotamo, fully taking over the role from original actor Peter Mayhew) is mourning his best friend, Han Solo, and that grief is not easy to articulate despite his proficiency with roars and groans.
We aren’t going to see a depressed Chewie, but we might encounter one who is a little more volatile than usual.
Johnson says things will be okay for him. Ultimately.
“Chewie’s doing all right. It’s tough. It was obviously a big loss for him, but, you know, he’s Chewie. He’s resilient,” Johnson says. “He’s got broad Wookiee shoulders, and he also has a new mission. He’s got Rey, and she’s someone that Han, to a certain extent, handed the keys to. So I think that that helps.”
It could be worse.
“If Chewie was just unemployed and sitting at home, things might be a little rougher, but he’s got a task to focus on,” Johnson adds.
Also, he’s got some new friends.
Or judging by the feather in his mouth here … are they snacks?
Again, this character isn’t a bad guy by any means, but we’ve got some unfortunate news that places her in our Dark Side round-up.
There will be less of the little orange sage in this movie, although Lupita Nyong’o’s character still turns up for an important moment in the spotlight.
“She has a smaller part in this than she has in The Force Awakens, but it’s a really fun part, and Lupita is so awesome,” Johnson says. “I’m just happy I got to work with her.”
Maz has insights into the past, and for a film about history, family connections, and the way the Force shapes destiny, she is bound to deliver important information.
Johnson says even he learned something.
“This was my first time working with mo-cap characters and working with actors in that way,” he says. “I feel like I got such an incredible education watching Lupita work.”
That does it for EW’s The Last Jedi coverage. Here’s the full list of our stories from this week.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters this December.