The title of The Last Jedi may not refer to a person — it may simply be a promise. If Luke Skywalker has his way, at least.
Writer-director Rian Johnson, who spent the wee hours of Thursday night greeting thousands of fans waiting in line for his Star Wars Celebration panel, debuted a new trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Friday at the finale of a panel on the latest story from a galaxy far, far away.
After debuting a teaser poster for the film, Johnson joked with the crowd of excited fans. “Is there a trailer? OF THERE’S A TRAILER! What are you talking about?”
The first look at The Last Jedi features stars Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac — plus a return visit from BB-8. “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” intones a somber Luke Skywalker at the trailer’s conclusion.
Watch it above.
But before the trailer debuted, Johnson, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and his cast — including newcomer Kelly Marie Tran — discussed the new film (out Dec. 15) with moderator and Star Wars superfan Josh Gad. Below, a rundown of the panel as it happened live.
— Josh Gad is hosting the panel. It kicks off with some of his social media videos, peppering Daisy Ridley with Star Wars questions. He says she forced him to get his information the hard way.
“If I weren’t up here, I’d be out there with you guys,” he tells the crowd. “I remember watching the original trilogy on VHS, which for those of you who are millennials in the audience is the same technology Wall-E uses to watch movies.”
— Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Johnson are the first onstage. “We have so many questions, and they have answers,” Gad says.
Kennedy starts out by saying, “We took a big risk last year when we did Rogue One,” but she thanked fans for making it a hit. “It gives us a lot of confidence to keep going in that direction.”
Gad tells Johnson to take a bow for spending most of Thursday night meeting nearly everyone in this room of thousands. Huge cheers for everyone’s new best friend, the writer-director of Episode VIII.
“Thinking about what this means to all of us, I started to get really scared,” Johnson says. “Meeting you guys, and feeling the positivity, and the encouragement, I just … thank you. This is the best fan-family in the world.”
— We get an image of Johnson signing an autograph on the hull of the Millennium Falcon, and he gave an update on the status of the Dec. 15 film. “We’re in post-production. We’re still editing. We’re doing quite well, and it’s all coming together.”
Kennedy praises Johnson by saying he’ll soon stand among the giants of the franchise. “He writes amazingly fierce and independent women,” she says. This is an important statement for the fandom, which is specifically reaching out to include more women and girls. (See the new Forces of Destiny animated shorts, for example.)
— Johnson notes he was one of the only people on set who could take photos without being tackled, and we get a few monochromatic behind-the-scenes shots from the film.
“So I can assume the entire film is in black and white?” Gad asks.
“Don’t tweet that,” Johnson says.
— Gad brings up Carrie Fisher and asks what it was like developing Princess Leia, now General Organa. We get an image of Fisher in costume with her hair swept back — and noticeably more gray at the temples.
“I love her so much, man,” Johnson says. “I just adore her. And I connected first and foremost with her as a writer. She had a brilliant mind, and I’d sit on her bed for hours, going through the screenplay, and we’d have these stream-of-consciousness ad-lib sessions. At the end, there would be a four-word line of dialogue that came from that.”
Then came an appearance by Rey herself, as well as Kelly Marie Tran introducing her new character — and finally, Luke Skywalker speaks…
— Daisy Ridley joins the panel. Gad peppers her with questions about whether her character is named Rey Skywalker or Rey Kenobi. But Ridley doesn’t betray anything.
As we get a glimpse of Rey on the island where Skywalker has exiled himself on the world of Ach-To, she offers this tidbit:
“We go deeper into Rey’s story. And Rey has a certain expectation of what she might get from Luke, and what that might entail. And as a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect.”
Lots to parse there. Fans have been waiting to meet up with Luke again themselves after all these decades. We may not be getting what we expect.
— BB-8 rolls out and also declines to give away any details, despite Gad asking the robot relentless questions about the plot. Johnson described the roly-poly droid as The Last Jedi‘s comic relief: “He’s the Buster Keaton of this movie.”
— John Boyega arrives onstage. He says Finn was wounded, and has been through some hard times, and is “in recovery” after being gravely wounded by Kylo Ren, but the former Stormtrooper is eager “to find his place” in the galaxy. “Is Finn going to be a part of the Resistance or just continue to run from the First Order?” he says.
He’ll also will be continuing his bromance with X-wing pilot Poe Dameron (although not today. Oscar Isaac isn’t here for the panel.)
“Poe is my boy,” he says.
— We meet a new figure from the galaxy, played by Kelly Marie Tran.
“My character’s name is Rose. She’s part of the Resistance, and she works in maintenance. I can’t wait for you to meet her,” says the actress, who previously was best known for a series of digital comedy shorts.
Johnson says Rose is the movie’s everywoman.
“For me, growing up, one of the things as a kid in Colorado watching these movies, watching Luke Skywalker — and Rey is the same thing — get pulled out wherever he is and be this unlikely hero, this possibility that any of us could step up and become a hero, that’s where Rose comes from,” Johnson tells the crowd. “She’s not a soldier, she’s not looking to be a hero. But she gets pulled into a very big adventure with Finn. And Kelly embodies that for me.”
— Mark Hamill joins the panel to say that Skywalker’s story will remain somewhat vague. The actor came up with his own backstory during The Force Awakens and says he shared it with J.J. Abrams but isn’t sure any of it will factor into the films.
“It’s not Luke’s story anymore, but he’s important to the arc of the saga,” Hamill says. “I’m sure there will be comics, and video games and novels that tell the story.”
Kennedy interjects to say he is a vital part of the new movies, in case anyone is afraid there will be too little of him in The Last Jedi.
Hamill speaks about the real life power of Star Wars, saying he met a little boy at a hospital who lost his arm to tuberculosis. “He said he wasn’t worried because Luke also lost his arm,” Hamill says.
— After that, Johnson shows the audience and his cast the Last Jedi trailer for the first time. And like any good showman, he gives the audience what it wants: a second viewing immediately following the first.
Check out the teaser above.
The Last Jedi arrives in theaters on Dec. 15.