Allegiant General Pryde. Zorri Bliss. The Aki-Aki.
If these names don’t mean anything to you yet, they will — they’re some of the new figures who will appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The cover story for Vanity Fair features exclusive Annie Leibovitz images that provide the first look at these galactic denizens, including a few familiar thugs known as the Knights of Ren, who are finally stepping out into the light.
Keri Russell‘s face doesn’t appear, but she poses in her wine-colored suit with rose gold helmet and armor that streaks back in aerodynamic fashion, like the chrome goddess hood ornament of a 1936 Packard.
She plays Zorri Bliss, described as “masked scoundrel” who poses in an alleyway of a place called Thieves’ Quarter on the planet Kijimi, which is mountainous and crusted with snow. There’s something about her armor that’s a little more ornate than the usual bulky gear of an underworld figure.
Richard E. Grant is revealed as one of the new First Order villains, playing Allegiant General Pryde, who poses with Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux aboard Kylo Ren’s destroyer starship.
Leibovitz also shot a number of nomadic looking alien inhabitants of the planet Pasaana, shielded from the sun by their wrapped layers of linen. These are the Aki-Aki, caught in the crossfire of whatever has drawn the Resistance and the First Order to clash on their world.
Naomi Ackie’s character Jannah is featured with John Boyega‘s Finn riding atop creatures described as “hardy orbaks,” in a Return of the Jedi-like callback to an underwhelming, somewhat primitive army fighting back against the merciless war machines of the First Order.
There’s also a haunting shot of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, posing before a burning landscape with faithful droid R2-D2. He looks much as he did when he vanished from sight at the end of The Last Jedi, swaddled in flowing Jedi robes that collapsed to the stone floor when he exhausted his energy by projecting a vision of himself across the galaxy.
His mechanical hand is covered in a leather glove. If he was merely a Force ghost, would that be the case? Or is this image a callback to the destruction of the ancient Jedi tree on that island where he isolated himself?
Leibovitz’s image of Billy Dee Williams returning to the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Joonas Suotamo’s Chewbacca, and the droids BB-8 and newcomer D/O (peaking over Poe’s right shoulder) also harkens back to her shot of Harrison Ford and Daisy Ridley striking a similar pose for The Force Awakens.
There’s much more in the story by Lev Grossman, which can be read here.
Meanwhile, Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson expands on the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren.
“He had been forging this maybe-bond with Rey, and it kind of ends with the question in the air: is he going to pursue that relationship, or when the door of her ship goes up, does that also close that camaraderie that they were maybe forming?” Driver asks.
Driver says being the son of Han Solo and Princess/Senator/General Leia Organa placed an expectation on the character that broke him.
“If you were the product of those two people, two very strong personalities who seemed to be almost more committed to a cause than anything else, what’s that like?” the actor says. “How do you form friendships out of that? How do you understand the weight of that? And if there’s no one around you guiding you, or articulating things the right way … it can easily go awry.”
Rey, who grew up abandoned on the nowhere world of Jakku, has no sympathy for that whining.
“I think there’s a part of Rey that’s like, dude, you f—king had it all, you had it all, that was always a big question during filming: you had it all and you let it go.”