Star Wars Celebration incited some serious fan frenzy on Friday, April 12, 2019, during the Episode IX panel. Stephen Colbert, who served as the host of the panel, certainly had his work cut out for him as he tried to pry details out of the assembled guests.
The biggest news came with the trailer at the end of the panel, which revealed that the title will be The Rise of Skywalker along with the exciting news that the Emperor is returning. For more on the first teaser trailer, check out our coverage elsewhere in Scoop.
After cracking a few jokes, Colbert welcomed Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams to the stage. They began by talking about how this film completes the Skywalker Saga, wiht Kennedy calling it the “third act of a three act structure.” Though were careful not to spill too much about the great evil the characters would face, they pointed out that while the movie serves as the final chapter, it also tells its own story of the younger generation.
Colbert brought up Carrie Fisher and what her loss means to the series. Abrams expressed that they couldn’t fill the void of her loss and did not consider using a CG rendering of Leia for the film. They were, however, able to use some unused scenes from The Force Awakens, to bring her presence into the movie. “Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that is kind of mind blowing to me,” Abrams said when describing how that footage fit into the new story.
Getting into a bit more detail, the director and president said that the movie doesn’t pick up immediately after the last film, some time has gone by – though how much was not disclosed. The core characters will go on an adventure, but again, the audience wasn’t told where. After Abrams and Kennedy gave several cagey answers, Colbert comically threw his binder of questions to the floor, getting plenty of laughs from the crowd.
Anthony Daniels was the next guest welcomed to the stage, who was joined by R2-D2. Colbert began by pointing out that Daniels has been in every live-action film and that C-3PO is the physical embodiment of the films. Daniels pointed out that Threepio is the voice of reason, “Threepio is the one who tells you, you are in danger! And what does everyone do in three trilogies of movies? They say, ‘Shut up.’ I’m here to say enough! The droid fights back!”
The charismatic Daniels had the audience cracking up, especially while talking about having Threepio as a voice navigation option and his upcoming Star Wars memoir and the disagreement he had with the publisher, regarding the title (which he wanted to be Telling the Odds but will instead be titled I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story).
Billie Dee Williams was the next one out on the stage and began by expressing his enjoyment for working with J.J. Abrams. Since he is coming back to the character, Colbert asked how he found Lando again, to which the smooth Williams replied, “Lando never left me,” much to the crowd’s pleasure. A photo of him as Lando in the movie was shown, prompting Abrams and Kennedy to say that when he came on set for the first time, everyone grew quiet because they were so excited. Williams ended his interview segment by saying that he is sick of being accused of betraying Han to Darth Vader, joking that no one died.
Next on the stage were the stars of the third trilogy – Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Naomi Ackie.
Colbert started with Ackie, who is new to the series and was attending her first Celebration. She described getting the call that she got the part and how she sobbed on the phone. Ackie took the opportunity to announce that her character’s name is Jannah, who crosses paths with the group on their big adventure. Colbert asked her if Lando is her dad and she coyly responded, “Lando is a charming man and he could have children all over the universe.”
During Boyega’s turn under the spotlight, he said that Finn has found his identity in the Resistance, versus in the first two where he was trying to find where he fit into the Resistance. He confirmed that Phasma is definitely dead and that it served as some form of closure for that part of his life. When Colbert asked about the love triangle between Finn, Rey, and Rose, Boyega answered that Poe was in there too and that Finn was a single man in the universe.
Colbert gave Isaac a tough question right off the bat, asking who is a better pilot – Poe or Han Solo? Isaac deftly responded, “No one can pilot the Millennium Falcon like Han, however, Poe can literally fly anything. I’m just saying, Poe is the better Uber driver.” He also joked about the bromance between Poe and Finn – which seems just as strong between Isaac and Boyega, cracking up the audience. Colbert pointed out that Poe often makes jokes during stressful situations and Isaac expressed that his character finds the irony and humanity in even the darkest moments, and said that humor is part of the Force.
Ridley’s interview began with a question about the books Rey got from the tree library, to which she said that her character has begun reading them but hasn’t gotten through everything. Colbert asked if Rey is rebuilding her lightsaber or starting from scratch, and Ridley just said, “The lightsaber that Rey inherited from Luke lives.” When asked if any new Force powers have appeared, like Luke’s Force projection at the end of The Last Jedi – Daisy diverted to J.J., who said that Rey did some extraordinary things in the movie and left it at that.
When Colbert turned to Tran, she became emotional as the audience cheered for her. After her introduction in The Last Jedi, Tran was subject to toxic Star Wars fan attacks, some overtly racist, making the positivity at Celebration poignant and uplifting.
They started by talking about how Tran narrated the audiobook for Cobalt Squadron, which told Rose’s backstory, including her relationship with her sister, Paige. Tran used that to help her understand Rose better for the upcoming film. Once again, Colbert tried to pry some info on the possible Rose-Finn romance but Tran deflected.
Interviews wrapped up with Suotamo, who got the crowd excited by doing Chewbacca’s voice. This is his fourth time playing the Wookie and when Colbert asked if the costume has changed any, Suotamo said that it’s still the same way it’s been since ’77. When asked why is Chewie beloved by audiences, Suotamo said that there’s a place for everyone in the world – big or small – and that’s what Chewie represents.
Throughout the panel, photos of the characters, the creatures, and ships were shown, including new creatures like Klaud, who Chewie brought in to the Resistance. As things were coming to an end, BB-8 introduced his new friend, Dio, a smaller droid set on one wheel with a cone shaped top piece.
After the guests left the stage, the audience was treated to the first teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, which ended with some menacing laughter that could only belong to one Sith. After the trailer ended, Ian McDiarmid strolled onto the stage, confirming the suspicion that Palpatine was responsible for that laughter. As the crowd went ballistic, McDiamid said, “Roll it again,” and the trailer played once more for the excited fans.