Empire’s special Star Wars: The Force Awakens edition is out now and we’ve read it. It’s a great issue with lots of new tiny bits and piece here and there that are really interesting. We’ll share with you some of those, but if you want the full experience, make sure to grab a copy and read it yourself. Those covers look great!
Excerpts from Empire:
J.J. Abrams’ inspiration for TFA:
Before he started The Force Awakens, Abrams watched some movies. No, not those ones, Other ones. He looked at “the confidence” of John Ford Westerns. He took in the “unbelievable scene choreography and composition” of Kurosawa’s High and Low. And he studied “the powerful stillness” of Terrence Malick. “It’s not something I would normally have thought of coming to Star Wars,” he says. The spare visual style of Ford, Kurosawa and Malick points to a key mandate for Abrams’ approach to Episode VII: the distinctive less-is-more quality of the originals.
A different take on the Snoke explanation:
On his first day playing the First Order’s enigmatic overlord, Andy Serkis found himself atop a towering podium. His co-stars, Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson, were 25 feet below. Yet he had no idea what Snoke even looked like. “It was quite an unusual situation,” he says, calling Empire from a Canadian “middle of nowhere” where he’s shooting War For The Planet Of The Apes. “It was one of the most scary film experiences I’ve ever had.”
Whether Snoke is a two-storey-tall giant or a floating spectre, Serkis confirms he is definitely an alien we haven’t seen before, and the Emperor Palpatine of this series. “Exactly that. And he’s severely damaged. Although he is a powerful leader, he comes across as vulnerable.Very scarred and disfigured.”
J.J. Abrams was wary of having any CG characters in his proudly analogue Star Wars vision, though with such an “extreme look”, as Serkis puts it, he realised it was the only way to do Snoke.
What is a Force Back in TFA:
If filming started with the light side (filming in Abu Dhabi), it ended with the dark. At 21:30 on November 6, 2014, at Pinewood on S Stage, TFA wrapped with Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren unleashing a ‘Force Back’. Don’t run to Wookieepedia – a Force Back is a term used by the crew to describe…
“We’ll just let that dangle, shall we?” says Kennedy.
The lightsaber fights in TFA:
For Abrams the lightsaber battles in Episode 1 to 3 were “increasingly spectacular and stylised, almost like dance choreography”. So when he came to stage runaway stormtrooper Finn versus baddie Kylo Ren in a snowy forest, he went back to the source.
“When you look at Star Wars and Empire, they are very different lightsaber battles, but for me they felt more powerful because they were not quite as slick. I was hoping to go for something much more primitive, aggressive and rougher, a throwback to the kind of heart-stopping lightsaber fights I remembered being so enthralled by as a kid.”
Things that didn’t make the last trailer:
1. Lupita Nyong’o’s pirate queen Maz Kanata:
“She has been a smuggler for a long time and has been running this watering hole for a thousand years. She is the sort of barkeep you go for help,” says Abrams. Kanata’s castle, also glimpsed in the trailer, is festooned with flags that chart a history of Star Wars tribes and factions.
2.Andy Serkis’ Big Bad, Supreme Leader Snoke:” I will say this one spoiler-y thing: he was critical in the seduction of Ren to the dark side. he is a hugely important part of the story and will continue to be.”
3. And of course, Luke Skywalker, the no-show poster boy of The Force Awakens. “I love that anyone cares,” Abrams says about the Jedi’s absence. “It was always the thought to keep our powder dry but it wasn’t to make people crazy. We did it because it was appropriate for the story.”
Mark Hamill on Luke:
Rest assured, Luke will appear in TFA, although it’s a fair bet that he won’t quite be the innocent farm boy we met back in A New Hope. “Obviously you’re seeing him in a very different time in his life,” says Hamill. “There are lots of surprises in this movie. You’re going to love it.”
If scuttlebutt is to be believed, much of TFA will concern the search for the reclusive Luke, and there’s a prevailing theory that Hamill spends a large part of the movie by himself. Certainly, Hamill’s strongest memory of shooting the movie supports that. “It reminded me of when I was in Tunisia on the salt flats. If you could get into your own mind and shut out the crew and look at the horizon , you really felt like you were in a galaxy far, far away. I had that same wave of emotion happen to me when I was on Skellig Michael in Ireland. I wasn’t anticipating it.”
Expect Luke’s seclusion to end at some point, and for the original trio of Luke, Han and Leia to be reunited. Because another thing Hamill says he “could never have anticipated” was working once more with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
This last sentence is particularly interesting. It’s probably just a speculation by Empire, but seeing Luke united with Carrie and Harrison on the big screen will be really amazing. But at the same time it will be against some common rumors about the fate of these characters.
I am on set as a consultant, acting as a sounding board for J.J., who is making tweaks to the already wonderful screenplay. My computer is open in Final Draft and, at the top of my screen, the scene heading reads, “INT. S-REDACTED-R – Day”. I hear a familiar voice and turn to see Mark walking onto set, looking trim and cool, with a beard that he grumbles about but makes him look handsome and Jedi-like. When they shot Luke placing his robotic hand on R2’s head, a moment glimpsed in the trailer, I sat at the monitors with Mark’s family and marvelled at the huge significance of the moment.
This is actually the first official confirmation that it is indeed Luke who puts his hand on Artoo. The scene name mentioned by Pegg is probably not connected with the scene they were filming, since it was an exterior shot. It’s probably a scene that involved a Star Destroyer or Starkiller base.
Empire also revealed that during the interview Hamill was preparing to go into Bad Robot’s Santa Monica offices to start recording DVD extras for the film!
Adam Driver on how he got contacted for the role:
Two years ago, J.J. Abrams saw Driver in Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls, and invited him to Bad Robot HQ in California to discuss the role of Kylo Ren, Darth Vader’s dark-side heir. They talked about it for a couple of months, then Driver said he’d think about it. Wait, he had to think about Star Wars? “As a fan of the movies you don’t want to do a bad job,” he reasons.
Adam Driver on Kylo Ren:
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan says, “There’s never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays.” Most peopledescribe Kylo Ren as the movie’s villain but Driver thinks that the really worrying bad guys are the ones who believe they’re good. Beware the righteous fanatic. “When they think their actions are morally justified it makes them dangerous and unpredictable. There’s no level they won’t go to accomplish what they’re after. I never thought of the character as an evil person.”
Adam Driver on seeing TFA:
Adam Driver might be the only Star Wars fan in the world who isn’t planning to see TFA. It’s not that he doesn’t think it will be good, it’s just that he doesn’t want to see himself in it. The last time he tried was with the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis in 2013. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s bad.'” he says, “I can’t help but see things I wanted to do differently. I was there. That’s good enough for me.”
So might he make an exception for the most anticipated film of the year? He laughs awkwardly. “I would like to, yeah. I am still debating it. Eventually I have to watch something.”
Harrison Ford on TFA:
Will you be back for Episode VIII?
You can’t ask that question
Do you mean you can’t answer it?
No. You can’t ask it. We’ve already established that we both thnk it’s bst to allow the audience to experience the story rather than be told about it in advance. It doesn’t serve the audience for me to answr direct questions about outcomes.
Have you seen the finished film yet?
I’ve seen a good bit of it, in various stages.
And I think it’s going to be a great ride.
Ford on Lucas’ involvement with TFA:
What was it like being back in the SW universe without the guiding hand of George Lucas?
George was involved in the development of the script. It had George’s genius behind it, and he left us in a very good position to pass things on to a new director. I was very comfortable with J. J., having known him since he wrote Regarding Henry. He was very involved in that production. I felt George had made his choices and I was comfortable with that as well.
Peter Mayhew on the touching first meeting with Harrison Ford on TFA set:
“I was sitting in my trailer, he says,” recalling his first day on set of TFA. “There was a knock on the door and someone shouted, ‘Where’s that walking carpet?’ It was Harrison. He came in, gave me a big hug and said. ‘Welcome back.'”
There are many, many more interesting details in this issue, but we don’t want to spoil everything. We definitely recommend buying this one. You won’t regret it.