Highlights from David Kamp’s Reddit AMA About His Vanity Fair Coverage of The Last Jedi

Today we were treated to Vanity Fair‘s incredible coverage of The Last Jedi. Author and writer David Kamp and legendary portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once again did an incredible job beautifully providing so much fantastic content and information! In addition to this, David Kamp was kind enough to do a Reddit AMA, continue on to see the best highlights from his AMA in addition to our thoughts on his answers, as well as Lucasfilm Story Group’s own Pablo Hidalgo’s follow up to some of the information released today!

 

 

When asked if there was any production overlap between The Last Jedi and either of the standalone films:

I spent some time with Kiri Hart, who is the head of Lucasfilm’s story group, up in San Francisco, and she said that Rian Johnson was working on TLJ at more or less the same time that Gareth Edwards was working on Rogue One. I don’t know that there was creative overlap, but I think that, for the story group, it led to some especially productive weeks and months. The two projects fed off of each other in that regard, energy-wise. As for the young Han Solo movie, I think Rian was too busy with TLJ to cross over into their process. By the way, Kathleen Kennedy told me that we should expect an announcement fairly soon about what the next one-off Star Wars story film will be—the one that will come out (they hope) in 2020.

 

 

On the cast chemistry and whether the older more experienced actors provided any tips for the younger castmembers:

In some of the web extras going up on Vanity Fair’s site tomorrow, there’s a little more on this subject. One leitmotif is that everyone who is not Adam Driver says that Adam Driver is uncommonly intense on set. He’s really all-in on becoming Kylo Ren. John Boyega told me that he likes to try to break the Kylo spell by running up to driver and giving him unexpected hugs. But evidently, it doesn’t shake Driver.

We’ll begin posting web extras tomorrow at 6 AM EST

 

 

 

On what he has heard about Benicio Del Toro’s unnamed character (DJ among the production staff):

I can’t speak to the size of Del Toro’s part. Johnson kept describing him as “shady,” and Del Toro told Annie Leibovitz and her crew that he borrowed some mannerisms for his character from Tom Waits. The character’s name is never made explicit in TLJ (at least that’s what Johnson says), but the filmmakers refer to him as DJ, and Johnson promises that we as viewers will understand why he is known as DJ.

 

 

 

What did he find out about Snoke?

I asked Rian Johnson about Snoke—Who/what is he?—and Rian was fairly up front in saying that Snoke is not a character he particularly gets into in TLJ. Hmmm.

 

 

 

His biggest surprise from speaking with the cast and crew, specifically Rian Johnson:

Biggest surprise to me is how much creative leeway Lucasfilm is giving Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow to write their films and make up plot and characters from scratch. I had presumed (wrongly) that JJ Abrams and Larry Kasdan might have sketched out an arc for the entirety of the current trilogy. But as Rian Johnson told me, it really was a creative handoff—“Over to you, Rian.” And Rian is handing off to Colin Trevorrow in the same way. He said he’s made a mess that Colin will somehow have to clean up.

 

 

 

On how he thinks Lucasfilm will deal with the absence of Carrie Fisher after her untimely passing:

When I was doing these interviews, it was still Feb, March, April, and bear in mind that Carrie Fisher died only on Dec 27—still not that long ago. So it was a little heavy, dealing with people who are grieving but have to get back to work. The original plan was, as Kathleen Kennedy put it, for Episode IX to be “Carrie’s film,” in the sense that VII was Harrison Ford’s film and VIII is Mark Hamill’s film. As I was speaking with Kennedy, she said that Colin Trevorrow and the Lucasfilm Story Group were working on reconceiving the Episode IX script. I don’t think that they would consider recasting the role, and Kennedy seemed emphatic in asserting that they wouldn’t use the tech they used in Rogue One to reanimate Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. I suspect, though I don’t know for sure, that Leia will not appear in Episode IX, and her absence/death will be alluded to in some elegant way.

 

 

 

Regarding the tone and feeling of The Last Jedi:

It’s definitely darker. Kathleen Kennedy described the natural arc of each trilogy as “Setup; Conflict; Resolution.” That makes TLJ the “Conflict” chapter. And if you look at two of Johnson’s movies, Brick and Looper, they have a dark, dystopian quality to them. But also a lot of humor. Johnson is aware that his movie by its very nature is dark—he used the word “operatic” with me—but he is also conscious of not wanting it to be a “dirge.” So he has gone out of his way to leaven the movie with humor. I don’t know exactly how, but he says there’s a lot of humor in the film.

 

I should add that Johnson really wanted to create something that was visually new for a Star Wars film: a fancy place where the swells of the galaxy hang out. If you think about it, the Star Wars visual vocabulary is full of desolate deserts and frozen tundra and scrapyards full of disused and broken droids. He thought, “Let’s go upscale, let’s go Monte Carlo!” The result is the casino city of Canto Bight, which you can catch a glimpse of in some of our photos in the new issue.

 

 

 

In a closing remark, David reminded us that he too is a fan himself and what is the fun is spoiling everything before seeing it?

Hey gang, it’s been such a pleasure answering your questions. Like you, I don’t want to know too much about TLJ because the joy is experiencing it in the theater. I already know too much for my own tastes. But I really hope you’ll enjoy all the stuff we’ve laid out for you in the magazine and on VF’s web site. Ciao. —David

David Kamp

 

You can find the complete AMA session here.

 

So what do we all think? Are we finally getting the Obi-Wan announcement we’ve all been hoping for? Will Snoke be missing in action for much of The Last Jedi? What will Lucasfilm do with Leia going forward? What do you think Del Toro’s character will wind up bringing to the table?

Remember, Kamp revealed there is more to come 6am US EST tomorrow so keep it right here, we’ll be sure to cover all of the best bits and pieces for you, and be sure to go to Vanity Fair via the links posted in this piece for their complete and full coverage.

 

 

PABLO HIDALGO’S FOLLOW UP

 

Pablo Hidalgo, the Lucasfilm Story Group man himself added some interesting bits of information here. Highlights are:

 

On Laura Dern’s character:

Hidalgo confirms that Dern’s character, a high-ranking officer in the Resistance, is human. The magenta hair, he says, has to do with her “cultural background.”

 

On the Canto Bight residents:

What we’re going to see in The Last Jedi,” Hidalgo explains, “are some people who have managed to carve out a life for themselves where they can live apart from the galactic struggle. They found a way to live above it or beyond it. There’s a class of wealthy that have helped build all sorts of loopholes in society that will always ensure that they’ll survive or even thrive no matter what else is happening out there.”

 

On Phasma and her new weapon:

Phasma’s accessory is a retractable pole arm that collapses into a smaller, easy to carry form should she ever find herself shoved down a trash compactor again. This weapon, Hidalgo says, has a strong connection to Phasma’s history, which will be explored in a comic-book series out in September. “Her background,” Hidalgo hints, “is more low-tech than many would assume.”

 

 

And in case you were wondering, nope, that’s not a Bothan:

 

 

 
“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”

You can find me on twitter @JohnnyHoey

 

 

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John Hoey is the Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net and the host of The Resistance Broadcast podcast

"For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."

John Hoey

John Hoey is the Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net and the host of The Resistance Broadcast podcast"For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."

47 thoughts on “Highlights from David Kamp’s Reddit AMA About His Vanity Fair Coverage of The Last Jedi

  • May 25, 2017 at 12:33 am
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    we will find out why he is referred to as DJ, i know that pablo hidalgo has kind of disproved this but Dark Jedi really seems to fit, that or he is the new DJ for the casino

    • May 25, 2017 at 10:30 am
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      I was also thinking “DJ” might refer to something music related. Maybe he’s some kind of shady concert promoter or music director (or maybe even a musician) for some of the casinos on Canto Bight and he has some connection to the criminal underworld or something? They did mention that Del Toro said he partially based his character on Tom Waits – who is a musician. If so, it really sounds unconventional for a Star Wars film, but unconventional seems like Rian Johnson’s style.

      • May 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm
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        Heath Ledger’s voice for the Joker was also based off Tom Waits. It’s mannerisms, not his occupation.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm
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      No such thing as a dark Jedi.

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:04 am
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    I agree. I’am all for new aliens, but they really need to add some old aliens from first 6 movies too.
    I find it strange that only humans are everywere.

    • May 25, 2017 at 4:09 am
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      I noticed this with TFA and so far it seems to be the case with TLJ. Almost all the aliens seen in these new movies seem to be new. I’m fine with new but the near total absence of ones we’ve seen before seems odd. Not even a single Rodian! We did briefly see two Twi-leks in Rogue One and Mon Calamari, but I think that’s literally been it beyond Chewie and Nien Nunb, two singular, named ones. It’s to such an extent it almost feels like maybe there is some legal reason they can’t use the old aliens? Maybe their likenesses were not part of the package when Disney bought LFL? Seems unlikely but it all seems odd. Scanlan is skilled no doubt, but I have to say the aesthetics of the new aliens seems to be not quite right…

      • May 25, 2017 at 4:20 am
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        Read Rian’s “tweets and replies”

        • May 25, 2017 at 4:29 am
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          ??? Not seeing anything relevant to this discussion…

      • May 25, 2017 at 10:20 am
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        Here here! Bring back the Ewoks! Or at least the giant Praying Mantis from the Mos Eisley Cantina! Throw us a bone Lucasfilm!

        Seriously though, I’ve been fine so far with the aliens we’ve seen in the ST (other than those stupid mosquito creatures we saw briefly at Maz’s Castle in TFA). I agree I would like to see a few more familiar old ones sprinkled in here and there, but it’s not really a big deal to me. It’s a big galaxy, and not ALL alien species have to be everywhere ALL the time…

      • May 26, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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        I agree. Most of the new aliens in the ST don’t have the charm or organic look that aliens from the OT and PT had. Most of the new species from the latest Vanity Fair look more like nightmare fuel than anything else.
        Whoever designed the old aliens needs to be brought back on.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm
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      Didn’t bother you during the OT?

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:27 am
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    So no Snoke explanation? I wonder if giving directors absolute freedom will mean each movie will fell disconnected? We can already see that production-design-wise, this is nothing like TFA. (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    • May 25, 2017 at 3:43 am
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      They don’t have absolute freedom. The Story Group rules over all.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:27 pm
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      The movie isn’t out yet. Wait and see.

    • May 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm
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      There must be an outline of how the story ends up, and the ultimate fates of the characters. I refuse to believe they’re making it up as they go along.

      • May 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm
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        Even if they are, maybe that’s not a bad thing. George Lucas made up the OT as he went along, and that turned out alright.

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:44 am
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    But then fans would complain that the movie is a rehash. There’s no pleasing the fans.

    • May 25, 2017 at 10:55 am
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      Of course there’s no pleasing the fans – not until a new Star Wars movie is released that can time travel all of us jaded, cynical adults back to our childhoods to enjoy it with the same wide-eyed wonder and openness that most of us did with (at least some of) the older films. Is that really too much to ask? To quote Lord Business from The Lego Movie – “All I’m asking for, is total perfection.”

      I kid. But the knife cuts both ways. While I don’t think over-analysis and nit-picking every little detail is conducive to one enjoying the new films, that doesn’t mean that we have to blindly love and accept absolutely everything that Lucasfilm cranks out. It’s ok to critique art, just try not to go overboard. I think that’s hard for passionate Star Wars fans like us.

      • May 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm
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        I TOTALLY agree with your first paragraph bw. Lots of people are confused in thinking that if the new film were just “more like the originals” or if the new films were just “more original”, then they will have that same awe struck feeling that they had when they were 7 and watching A New Hope for the first time. I want that feeling too.

        I hate to break it to you all but, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

      • May 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm
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        I agree. I just get a bit frustrated when fans constantly whine about wanting originality and then constantly whine when they get it. I know it’s not all the same people, but still. Like you said, we’re never going to get perfection. Except for ESB.

      • May 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm
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        I agree. I just get a bit frustrated when fans constantly whine about wanting originality and then constantly whine when they get it. I know it’s not all the same people, but still. Like you said, we’re never going to get perfection. Except for ESB.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm
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      I think a lot of folks really, really overestimate the impact that this sort of whining and complaining has. I’d imagine that Internet complaining is pretty much white noise when it comes to the folks at Lucasfilm; if any of them pay any attention to it at all – which is highly doubtful. Sure, some folks are repeatedly vocal about this or than nonsense online, but they’re mostly anonymous folks with generic gripes. Talk is cheap.

      And let’s be honest. The vast majority of those folks are going to see these movies; probably multiple times. Anyone that bothers to visit sites like this on a regular basis and claims they won’t see this or that Star Wars movie is lying through their teeth.

      There are lost of folks here trying to carry flags for “the fans” which is pretty laughable.

      • May 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm
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        Agreed.

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:46 am
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    More like those shitty Dune sequel TV movies that Scy-Fy made.

    • May 25, 2017 at 3:40 am
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      Those films pair well with the shitty comments you come vomit up on this forum.

      • May 25, 2017 at 7:31 pm
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        Hey guys let’s take it easy with the insults, thanks for reading!

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:52 pm
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      Those movies are actually good.

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:48 am
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    Probably the only time we will ever see the twins together in the ST.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:49 am
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      Pretty safe to say that Leia gets fridged in this one too if IX really was going to be her film and she “goes off to her home planet” Poochie style in this one.

      • May 25, 2017 at 3:40 am
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        Not much they can do about it.

      • May 25, 2017 at 10:12 am
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        “Poochie style”…..that made me chuckle.

      • May 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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        That’s not what fridged means.

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:56 am
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    I’m down with little Snoke in this one. The Emperor never got much, and he was the Emperor. Who is this Snoke guy anyway?!

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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      Exactly. Which is why we want to know.

  • May 25, 2017 at 4:05 am
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    I noticed this with TFA and so far it seems to be the case with TLJ. Almost all the aliens seen in these new movies seem to be new. I’m fine with new but the near total absence of ones we’ve seen before seems odd. Not even a single Rodian! We did briefly see two Twi-leks in Rogue One and Mon Calamari, but I think that’s literally been it beyond Chewie and Nien Nunb, two singular, named ones. It’s to such an extent it almost feels like maybe there is some legal reason they can’t use the old aliens? Maybe their likenesses were not part of the package when Disney bought LFL? Seems unlikely but it all seems odd. Scanlan is skilled no doubt, but I have to say the aesthetics of the new aliens seems to be not quite right.

  • May 25, 2017 at 5:16 am
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    “Hidalgo confirms that Dern’s character, a high-ranking officer in the Resistance, is human. The magenta hair, he says, has to do with her “cultural background.” Could this perhaps be Sabine? Sabine does love her different color hair and one could consider it part of her culture. If Sabine is still alive she would likely be a very high ranking officer in the Resistance as well.

    • May 25, 2017 at 5:36 am
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      She is not Sabine.

    • May 25, 2017 at 10:11 am
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      And if Sabine were alive wouldn’t she be like 80 years old by now? People always seem to forget it’s been more than 50 years since the Clone Wars.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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      No, it’s not Sabine. Sabine is not white.

      • May 26, 2017 at 7:13 pm
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        To be fair, it seems like Lucasfilm can’t quite decide what Sabine’s “Earth race” is supposed to be. She looks South Asian, but her mom and brother look pretty East Asian. either way, you’re right. She’s not white.

        • May 26, 2017 at 7:56 pm
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          Yes, which is all I said. I wasn’t sure what her Earth race is but I know she ain’t Laura Dern’s haha.

    • May 25, 2017 at 7:27 pm
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      Alternatively its a brand new character with purple hair. Just putting it out there.

  • May 25, 2017 at 9:40 am
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    Star Wars! Not some generic space movie! Come on Disney, give us some continuity of characters, I know u want it to be your own but then it’s not Star Wars! You already cheated us out of reuniting the cast which is WHAT WE ALL WANTED!

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm
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      “You already cheated us out of reuniting the cast which is WHAT WE ALL WANTED”

      Speak for yourself.

    • May 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm
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      WTF

    • May 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm
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      I agree with your comment on feeling cheated, but I’m not sure what you mean about generic space movie?

  • May 25, 2017 at 2:52 pm
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    “Can’t we see the same stuff we already have seen!”

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