The entire weekend has been building to this–the Future Filmmakers panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe. We got some great reveals from both Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels season 3, but we already knew a decent amount about those; we knew next to nothing about Episode VIII or the young Han Solo movie. Now? We know tons.
Pablo Hidalgo was greeted with much fanfare (literally) as he came out to introduce the panelists, who included Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart, who began by talking about last year’s Celebration, and how close Rogue One is to coming out. But looking to the future, Kennedy gushed about Rian Johnson and his ability to move the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.
Johnson discussed beginning Episode VIII while The Force Awakens was being filmed, and it was based solely on the script and dailies, before the cultural phenomenon. He also brought specific movies including Three Outlaw Samurai and Twelve O’Clock High, Gunga Din and the original Sahara. He’s breaking a longstanding tradition of having the next movie starting months ahead, beginning with Rey and Luke’s meeting.
He’s an old school fan who had an intense emotional reaction to being in the Millennium Falcon and truly felt both nostalgia and responsibility in directing legends like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Johnson also loved working with the new cast and getting to explore their characters more deeply.
And despite all the green screen images he shared via social media, there are a ridiculous amount of sets and location, including southwest Ireland. There was also a campus like feeling at Lucasfilm where Johnson, Gareth Edwards, and Dave Filoni would all talk together as their offices were down the hall from each other.
Johnson finished up with a heartfelt thanks to the fans and a pledge for awesomeness to come.
Next, Chris Miller and Phil Lord joined the panel to say that they’ve only just moved to London to keep working on the Han Solo movie with writers Lawrence Kasdan and his son John. They have major reverence for Kasdan, naturally, and they can all do impressions of Larry.
Miller and Lord discussed loving the character of Han Solo, who’s a scoundrel but brave, clever but not smart. And since Han appeared in The LEGO Movie, it’s clearly canon. They also almost appeared in Rogue One, but Miller’s son had a school interview so they had to leave before the scene was shot. But Johnson is in Rogue One as the Death Star gunner, and Edwards will be in Episode VIII. Miller was interning at ILM in the late 90s and is a stormtrooper in the special edition of The Empire Strikes Back.
Casting Han Solo was especially difficult, seeing over 3,000 actors for the role. Charisma and swagger was integral. The process was useless because Alden Ehrenreich was the first person to audition. And then he came out on stage! Ehrenreich got to go out on the Falcon during the process and he was suitably awe inspiring.
Cameras will likely roll in late January or early February after six more months of prep. Johnson shared that he wishes he could keep filming, envious of their journey to come.
And then John Boyega came out!!! But is Finn okay? No one’s telling. But probably he is. Boyega says he’s not changed too much since being cast, still a huge dork. He thinks Alden is way cool for becoming Han Solo. He and Johnson gush about cast member Kelly Marie Tran, whom fans will meet down the line.
While there was nothing too terribly newsy in the panel, it was a delight to get confirmation on Alden Ehrenreich (even though I didn’t realize it hadn’t been), and how can anyone not like Fisher, Hamill, and Boyega? We’re gonna have great few years of Star Wars movies ahead.
Been a good, long, weekend at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and I’ll dream about it on the flight home.
Featured image: Lucasfilm
Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and was at Star Wars Celebration all weekend long!Follow him on Twitter!