The final ‘Star Wars’ movie in the triple-trilogy Skywalker saga is inching closer to its December release date, and its latest tease came Wednesday, sprinkled with on-set photos by famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.
The behind-the-scenes look came by way of Vanity Fair, which features Episode IX’s principle characters Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on its summer issue’s dual covers.
JJ Abrams, who directs Disney and Lucasfilm’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, boasts about the franchise’s place in the zeitgeist and about filming the latest instalment in the otherworldly Wadi Rum desert in Jordan — a shooting decision deliberately made to give the space opera the authenticity of George Lucas’ first films.
Abrams’ is the last film in the latest trilogy, which he launched in 2015 with ‘The Force Awakens’. The filmmaker has been tasked with concluding the 42-year saga of the Skywalker family. (After that, the ‘Game of Thrones’ guys will tell their ‘Star Wars’ story.)
“That’s the challenge of this movie,” Abrams told Lev Grossman. “It wasn’t just to make one film that as a standalone experience would be thrilling, and scary, and emotional, and funny, but one that if you were to watch all nine of the films, you’d feel like, Well, of course — that!”
Though little is known about the plot of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, it’s expected that the Resistance and the First Order are headed toward a final showdown, presumably bringing a conclusion to the millennia-long conflict between the Jedi Order and the Sith. It could also fortify or diminish the “maybe-bond” between Kylo and Rey, Driver said.
As for Leibovitz, she first photographed the cast of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ for Rolling Stone back in 1980. Then, since ‘The Phantom Menace’ in 1999, Leibovitz has visited the set and shot portraits from each ‘Star Wars’ film.
Her latest outing features a glimpse of Keri Russell in character as the masked Zorri Bliss and Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux and Richard E Grant’s villainous Allegiant General Pryde of the First Order are also revealed.
Other Leibovitz stills show the mysterious Knights of Ren, as well as ‘Star Wars’ veteran Billy Dee Williams, 82, reprising his role as the charismatic Lando Calrissian. He returns to pilot the Millennium Falcon alongside Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Chewbacca and the droid BB-8.