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Star Wars Celebration Europe drops Han Solo and Episode VIII updates

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Story by Jack Foley

LONDON’S Star Wars Celebration Europe event has succeeded in raising anticipation still higher for the new films in the franchise.

Taking place at ExCel from Friday to Sunday, the event was awash with appearances from key franchise personnel, from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s director Gareth Edwards and leading lady Felicity Jones, to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-directors of the Han Solo spin-off.

So, here’s what we learned from what’s being reported around the world wide web so far…

Han Solo

Needless to say, not much was revealed concerning plot, while no footage appeared as filming has yet to commence. But co-directors Lord and Miller did comment on the exhaustive casting process, and how much of a waste of time it proved to be!

Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic captain of the Millennium Falcon, more commonly known as Harrison Ford. The young actor beat off competition from 2,500 young men, having auditioned for about six months.

And he was also unveiled on-stage, to the delight of the Star Wars faithful.

Commenting on the casting process, Ehrenreich said: “The coolest part of that audition process was, I went on the Falcon.”

He also screen tested with Chewbacca, adding: ““I’ve never screen tested with a Wookie. It was amazing.”

As for Miller and Lord, they revealed: “We turned over every rock to find someone who has the charisma and magic swagger. But it was a waste of money because the person to get the part was literally the first person to walk through the door.”

The duo, whose past work includes the 21 Jump Street franchise, went on to reveal that they had moved to London two days ago to begin work on the project – but are still writing the script with Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon.

Filming is then due to begin in late January or early February 2017.

Commenting on the character himself, Lord went on to describe him as a “maverick, a scoundrel … clever but not smart”

“He doesn’t want to do anything that he’s told, and if he’s told not to do something, he only wants to do it more,” he continued. “He’s very sarcastic and yet unreasonably optimistic. He’s basically a cynical guy with the biggest heart in the galaxy and one of the most iconic characters of all time.”

The Han Solo film is expected to be released in 2018.

Star Wars: Episode VIII

Director Rian Johnson also took to the stage in London to drop some nuggets about the follow-up to The Force Awakens. This included the fact that the film will begin just seconds after The Force Awakens ends.

“For the first time, this movie is going to start where the last one left off,” said Johnson.

He went on to reveal that three war films served as the biggest inspirations for Episode VIII: Twelve O’Clock High, Letter Never Sent and The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Johnson singled out Twelve O’Clock High, the 1949 World War II drama staring Gregory Peck, played a particularly big part.

The director, whose work includes the sci-fi chase thriller Looper, was then joined on-stage by Mark Hamill (Luke) and Carrie Fisher (Leia), as well as John Boyega (who played Finn).

But, as ever, plot details or character revelations were scarce. Only Boyega dropped anything of worth, stating: “The characters have been pushed in a new direction in a very, very cool way.”

Filming has now been completed on Episode VIII but Johnson was still able to provide a couple of surprise casting announcements. Namely, that Rogue One director Gareth Edwards will appear in a cameo role alongside cameos from both Lord and Miller, of Han Solo fame.

And Johnson himself will appear in the Rogue One spin-off, appearing as a Death Star operator alongside another of his Episode VIII crew members.

Johnson finished off by showing some photos from behind-the-scenes, including studio shots of the Millennium Falcon – although he was also keen to state that the film was not reliant on green screen, but rather had shot “a tremendous amount” on practical sets.

Star Wars: Episode VIII hits cinemas on December 15, 2017.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Major revelations were admittedly light on this one despite the fact that a celebration reel and new trailer did show Darth Vader for the first time, as well as exciting new footage from the film itself and behind-the-scenes.

Director Gareth Edwards and several cast members, including Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker and Ben Mendelsohn [in costume, flanked by Stormtroopers], also made appearances and spoke about their involvement.

The biggest news, of course, was that James Earl Jones, who voiced Vader in the original trilogy, will be back in the new film.

The veteran actor recorded his dialogue in New York last December, prompting Edwards to describe the experience as feeling like “an early Christmas present”.

He described how he and his sound recordist had a “nerd-gasm” when they heard Jones say the word “power” in his deep, distinctive voice.

A new poster for the film also shows a beach battle taking place on the planet Scarif – with the Death Star looming in the sky.

Rogue One tells the story of a group of rebel fighters on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The film, out on December 16, 2016, is the first in a series of on-screen adventures exploring stories outside the core Star Wars saga and takes place before the first part of the original series, Episode IV: A New Hope.

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