With the release of the Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker this month, we talk all things about that “galaxy far, far away” to four of the actors helping the Resistance take on The First Order in the third chapter of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and the final episode of the nine-part Skywalker saga. May The Force be with you…
Tell us about your first reaction to the script and wrapping up the Skywalker Saga.
When I first read the script and I got to the end, I was so overcome with emotion because it had a finality to it. It was just hard to imagine that Star Wars could ever have that. What J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio did with the script was a monumental task – they had to find a way to encompass the entire Skywalker Saga that’s lasted for 40-plus years. To find a way to meaningfully make it all feel both surprising and also inevitable is exactly what they’ve done.
Describe your first day on set.
My first day on set was in the Millennium Falcon next to Joonas as Chewbacca. There were these crazy new aliens in there, and J.J. [Abrams] was yelling all sorts of stuff at me to do this and do that. There was just such a great energy to it. J.J. brings so much fun to the set and there’s lots of music in between takes. J.J. will beat-box randomly onto the microphone and tell really dumb jokes. It just gives a looseness and reminds us that we’re playing in this imaginary world.
Tell us about Poe getting to fly the Millennium Falcon.
I was very excited. Poe has been a lone wolf – he thinks he can fly anything, but the Millennium Falcon is a very specific hunk of junk. It’s a very complicated and complex piece of machinery. It’s very old, and it is very fast, so Poe needs a co-pilot. So he’s working with Chewie for the first time – he doesn’t speak great Wookiee, so that’s another challenge.
We get to see more of Poe and his past this time around, too, right?
J.J. told me before we started that he wanted to dirty up Poe’s sheen of the Resistance-perfect hero. He wanted him to have a bit of a past. So, I was really excited about that because people aren’t always exactly what they seem. Poe has this life as a Resistance fighter and hero pilot, but he had to come from somewhere, and he’s had to have been on a search. So, the fact we get to go back to when he was a young, scrappy guy, figuring it out in in Kijimi is really fun, and particularly that you get to experience this through an amazing new character named Zorii who Keri Russell plays.
One of his toughest challenges for Poe in The Rise of Skywalker is assuming the leadership of the Resistance. How daunting
a prospect was this for him.
Poe finds himself inheriting a Resistance that’s on the brink of collapse. He feels completely lost. He doesn’t even know if there’s anything to lead at this point. And that’s the incredible moment when Lando shows up and reminds him about family and about friends and about not being alone. That’s all that you can put your faith in the end.
What are you most excited to see on screen for this film?
There’s so much, but I think the last battle. I can imagine action when I read it in a script, but I can’t really imagine exactly what they’re going to do. While filming, I started to see the scale of it, and it was bigger than anything I could have ever thought of. So, I’m just real excited to see how that all comes together on screen, and to hear all the new music that John Williams is doing for the film.
Looking back over the trilogy,
what surprised you most about this whole experience?
I was surprised by the passion of the fans and how that never seems to waver. You come to things like Celebration or D23 or Comic Con, and you see just how much it has meant to people over the years – the Star Wars lineage and history is also passed on to their kids. I’m also surprised to feel like I am a real part of that lineage and that history. It’s not just these three movies, but that it has been this long, beautiful arc over these last 40-plus years. It’s more than just a movie. It’s a real part of our language, and it’s very surreal to see that.
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