'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' – what we know so far about the final film in the trilogy
Return to a galaxy far, far away
Following the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s time to think about its follow-up, Episode 9. Ahead of its release in 2019, here’s what we know about the final film in the new Skywalker trilogy. Spoilers follow for The Last Jedi…
- Daisy Ridley teases that the final film will feature “one of the most epic fights” in Star Wars
- Adam Driver talks of a “maybe-bond” between Ren and Rey
- Epic, new promotional photos have been shared
- Daisy Ridley rubbishes rumours of a Rey-Kylo romance
- New Star Wars teaser trailer confirms name of Episode 9 will be The Rise of Skywalker
- Oscar Isaac confirms that Episode 9 will conclude the “entire Skywalker saga”
- Mark Hamill thinks the late Carrie Fisher would “get a real kick out” of her inclusion in Episode 9
- John Boyega shares emotional Instagram post as Episode 9 filming comes to an end.
- J.J. Abrams shares set photo as filming wraps
- Will the first trailer confirm the return of Luke Skywalker?
- John Boyega has seemingly teased a time-jump following the events of the Last Jedi.
- A leaked storyboard from the upcoming film has fans speculating that Rey may die at the end of Star Wars Episode 9
- A leak description of the film’s concept art hints that another Death Star-style superweapon could feature
- Matt Smith joins the cast
- Dominic Monaghan joins the cast
- Leaked photos from the set give a first look at Finn, Poe and more
- A new, rumoured title has emerged
More from NME
Star Wars Episode 9: what’s the release date?
December 20, 2019
The film was originally set to be released on May 24, but production issues in August and September 2017 – including director and screenwriter changes – has pushed the film’s schedule back by six months.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill is counting down to the movie:
So far we haven’t seen a trailer, but it’s claimed that it could act as the first introduction to Luke Skywalker’s return as a force ghost after he seemingly perished at the end of the last film.
YouTuber Mike Zeroh claims: “What’s really exciting involving the teaser trailer has to do with the format and exactly how they will be marketing the movie.
What is the title of Episode 9?
The next instalment is called The Rise of Skywalker, as confirmed with the release of a teaser trailer in April 2019.
Who’s directing Episode 9?
Colin Trevorrow – the man behind the $1bn-making blockbuster Jurassic World – was set to direct but crashed out of the project in September to be replaced by The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams.
Who wrote the script?
In August 2017, Jack Thorne – most famous for working with J.K. Rowling on the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – began rewriting the untitled Star Wars Episode IX, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In September 2017 it was reported that the film was now being rewritten by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Argo, Chris Terrio, and J.J. Abrams – meaning Thorne has presumably been replaced.
When did filming start?
In an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, J.J. Abrams confirmed that shooting started towards the end of July 2018 – and that the script had been finished. “We have a script, which is a big deal for me,” he said. “It starts shooting end of July. Sometimes having the script in advance is something I haven’t always been lucky enough to have.”
Filming was confirmed to have wrapped in February 2018.
Have we seen any photos?
Yes. Photos have leaked from the set showing Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and more. The characters are pictured in a field, accompanied by some very shaggy horses. Fans have speculated a figure in the photos could be newcomer Naomi Ackie but the quality of the images make it too hard to tell.
J.J. Abrams also celebrated the end of filming by sharing a set photo featuring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac. In the picture, the three are involved in what looks like an emotional hug on a sandy planet.
“It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on Episode IX,” Abrams captioned the post. “There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I’m forever indebted to you all.”
John Boyega also shared the photo along with an emotional post about his experience filming the trilogy. On Instagram, Boyega wrote: “That’s a wrap on Star Wars episode 9 and the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn’t be more thankful for. What a process! It really has been a joy to be in these movies surrounded by amazing people. I personally want to thank @jjabramsofficial for giving me a chance to make my dreams come true.”
He also shared a photo from the ‘Wrap Party’ as filming came to an end:
On May 22, Vanity Fair shared epic promotional images from the movie as part of its ‘ultimate’ preview.
John Boyega shared some of the images on his Twitter, including one of his character, Finn, riding Orbaks into battle with new character, Jannah (Naomi Ackie).
Who’s in Episode 9?
Disney confirmed much of the cast list last July. Returning cast members include: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd.
Veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams – who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian – also star in the film.
Newcomers to the cast include Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.
Lord Of The Rings and Lost star Dominic Monaghan has also been confirmed to appear in the movie. “The galaxy far, far away has had almost as much influence as the one I live in, so I am delighted to be involved,” he told Deadline. No details about his role have been announced at present.
It’s been confirmed that Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith will also appear in the forthcoming film. However, details of his character are being kept firmly under wraps and it’s not known whether he’ll be on the side of the evil empire or the rebels.
The late Carrie Fisher will posthumously play General Leia Organa in the movie. She will be featured in the new film using previously unreleased footage which was shot for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” Abrams said in July last year. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honour Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
“It’s hard to even talk about it without sounding like I’m being some kind of cosmic spiritual goofball,” the director told Vanity Fair. “But it felt like we suddenly had found the impossible answer to the impossible question. It has a bizarre kind of left side/right side of the brain sort of Venn diagram thing, of figuring out how to create the puzzle based on the pieces we had.”
Hamill paid tribute to his late co-star on July 29, 2018 following the news, writing on Twitter that it was “bittersweet to be facing my final chapter without her – she is irreplaceable”. See his tribute below.
Hamill also told the Radio Times in March 2019 that he believes Fisher would “get a real kick out” of starring in Episode 9.
“Something tells me she’d get a real kick out of the fact she had a hit movie years after she left us,” he said. “That was just her.”
Additionally, Hamill revealed that he still finds it difficult to watch his final scene with her in The Last Jedi, where Luke says farewell to sister Leia before facing Kylo Ren.
He said: “When I watch that scene when I say goodbye to her, it takes me out of the movie completely.”
“I’d like to think nothing would be better than having her here because she was always fun… She could always make me laugh. I was proud that I could make her laugh. That’s really what it’s all about!”
Although Fisher’s return will come in the form of unused footage, Ant-Man & The Wasp’s Evangeline Lilly has admitted that she wanted to play the role of Leia.
She told fans at a recent convention: “When JJ (Abrams) announced that he was gonna do his first Star Wars film, I reached out to his producing partner for the first time ever since Lost ended.
“I never requested anything ever before, and I said, ‘I wanna be Leia! Make me Leia!'”
Could Luke come back as a Force ghost?
Mark Hamill (Luke) certainly seems to think so. In a tweet posted on March 14, 2018 he included an action figure of his role as Luke in The Last Jedi captioned “Senior Citizen Jedi Pension-Plan Future Force-Ghost Luke” – implying he thinks Luke will be returning as a Force ghost in Episode 9. And it’s not the first time he’s teased his fans about returning for the final movie of the new trilogy.
In 2016, Hamill teased his character’s death in The Last Jedi – but he also stated he’d be back for Episode 9 – another hint that he’ll be returning as Luke’s Force ghost.
Since the release of The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson has since commented on the speculation: “I don’t know where the next movie is going to go. J.J. (Abrams) and Chris Terrio are writing it right now. But it seemed like the potential of Luke crossing into a new realm, that offers exciting possibilities for the role he plays in the coming chapter. No one’s ever really gone. Again, I’m not writing the script, so I don’t know. But as a fan, I would hope [he returns].”
Will we learn anything more about Rey’s parents?
Quite possibly. Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi has said the question of Rey’s parentage remains open after Kylo Ren told her in TLJ that they were “nobodies”.
Asked to explain Kylo Ren’s revelation to Rey in The Last Jedi, Johnson told HuffPost: “The easy thing would be, ‘Yes, your parents are so and so and here’s your place in the world. There you go.’ The hardest thing she could hear would be: ‘No, you’re not going to get the answer. This is not going to define you. You’re going to have to find your own place in this world. Kylo is going to use that even as leverage to try and make you feel insecure, and you’re going to have to stand on your own two feet.'”
However, Johnson said that the question of her parentage could be explored further in episode 9: “Anything’s still open,” he said, “and I’m not writing the next film. [J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] are doing it.”
He also suggested that Kylo Ren’s revelation to Rey might not have been entirely true: “With all of these movies, Obi-Wan’s whole speech about a certain point of view always applies, so I think that you have to always think about the context of how information is given. But for me, dramatically, that’s why that reveal at that moment made sense.”
What do we know about the plot?
Nothing concrete – but we do know that Daisy Ridley cried when she found out about Rey’s fate in a former draft of the script. In
“I introduced him to Daisy Ridley at the SNL after-party,” he explains. “I saw a moment where she said, ‘What happens to me?’ And he said, ‘Do you want to do this now?’ And she said, ‘Yeah,’ and they went off into a corner of the bar and he whispered it into her ear and she started crying.”
It’s obviously unknown what the plot point is, or whether it’s been carried through into J.J. Abrams’ new script – but we can expect The Rise of Skywalker to bring plenty of surprises.
Speaking about the plot in an Awesome Con conference call, John Boyega (Finn) said the movie will be “all out war”. He said: “Regardless of where the story goes – and I haven’t read it, by the way – is going to be all-out war, so I know that I’m going to have to do all I can and train for that.”
Another huge hint comes from John Boyega, who revealed that “the film takes place roughly one year after the events of The Last Jedi” ????”
Now, fans are taking this as proof that a time-jump could occur – after Boyega previously teased a change in his character.
“I can’t wait to start shooting the next and final leg of the franchise. The first step is growing out my hair, so you can wait for the trailer to see why,” said Boyega.
In October 2018, fans noticed that a description of the movie’s concept artwork could point towards a Death Star-style superweapon. The powerful device could play a part in bringing the final film to an explosive and dramatic finale.
The leak reads: “Specifically, a description of Kylo Ren inside his throne room, assumed to be the headquarters of the First Order, viewing a hologram [from] a device held in his hand.
“Kylo appears to be examining three large superweapons that are in a cylindrical shape with an enormous engine on each side of each superweapon of this ship/weapon, destroying terrain on a planet. The engine burner is coloured red and the blast from the bottom of these three massive weapons is coloured blue, impacting a surface causing astronomical destruction. Parts of the weapon seem to be under construction and not finished.”
Fans picked up on the fact that this could be referring to the World Devastators featured in the Star Wars extended universe.
In March 2019, Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) revealed that Episode 9 will be the end of the Skywalker saga.
Speaking to Today, the actor said: “It is the end of the entire Skywalker saga.
“Nine stories. This is the culmination of the entire thing. What J.J. has done, and the entire Lucasfilm team, is incredibly fulfilling.”
He continued: “It’s also special for us because you get to learn a lot more things about these characters.”
Meanwhile, Ridley has rubbished rumours that Rey and Kylo are set for romance in the next instalment of the saga.
Speaking to Steele Wars, she said: “I do know about Reylo…I don’t know how I feel about it, because everyone’s talking about the toxic thing of a relationship when it’s essentially emotional.
“It’s a tricky road. I do feel like, deep down, Kylo thinks what he’s doing is right and he doesn’t think he’s wrong, but he has also killed so many people. So I can’t really get behind it, no, in a personal way.”
In May 2019, Adam Driver spoke to Vanity Fair about a “maybe-bond” between his character, Kylo Ren, and Rey (Daisy Ridley).
He discusses the potential ‘ReyLo’ situation: whether Kylo Ren will end up being in a relationship with Rey, possibly as part of a redemption angle.
“And then he had been forging this maybe-bond with Rey,” Driver said in the interview, “and it kind of ends with the question in the air: is he going to pursue that relationship, or when the door of her ship goes up, does that also close that camaraderie that they were maybe forming?”
Driver doesn’t give too much away but he doesn’t shut the idea down either….
Elsewhere in the Vanity Fair piece, Driver addresses Ren’s emotionally fragile state, citing his parents Han and Leia’s rebellion efforts as part of the reason for his vulnerability. Ren, he argues, essentially grew up under the pressure of living up to unrealistic expectations.
“How do you form friendships out of that? How do you understand the weight of that?” he said. “And if there’s no one around you guiding you, or articulating things the right way … it can easily go awry. By the emotional logic that governs the Star Wars universe—and also our own—Kylo Ren is going to have to confront the past, and his fears, whatever they are, or be destroyed by them.”
Daisy Ridley has said that the film will feature “one of the most epic fights” in Star Wars history.
“The interesting thing about this film is that we concentrate more on the fact that [the lightsabers] are light,” she told
“Because the [old] lightsabers were so heavy, as Eunice [Huthart] said, who is our new stunt coordinator, that it was more like broadsword fighting, which isn’t technically what it’s supposed to be because lightsabers are supposed to be light, by nature.
“So they actually made the lightsabers lighter for us. We, in this film, have, perhaps one of the most epic fights in Star Wars.”
Will we see Han Solo’s dice again?
Yes, probably. In the below official Star Wars video from explaining the secrets of The Last Jedi, it’s revealed that Rian Johnson originally included Han’s gold dice as a reference to The Force Awakens. In a TFA scene that was deleted after Johnson wrote The Last Jedi, Han hangs up the gold dice on the Millennium Falcon when he gets it back. In TLJ, the astral-projected version of Luke gives the gold dice to Leia – and, because that TFA scene was deleted, this now looks like a reference to the dice’s mise-en-scene presence in the original trilogy.
Star Wars story group member Matt Martin teases that the dice will be back in The Rise of Skywalker by saying “wink wink” – catch the moment in the video below, which also explains how the dice are intended to help us mourn Han Solo.
Will John Williams score Episode 9?
Yes, but this is likely to be his last score for the Star Wars sequel.
For a long time it wasn’t clear whether, at the age of 85, Williams would continue in his role of scoring all of the Star Wars saga (to date he has scored Episodes I-VIII, but not the Anthology films). News of his involvement was confirmed in an interview with Variety in January 2018.
“I would very much like to complete that,” he said. “I don’t think you can retire from writing. I feel very lucky, and the work that I do doesn’t depend on much. If your vision’s still good, and your hands – I have no arthritis in my hands and I play the piano very easily – I don’t think there’s any reason to deprive oneself of the fun of working. Music is so rewarding.”
Williams indicated in interview with US radio station KUSC earlier this month that this would be his final Star Wars film. “We know JJ Abrams is preparing one [Star Wars movie] now that I will hopefully do next year for him,” he said. “I look forward it. It will round out a series of nine, that will be quite enough for me.”
Who else is on the crew?
In February 2018, the art director of Blade Runner 2049, Paul Inglis, reportedly joined the crew of Star Wars: Episode 9, suggesting the next Star Wars film’s look will be as strong as the Oscar-nominated design of the huge sci-fi film. His past experience also includes Skyfall, Game of Thrones, and Prometheus. In his role as art director he helps bring the production designer’s vision to life, builds sets and helps curate the look of the film.
When did shooting begin?
In December 2016, Deadline reported that filming won’t begin for ‘about a year’ – which would be late 2017. According to a leaked casting call notice, shooting was set to begin in July 2017. In September 2017, following the departure of Colin Trevorrow – which changed the film’s production timeline – it was confirmed that the film would begin shooting in June 2018. And in February 2018, JJ Abrams verified the summer 2018 filming date in a message to Japan’s D23 Expo.
How will Episode 9 be filmed?
It’s going to be filmed on 65mm format – a first for the series. The Force Awakens was shot on 35mm, and so was The Last Jedi. 65mm film will mean Abrams will be able to work with large frames at higher quality – making the experience similar to IMAX.
What are the latest rumours?
The Millennium Falcon won’t make it through the film
On the latest episode of his podcast, Kevin Smith theorised that Han Solo’s beloved ship won’t make it through The Rise of Skywalker. “They killed Han Solo in The Force Awakens.” he said. “They killed Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. Sadly, Carrie has passed, so they have to deal with the Princess Leia of it all. But what do you think is the next big loss? I think it’s the Falcon. That would really rip all of our hearts out…
“They’ll never kill Chewie,” he continued, “because you could be Chewie for 400 years. It’s a guy in a suit. They can’t kill any of the droids, that could be anybody and stuff. But they’ve got to kill something that makes us go ‘No! I f*cking love that from my childhood!’”
There are rumours circulating amongst fans that (an as yet unconfirmed) leak of a storyboard from the upcoming movie may reveal Rey’s death at the end of The Rise of Skywalker.
” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Mike Zeroh initially) that a series of storyboards have been leaked, reportedly showing the climax of J.J. Abrams trilogy-ender. The storyboards allegedly show Kylo Ren cradling Rey, in a scene echoing Luke’s final scene with Vader in Return of the Jedi. Red is reportedly crying as he cradles Rey and puts his hand on her forehead while destruction rages all around.
You can watch a video in which Mike Zeroh explains the theory more here: