new star wars: the force awakens photos

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in just over two weeks. It premieres in 12 days. Director J.J. Abrams has reached picture lock, the point where editing is finished and only the final visual effects and sound touch-ups remain. It is now a real movie that actually exists and will be in theaters soon, not a batch of trailers or a gallery of on-set photographs or a figment of our collective imagination. It’s almost here, people.

So you may want to tread cautiously around Rolling Stone’s deep dive into the film, which takes the reader behind the scenes of the film’s post-production process and squeezes a few sweet, juicy details into the public eye. However, the article is also an incredible look at a hugely anticipated movie from the point-of-view of a huge fan who knows how to ask the right questions. You can check out more details, including a batch of new photos from the set, after the jump.

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Photos

Brian Hiatt’s piece is a long and satisfying read, taking you to the editing bay at Bad Robot Productions where Abrams is putting the finishing touches on the film and into the homes of original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher. It also features appearances from new actors like Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley. It’s very good and when you have the time to sit down and a little while, you should read through the whole thing.

But since you’re in such a hurry, we’ve collected some of the choice details and quotes below.

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On the Origins of The Force Awakens

Abrams initially turned down The Force Awakens when it was offered to him, only accepting the gig after taking a meeting with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. It turns out that Abrams, a longtime Star Wars fan, felt the desire to ask the burning questions that the conclusion of Return of the Jedi sidesteps:

“With any movie that ends with going off in the sunset and a celebratory moment, you can ask, ‘Well, what happened the day after? Then decades go past. We were literally asking, ‘Well, what happened to the disbanded Empire? What happened to the Republic?'”

Co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back for George Lucas decades ago, emphasized that a person’s story doesn’t always conclude with a big treehouse party with a bunch of Ewoks. That shouldn’t, and couldn’t, be The End for Han, Luke, and Leia:

“Someone’s story doesn’t end with the big triumph. Life goes on. In those 30 years, a lot of things had happened in my life, so you have to assume that things have happened to these characters – and that was part of the fun of it.”

Tasked with rewriting the screenplay in nine months following the departure of original writer Michael Arndt, Abrams treasured having Kasdan on board as a collaborator. After all, as a franchise veteran, he would ensure that they weren’t crafting crummy fan-fiction:

“I didn’t have to ask the question ‘What would they have done?’ Because he was there.”

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On J.J. Abrams

In the article Hiatt describes sitting in on a meeting between Abrams and his post-production team. The night before, tickets to The Force Awakens had gone on sale and the director was rallying his people for the final stretch. It turns out that Abrams is quite good at the speech-making thing:

“This movie we’ve been working on for the better part of three years is coming out in the lesser part of two months. And in this final sprint, I just want to say that every little choice, every little detail, every little decision, whether it’s something being animated or textured or whatever, all these little things are massively, hugely, crazily important. Don’t ever think that extra thing you give to it won’t matter … It probably matters more on this movie than, certainly, anything I will ever be involved in.”

You know, just in case you were worried that he wasn’t taking this job seriously enough.

In another moment, Abrams made it clear that his focus is always on telling the best possible story and making a good movie. He leaves the merchandising to everyone else:

“What’s been incredible for me has been the creative freedom and the desire to make something hopefully worth people’s time – and not a commercial for toys. I’m not itching to be involved in creating things that end up in a landfill. I wanted to tell a story: What would happen if you were 19, 20 years old and you found yourself in a Star Wars universe?”

This recalls the film’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, where Abrams bristled when a fan asked him about the “franchise.” To his credit, Abrams seems to be shooting for what really matters. The man is nothing if not a collection of good intentions.

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On Adam Driver and Kylo Ren

According to John Boyega, Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren is “a Darth Vader fanboy who has, like, extreme mental issues.” And Driver took his character very seriously, staying in character between scenes and leaving his helmet on at all times. Boyega was equally amused and impressed by his commitment:

“Do your thing, man. I mean, for me, I follow what Laurence Olivier or someone said: ‘Just act.’ But it was great to see him go for his process. It was intense.”

For Driver, who was already a fan of the series when he took the job, the challenge was “to forget you’re in Star Wars and treat it like any other job that’s filled with moments and problems.” For a scene where he must deliver a monologue to Darth Vader’s destroyed helmet (last seen melting in a funeral pyre on Endor), Driver had to ground himself in this universe:

“When someone sets the scene for you, it’s always very funny. The idea that in this reality, Darth Vader is real.”

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