The Force Awakens Bits: The Wackiest Rey Theory Yet, A Real Life Starkiller Base, One Very Cool Fan-Made Poster

Now that Star Wars: Episode 8 has been delayed seven months, we can even more time luxuriating in some precious The Force Awakens Bits! In today's edition:

  • ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett talks about creating Supreme Leader Snoke.
  • A very impressive, Struzan-inspired Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster.
  • A Rey theory that requires a tinfoil hat.
  • The origin of Max von Sydow's Lor San Tekka.
  • Someone built a real Starkiller Base. Kind of.
  • The next chapter in the "Where's Rey?" saga.
  • Screenwriter Michael Arndt describes the creation of Finn.
  • And more!
  • Star Wars The Force Awakens Supreme Leader Snoke

    ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett recently spoke with CinemaBlend about the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke, the motion-capture uber-villain played Andy Serkis in The Force Awakens. It seems that his towering appearance, created through a particularly menacing use of holographic projection, was inspired by an iconic piece of American architecture:

    "Imagine when you're a kid or whatever, you go up and you stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial. And you see old Lincoln in a huge chair. There's a certain quality about that. So, that was certainly sort of part of the inspiration for it all. But I think, hologram, you know? The idea really in that opening scene is sort of like, 'What is going on here. Ok, it's a hologram. Is he really this big?' OK, once you figure out that it's a hologram, of course it's like, 'Well how big is he?'"

    Guyett also elaborated on the complicated process of finding the right level of menace for the character and his surroundings:

    "I think one thing that is interesting, too, is just the nature of how he ended up looking, that kind of came out of a lot of exploration. Just our lighting tests, just starting to light that chamber and figure out, kind of, what did that light do in there. Seeing him so dramatically backlit like that is something that I think was kind of inspirational. Because there is, realizing that, 'Hey, if you reduce a lot of the color down and you just make this very visceral, black-and-white silhouetted character, he gets that much more menacing.' His size, you know, already makes him menacing, and then you have this sort of [effect of] you can't quite see what you're looking at all the time. I think it really adds to his mystique."

    Naturally, we can expect to learn far more about this character in the next film, especially since he obviously has something big planned for Kylo Ren...

    TFA poster

    You can't walk two steps in Internet-land without stumbling over a fan-made Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster. So you have to give some serious props to artist Blake Armstrong for creating art worth celebrating. This thing is lovely, quoting the iconic work of Drew Struzan without being slavish too it. This is a huge improvement on the overstuffed, Photoshop-nightmare that actually made into theater lobbies.

    Star Wars The Force Awakens rey speeder

    Everyone has their pet theory concerning Rey's top-secret parents. Some say she's a Skywalker. Others have pretty good arguments for how she's a Kenobi. A clique of fans are holding out hope for a connection to Star Wars Rebels. Others stubbornly insist that she is, somehow, a Solo. And then there is tinfoil theory, which suggests that she is a reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker, returned to the universe to right past wrongs. Oh, boy. But here's the thing: like so many grand conspiracies, this one makes a certain amount of sense! Her big flashback is triggered by touching Anakin's old lightsaber. She's an inherently gifted fighter and pilot, able to be one with the Force with little training. Plus, she really doesn't care for sand. Hm. Hmmm... Nah. We're not buying this one. Yet.

    Max von Sydow's Lor San Tekka is only in The Force Awakens for its opening scene before he is swiftly executed by Kylo Ren, but the latest episode of Star Wars Minute delves into his history prior to that scene. Like every other minor Star Wars character, this guy has an extensive backstory that could fill a novel or a comic book or a video game (which is surely in the cards). Most importantly, this video actually explains exactly where that map to Luke Skywalker's hiding place came from.

    Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was already home to its fair share of astonishing buildings before the Aldar Properties headquarters was modified to look like Starkiller Base. This insane and impressive presentation was assembled to celebrate the city's role in The Force Awakens – all of the Jakku scenes were shot around Abu Dhabi, with local companies and citizens participating in the production.

    cinefexCinefex Magazine is devoting their next issue to the recent work of visual effects powerhouse ILM and, naturally, The Force Awakens is the cover story. Specifically, the Millennium Falcon, two TIE Fighters and the desert landscape of Jakku are gracing the cover. In addition to Star Wars, the issue will also dive into the company's work in films like Ex MachinaSpectreThe Finest Hours and The RevenantStar Wars: The Force AwakensEntertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican conducted a Q&A with The Force Awakens writers J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt at a Writer's Guild of America panel, where the trio discussed how they built the new characters and massaged the story into shape. Arndt shared one particularly interesting anecdote regarding the creation of Rey and Finn:

    "From the very beginning we sort of settled on very quickly that we wanted the girl, Rey, to be a scavenger. We always wanted her to be the ultimate outsider and the ultimate disenfranchised person, because that person has the longest journey... And then we were struggling to figure out who the male lead was going to be. I remember we talked about pirates and merchant marines and all this stuff, and finally Larry [Kasdan] got pissed at all of us and he's just like, "You guys, you're not thinking big. What if he's a Stormtrooper that ran away?"

    You can listen to the entire discussion over at Star Wars Underworld.

    Hot Toys - Star Wars - The Force Awakens - Rey & BB-8 Collectible Set_PR4

    Ready for the latest chapter in the "Where's Rey" saga? As Hasbro and Lucasfilm and major retailers and everyone in-between all throw the blame back and forth for why the actual star of The Force Awakens has been absent from toy aisles, this Sweatpants and Coffee article arrives to bloody a few noses. According to an unnamed source, toy vendors were specifically instructed by Lucasfilm behind-closed-doors to not utilize Rey:

    The insider, who was at those meetings, described how initial versions of many of the products presented to Lucasfilm featured Rey prominently. At first, discussions were positive, but as the meetings wore on, one or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products. Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise, said the insider.

    We cannot validate the truth of this and it is equally likely that Lucasfilm didn't de-emphasize Rey as much as the company chose to emphasize Kylo Ren. In any case, the situation remains the name – it's kinda messed up how the actual protagonist of the movie has been shuffled to the side so her male co-stars can get their own toys and what-not.

    Hot Toys - Star Wars - The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren Collectible Figure_PR4

    In any case, Lucasfilm didn't actually need Rey to make $700 million on Star Wars toys in 2015 alone. That's more than Avengers, Minions, and Jurassic World toys combined. And this is certainly before you take books and comics and bed sheets and lunch boxes into account. It's starting to look like those billions Disney spent to acquire Star Wars will be a bargain in the end.


    What's that? You could really use a t-shirt that uses a memorable image from The Force Awakens to riff on Shepard Fairey's iconic Obey Giant? Oh, boy. Do we have a link for you!