Episode 8 Bits: 'Star Wars: Episode 8' Has Begun Filming, The Possible Return Of A Classic Character, A Fistful Of Finn Speculation

In today's edition of Episode 8 Bits:

  • Star Wars: Episode 8 has officially begun filming.
  • A handful of classic Star Wars actors have confirmed their roles (by canceling Comic-Con appearances).
  • A long-dead Jedi may return for Episode 8.
  • John Boyega seemingly confirms more lightsaber training.
  • The possible origins of the Knights of Ren.
  • A lot of funny things have been happening with the schedule for Star Wars: Episode 8 over the past month. First, the film's release date was pushed back from May 2017 to December 15, 2015. Rumors of script rewrites soon followed as the film missed its original start date. And then cast and crew started heavily implying that shooting was imminent on social media, although a few of those posts were quietly taken down. Now, we know that writer/director Rian Johnson and his team have officially begun filming Episode 8 thanks to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who said the following on his latest quarterly earnings call:

    There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products. Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of Episode IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.

    So there you have it. Cameras are rolling on Episode 8 as you read this. Will this production be as secretive as The Force Awakens or will Disney be a little more loose with the reveals now that J.J. Abrams is no longer at the helm? We shall see.

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    Unfortunately, we have some bad news to report this morning, but we prefer to let you know as soon as we know something...

    Posted by Pensacon on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    Unfortunately, the start of filming on Episode 8 had some unexpected ripple effects for Pensacon, aka, Pensacola, Florida's Comic-Con. It seems that the production has forced a few of their special guests to cancel their scheduled appearances. At the same time, this can now serve as official confirmation that Peter Mayhew will once again reprise his role as Chewbacca and that Tim Rose's Admiral Ackbar will once again return to the screen (and hopefully have a little more to do this time around).

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    So, more bad news this morning – Mike Quinn has to cancel his appearance as well. A certain movie is calling...

    Posted by Pensacon on Thursday, February 4, 2016

    Oh, and Nien Nunb puppeteer Mike Quinn also dropped out of Pensacon due to his commitment to Episode 8. So it's official: the character's appearance in The Force Awakens as a member of Poe Dameron's X-Wing squadron was not some one-time deal. We're going to be seeing a whole lot more of this guy.

    Speaking of classic Star Wars characters returning in the new movie, could Ewan McGregor return to the Star Wars universe in Episode 8? Kristian Harloff of the Schmoes Know Show and the Collider Jedi Council seems to think this may be the case. Although there are no additional details (Harloff himself even offers a grain of salt), we can safely assume that the role would be that of Obi-Wan Kenobi's Force ghost, unless Episode 8 decides to break the traditional Star Wars narrative style and engage in a few proper flashbacks.

    But I'd put good money on a ghostly cameo, where he can appear to Rey and provide an info-dump that doesn't feel like exposition because a "Holy crap, Obi-Wan is back!" effect will be in full force. If there is truth to this rumor, this is another pile of kindling tossed on the "Obi-Wan Kenobi is getting his own spin-off!" bonfire, since this would be the perfect way for Lucasfilm to remind everyone that McGregor's take on this iconic character was one of the few aspects of the prequels that actually worked. Plus, you know you want to see a movie about an exiled former Jedi Knight kicking butt all around Tatooine.

    Star Wars The Force Awakens finn 2

    At least one Episode 8 cast member marked the start of filming with geekiness. Oh, John Boyega. Your Twitter feed will help keep us sane and interested over the next few desolate months of rumor and speculation.

    From supporting me when my diapers had to be changed to supporting me while I work towards my vision. She also was my bodyguard during "first date" days #siblinglove #bigsis #shealsotrashedmyactionfigurecollection #youngdays #lifeiswonderful

    A photo posted by @john_boyega on

    Speaking of Boyega, the young actor behind Finn posted a quietly revealing image on his Instagram that suggests that the "training" he's been Tweeting and Snapchatting about in recent weeks may refer to exactly what you think it refers to. Ostensibly a picture of him standing alongside his sister, the image above seems to indicate that Finn will be getting a second shot at wielding a lightsaber in Episode 8. Note the gloves, which look like the kind you'd wear for fencing and sword training. But more importantly, note the Japanese symbol on his hat, which translates to Samurai. Most importantly, Star Wars News Net notes that the writing on his shirt is commonly associated with Kendo, the sword fighting style commonly associated with lightsabers. This is entirely a short in the dark, but this stuff does add up!

    And while we're staring at gloves and hats and jumping to conclusions, you can watch this episode of Star Wars Minute, which engages in some educated speculation about the origins of the Knights of Ren, the not-so-dice group that was only briefly referenced in The Force Awakens (and will presumably rear their ugly heads soon enough).