A wise man once said: “If one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi.” If you want to fully understand the epic and intricate Star Wars saga, you must embrace a larger view of the Force and you can start by embracing DK’s new sacred text, The Star Wars Book: Expand Your Knowledge of a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Written by Star Wars experts Pablo Hidalgo, Cole Horton, and Dan Zehr, this insightful examination of the ever-expanding Star Wars franchise covers 11 live-action movies, four TV shows comprising 15 seasons (and counting), video games, comics, novels, theme park experiences, and more.
Stuffed with illuminating infographics and authoritative essays, The Star Wars Book reveals the mysteries of the Star Wars galaxy — not just the characters, history, and technology of Star Wars, but how it all connects together, from 4-LOM and A-Wings to Ziro the Hutt and Zuckuss. While not technically an encyclopedia or visual dictionary, the book is divided into key subject areas for easy reading— the galaxy, science and technology, the Force, the Skywalkers, galactic governments, their dissidents, and galactic denizens.
Whether you are a devoted Star Wars fan or a casual reader curious to learn more, The Star Wars Book is an invaluable roadmap to that galaxy far, far away. Below is a sampling of some of the tome’s most interesting tidbits, including new information on the events of The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian.
Ashley Eckstein’s new Star Wars Little Golden Book, I Am a Padawan
Sam Witwer Discusses Maul’s Appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Dave Filoni Explains What Duel of the Fates Means to the Skywalker Saga
John Boyega Talks About Force-Sensitive Finn
I Am a Padawan
An upcoming Star Wars Little Golden Book, I Am a Padawan, reflects on Ahsoka Tano’s life as a Padawan learner. The children’s book is written by the woman who understands Ahsoka intimately — Ashley Eckstein, who has voiced the character since the 2008 Clone Wars film that kicked off the series. I Am a Padawan is the first children’s book Eckstein has written, but she’s not new to the role of author. She shared writing credit with Ahsoka novelist E. K. Johnston for the short story “By Whatever Sun” that was part of the 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View and wrote the non-fiction book It’s Your Universe: You Have the Power to Make It Happen in 2018.
Over at StarWars.com, Amy Richau has an excellent interview with Eckstein her talks about writing the book and what the character means to her. You can order your own copy of I Am a Padawan now, and be sure to also check out Dan Brooks‘ interview with the book’s artist, Shane Clester.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Had Different Plans for Darth Maul
Sam Witwer, who voiced Maul in Ron Howard‘s 2018 film, in addition to portraying him in The Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV series, recently revealed that Maul’s appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story evolved over time. Originally, Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced the character in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, voiced Maul in Solo, but it didn’t quite work out as they had hoped. In an interview with SW Holocron, Witwer recalls:
“[Peter] Serafinowicz has even said that he recorded stuff for Maul and it didn’t quite work the way that they thought it would. That wasn’t actually a decision thing. That was actually someone who was not totally in on the Lucasfilm camp going, ‘Okay who played him on The Phantom Menace? Serafinowicz, grab him.’ He’s such a talented, talented guy and I admire the hell out of his work, but it was not recognizably the character and it wasn’t even recognizably The Phantom Menace character. It was a very different thing and they weren’t getting the right stuff.”
Once Witwer was officially brought onto Solo: A Star Wars Story, that’s when he and Dave Filoni started suggesting changes that would make the character’s depiction more faithful, including having him wield a different lightsaber.
“There was stuff that had to happen once I got hired. There was a reshoot that had to happen because people like me and Dave Filoni were letting them know there were a lot of details that weren’t consistent. That’s not me saying these people didn’t know what they were doing because they were making a movie and doing it at lightspeed. Ultimately, they did the right thing because they hired the people who were the experts on this like Dave Filoni and, I dare say, me, because I’m kind of an expert on what we’ve been doing with Maul for the past decade, y’know? They were very open to hearing what we had to say and, again, they were so open that they did a reshoot.”
Dave Filoni Explains What Duel of the Fates Means to the Skywalker Saga
Speaking of Maul, In the second episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, “Legacy,” executive producer, writer, and director Dave Filoni discusses the importance of the lightsaber battle between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
“What’s at stake is really how Anakin is going to turn out. Because Qui-Gon is different than the rest of the Jedi, and you get that in the movie… He’s fighting for Anakin, and that’s why it’s the Duel of the Fates. It’s the fate of this child. And depending on how this fight goes, his life is going to be dramatically different.”
Filoni elaborates on how Qui-Gon would have been the father figure Anakin Skywalker needed and how the prospective father figure’s death has massive consequences:
“So Qui-Gon loses, of course, so the father figure is gone. Because he knew what it meant to take this kid away from his mother when he had an attachment, and he’s left with Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan trains Anakin, at first, out of a promise he makes to Qui-Gon, not because he cares about him. He’s a brother to Anakin, eventually, but he’s not a father figure. That’s a failing for Anakin. He doesn’t have the family that he needs. He loses his mother in the next film. He fails the promise to his mother, ‘I will come back and save you.’ So he’s left completely vulnerable, and Star Wars is ultimately about family.”
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian is an ongoing eight-part documentary series streaming on Disney+ centered on the making of the first live-action Star Wars television series. New episodes are released every Friday.
Talking Bay 94 Interviews Visual Effects Artist Ken Ralston
Devoted to interviews with the cast, crew, and creators from the Star Wars universe, the Talking Bay 94 podcast offers never-before-heard stories from background aliens to some of the biggest stars in the universe. Join host Brandon Wainerdi as he sits down with legendary visual effects artist Ken Ralston, winner of five Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, including a Special Achievement Oscar for the visual effects in Return of the Jedi (1983).
Ralston’s other wins include Cocoon (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Death Becomes Her (1992), and Forrest Gump (1994). He was also nominated three more times for Dragonslayer (1981), Back to the Future Part II (1989), and Alice in Wonderland (2010). Other recent episodes of Talking Bay 94 include interviews with Dan Madsen, founder of the Lucasfilm Fan Club, and the aforementioned Sam Witwer!
ILM Artists Pay Tribute to Heroes of the Pandemic
The talented artists at Industrial Light & Magic are paying tribute to the real-world heroes of Coronavirus (COVID–19). Through “Heroes of the Pandemic: ILM Art Jam,” artists have created their own illustrations and paintings as a thank you to the doctors, nurses, grocery-store workers, and all those on the front lines that are saving lives and providing us with essentials. You can check out all the awesome art at StarWars.com.
Additionally, Mark Hamill and Lucasfilm thanked all the first responders, front-liners, and volunteers who put their health and well-being on the line for us in a video message from the official Star Wars YouTube account:
Blast Points Podcast Celebrates The Empire Strikes Back and More!
“In 1993, audiences across Japan got to see a (super) live stage show tribute to the cinema of George Lucas. Willow, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Indiana Jones, American Graffiti, and Star Wars all live featuring singing, dancing, and a live tiger. Now, thanks to the magic of the internet YOU TOO can watch this bizarre and beautiful moment in history. Join us for a live commentary of the only known camcorder footage of the entire historic show. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hand jive.”
John Boyega Discusses Finn’s Force Sensitivity
In a recent interview with Jake Hamilton, entertainment anchor for Chicago’s @Fox32News and @ReelBlend co-host, Star Wars actor John Boyega discussed his character’s Force sensitivity, which was revealed in last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In the film (and the Sequel Trilogy as a whole) there are numerous suggestions that the former Stormtrooper may be Force-sensitive. In his May the 4th interview with Hamilton, confirms the awakening of the Force in the character:
“He’s definitely Force-sensitive and was always strong in the Force,” said Boyega. “The previous draft, it was actually a conversation between Rey and Finn, they actually talked it out. There was a scene where Rey already knew — like he had stopped her in the Falcon and was going to let her know that he had the Force, that he had felt it since he left the First Order. That energy, that was the motivating factor, and he’s known it for a very long time. And Rey, in that scene, Rey stops him and said, ‘Finn, I knew for a long time, like since the moment I met you, that you were strong with the Force. I knew there was something about you.'”
You can check out Hamilton’s full interview with Boyega below:
Rey’s Lightsaber, Revealed
Phil Szostak is the Creative Art Manager at Lucasfilm. He’s also the author of The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Recently, Phil revealed some concept art from Matthew Savage of Rey’s lightsaber in The Rise of Skywalker, using elements from her staff. Check out Szostak’s on Twitter and Savage on Instagram for more excellent artwork from the Star Wars saga.
New Star Wars Collectibles From Gentle Giant, Hot Toys, and Regal Robot
Hot Toys are celebrating Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th anniversary with the sixth scale Boba Fett (Vintage Color Version) Collectible Figure, based on Boba Fett’s early costume tests and vintage Kenner action figure design. It features precise paint applications on the detailed Mandalorian helmet and armor, finely tailored under-suit, blaster rifle and pistol, Boba Fett’s iconic jetpack, and a figure base. You can pre-order the figure right now, which is estimated to arrive July-September 2020.
Speaking of Mandalorians, Sabine Wren will join fellow Star Wars Rebels characters Ahsoka Tano & Hera Syndulla as Gentle Giant’s next sixth scale Mini Bust. RebelScum.com exclusively revealed the upcoming deluxe Mini-Bust, which will be available for pre-order soon.
“These will be made available to Premier Guild Members first and then to the general public. At this time, the release date and edition size is to be determined, but it will retail for $120.00 and what makes it a Deluxe piece is the fact that you can display her with or without the helmet on, with an optional blaster or empty hand and of course, with her paint sprayer or the Darksaber.”
Hot Toys is expanding its Star Wars collection with a sixth scale Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike collectible set based on The Mandalorian! The highly-accurate figure is based on the appearance of the Imperial Scout Trooper in the live-action series and features detailed helmet and armor with realistic weathering effects, fabric bodysuit, a blaster rifle, and a desert-themed figure stand. The trooper will be 12″ tall and include multiple interchangeable pieces and over 30 points of articulation.
Measuring at approximately 52.5cm in length, the Speeder Bike features weathering effects, articulated grip, foot pedals, steering vane, engine flaps and cannon, a stand, and a sixth scale figure of the Child with newly sculpted expression and a shoulder bag for the Speeder Bike pilot. For more information (and photos of the adorable Child), check out Bleeding Cool.
And finally, Regal Robot recently created a custom Darth Vader Meditation Chamber Desk Set for a client!
“Working closely with Lucasfilm, we sketched a number of interesting chairs and furniture based on Darth Vader and the Death Star. Eventually, we hit on the idea of creating a set based on Vader’s iconic meditation chamber in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Bridging form and function, we captured the look of that chamber in a three-sided desk, using custom laminated millwork to recreate the bold white interior and imposing black shell. Angled shapes reach up to the sky as if waiting for the top half to descend as it did in the film. “
For more information on the build, check out Regal Robot’s spotlight interview with the client, Brandi R. Harkness-Bruce!
Thank the Maker!
May 14 marks George Lucas’ 76th birthday. To celebrate the filmmaker, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, here’s an in-depth 1971 interview with a 27-year-old Lucas by journalist Gene Youngblood on Los Angeles Public Television Station KCET. Lucas had just finished his first feature film, THX 1138.
Creature and Special Make-up Effects Creative Supervisor Neal Scanlan began his career working on films such as Walt Disney’s Return to Oz, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and the 1986 Oscar-nominated Little Shop of Horrors. A founding member of the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Neal was involved in projects such as Witches, Babe (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects), 101 Dalmatians, The English Patient, and more.
In 2011, Scanlan was asked to head up the Creature and Make-Up FX department for the new series of Star Wars movies. He has worked on every film of the Disney era: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Solo, and the final episode of the nine-part Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker.
With The Rise of Skywalker now available on Digital HD and hitting 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31st, I recently got the chance to speak to Scanlan about his work on the film. He discussed the process of creating creatures for the saga, the origins of Babu Frik, and some tantalizing details on a character we didn’t see: The Eye of Webbish Bog.