In Brief

Star Wars: Carrie Fisher claims she had affair with Harrison Ford

Actor who played Princess Leia in both sets of trilogies writes about brief fling

Han Solo x Princess Leia Star Wars

Star Wars 7: George Lucas quizzes JJ Abrams about Episode VII - The Force Awakens

6 November

Star Wars creator George Lucas received a blunt answer when he asked Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens's director JJ Abrams what will happen to Darth Vader's grandchildren.

In a video interview for Vanity Fair, Abrams fielded a selection of pre-recorded questions from celebrities and journalists about the forthcoming film. One of the questions came from Lucas who asked the director to open up about the future of the sci-fi epic.

"JJ, what happened to Darth Vader's grandchildren?" Lucas asked.

"Oh, George, this is great. You tell me man, you made all this sh** up."

In reference to Star Wars's least favourite ever character, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos asked "JJ, will you finally bring back Jar Jar Binks?"

Abrams replied: "We are developing a Netflix series called Binks and I."

Asked by the Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric where he planned to be on the night the film premieres, Abrams replied "I will be asleep. I look forward to being done with the movie, so I can pass out."

Later in the interview Jared Leto asked why he wasn't cast as Chewbacca "given my ability to transform". He then added, jokingly, "And not only can I grow hair I can grow hair all over my body."

Abrams replied: "Sorry, he was already cast."

The journalist and web entrepreneur Shane Smith asked: "What the hell happens between Luke and Darth Vader? Because that's where it should all start. Is he dead or is he alive?"

"They already made that movie," Abrams replied. "You should watch the earlier films, they exist."

Finally, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley asked: "Have you ever watched Mark Hammill's movie Car Wash from beginning to end?"

Abrams laughed and replied: "No but tonight. Tonight's the night."

In other heart-warming Star Wars news – a social media campaign to help a terminally ill cancer patient see the new film before its full cinematic release has been successful.

Star Wars fanatic Daniel Fleetwood was told he had only two months to live after surgery and chemotherapy treatment failed to stop the cancer cells spreading to his lungs. 

Worried that he wouldn’t be able to get to see the film on its release date in December, Fleetwood started the hashtag #ForceforDaniel telling Disney that his dying wish was to see an early screening of the film. The hashtag amassed 34,000 tweets of support and eventually reached the team at Disney who answered his call.

His wife Ashley wrote in a Facebook post: "Today the wonderful Disney, Bad Robot and Lucasfilm teams made his final dream come true, Daniel just finished watching an unfinished version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!”

The online campaign by the Fleetwoods was aided by Star Wars actors Mark Hamill and John Boyega who play Luke Skywalker and new character Finn in the upcoming film. 

A LucasFilm spokesperson confirmed that Fleetwood had seen the film and been called by JJ Abrams to chat about it.

Star Wars 7: are these The Force Awakens' biggest secrets?

02 November

The Mail on Sunday claims to have compiled a 'definitive guide' to Star Wars: The Force Awakens' biggest secrets, including the focus of the entire plot.

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

The Sunday tabloid claims to have pulled together a list of the film's key revelations with the assistance of "well-placed sources on the Star Wars 7 production set". 

BB-8 is female

One titbit that may be of interest is that BB-8, the successor to the original trilogy's cheeky droid R2-D2, is a female - "and she plays a pivotal role."

According to one of the paper's sources "There’s never been a strong female robot in any Star Wars film, but [director JJ Abrams] was determined to make BB-8 cute and strong – and female."

"They want to appeal to girls as much boys, who have traditionally been the fan base. She's going to be one of the breakout hits of the film," the source said.

What's it all about?

More interesting to most fans will be the confirmation that the focus of the film will be on the battle for Luke Skywalker's lost blue lightsaber.

In the beginning of the movie "pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) recovers the weapon and sends it on a mission with new droid BB-8."

"Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) joins scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8, sheltering on board the Millennium Falcon, where they befriend Han Solo (Harrison Ford). They end up in the castle of alien pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) but Sith Lord Uber (Andy Serkis) orders killer Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to destroy them."

Eventually, the paper says, Princess Leia arrives with C-3PO to save the day, reuniting with Han Solo after years apart and leading the new group of allies back to the Resistance Base.

According to the paper's sources "the finale is truly epic… and includes the traumatic death of 'a major, major character'."

Star Wars 7: 'very good' reason for Luke Skywalker's absence

30 October

The latest mystery to grip Star Wars fans as they await The Force Awakens is why Luke Skywalker has not been featured in any of the trailers to date.

Aside from a very brief shot in the second trailer where a robot hand, presumed to be Luke's, reaches out to R2-D2, the key character is nowhere to be seen. Neither does he appear on a recent poster featuring the main cast members.

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Han Solo actor Harrison Ford joked that there just "wasn't room" for Luke, before adding: "No, there's a very good reason. I can't tell you."

Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has also said that Luke's absence from the trailers is "no accident". Asked why he does not appear in them, Abrams added: "I can't wait for you to find out the answer."

While some fans fear Luke will not appear in the film itself, the theory appears to carry little weight. Actor Mark Hamill definitely spent time on the set of the movie and his name is listed in the credits at the bottom of the promotional poster.

Therefore, movie buffs have been discussing other possible theories over his omission from promos. Cinema Blend wonders if something has happened to significantly alter the character's appearance, and that the film-makers are not ready to reveal this.

A related theory is that he has fallen to the dark side in The Force Awakens, and that his visual appearance would give the game away. "We hope it's true," says the New Daily.

Fans have reacted with puzzlement and some anger on Twitter. One wrote: "WTF! I bet he dies early in the film and Finn continues his legacy like Ren is for Vader."

Others have suggested that Abrams might just be teasing fans to intensify the suspense.

It is clear the cast is under strict instructions to remain tight-lipped. Pressed to reveal more details about the film, Ford told Jimmy Kimmel: "Why would you want to say anything? I want the audience to experience it. I don't want them to hear about it."

He did, however, offer his view on how the film might be received: "I can tell you this. It's really, really good. Trust me, it's really good. The new cast… Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac are phenomenal. JJ has made an incredible movie. You will not be disappointed at all. I promise you."

Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens – nine galactic questions

28 October

The countdown for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is officially underway after Disney surprised fans by releasing pre-order tickets last week.

The film will begin screening in the UK on 17 December, meaning British audiences can see it 24 hours before fans in the US. It will be released even earlier in France, on 16 December.

Trailers for Star Wars 7 have offered glimpses of characters old and new. Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens will see the return of Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, as well as new characters such as rebellious stormtrooper Finn, played by John Boyega, and scavenger Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.

Excitement over the first instalment of the new trilogy hit fever pitch on Force Friday, when new Star Wars toys were unveiled around the world. Details on the back of merchandise helped to flesh out some of the new roles, but plenty of questions remain…

Why is the force reawakening?

The title of Episode VII implies that the Force has gone through a long period of dormancy, perhaps because the last remaining Jedi Luke Skywalker has been lying low. One trailer reveals: "There has been an awakening… The dark side and the light." So what or who has caused the resurgence?

Who has the force?

In one trailer, Luke can be heard saying: "The Force is strong in my family. My father has it... I have it... My sister has it... You have that power too." But who is he talking to? Finn has been seen with what appears to be Anakin's missing lightsaber, fuelling the theory that he is on a mission to return it to Luke or Leia. Meanwhile, fans paying close attention to the speaking Star Wars toys have noted that villain Kylo Ren is "immune to the light", suggesting he may be full of the dark force.

The Kylo Ren toy also says: "Together, we will destroy the resistance and the last Jedi." Some have taken this to mean Luke, but others suspect he could be referring to more than one Jedi Knight. The footage of Finn with a lightsaber has led to speculation that he might have the force. However, Nerd Reactor points out that it is "entirely possible that lightsabers could have been slowly reaching people from scavengers, especially since hundreds, if not thousands, of Jedi were killed at the hands of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious". Other characters rumoured to be "force sensitive" include Daisy Ridley's Rey, Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux and Lupita Nyong'o's CGI character Maz Kanata.

Who is related to whom?

Star Wars's reputation for lineage twists has prompted much speculation about which characters will turn out to be related in The Force Awakens. Is Finn the son of the smooth-talking Lando Calrissian? And could Kylo Ren be related to Han or Luke? One rumour has it that Gleeson's General Hux is the son of Luke and is responsible for reawakening the force.

Star Wars fans were said to be furious after toy trading cards appeared to reveal one massive spoiler. Rey, whose second name has not been released, has long been rumoured to be a Skywalker and the daughter of Princess Leia and Han Solo. The official Top Trumps style cards for Star Wars: The Force Awakens appear to support this claim. The cards feature "Power-Up Link Symbols" to indicate each character's abilities and affiliations, such as Rebel or Sith. Rey has the Rebel and Jedi symbol on her card – a huge spoiler if it is revealed to be true.

Finn, who is seen wielding a lightsaber in one trailer, does not have the Jedi symbol on his card – although Screenrant points out that "this doesn't necessarily mean that Finn is not a Force-sensitive individual; he just may not have started his training yet". The website adds: "It's true that some of these new merchandise items could be embellished by the manufacturers since so little is known about the Force Awakens plot. Still, some of the details seem oddly specific to simply be the creation of a company."

Another possibility, which might frustrate fans, is that any next-of-kin revelations might not even emerge in Star Wars VII. After all, it wasn't until Episode V that Luke learnt about his own family ties.

What has happened since the fall of the Galactic Empire?

The original trilogy of films ends with the liberation of the galaxy as the evil Emperor Palpatine is killed by his own general, Darth Vader. So what has happened in the 30 or so intervening years between that moment and The Force Awakens?

An entire plot synopsis for the forthcoming film has been sketched out by one dedicated Star Wars enthusiast who stitched together all the rumours into a coherent whole. It suggests that when The Force Awakens begins, the Galactic Empire has been replaced by a new enemy named the First Order.

Fan site has been attempting to work out the allegiances of the main characters in the new film. Recently released collectors' cards seem to indicate that Finn will be aligned with an organisation called The Resistance, the future of the Rebel Alliance. Meanwhile, new villain Kylo Ren is being associated with a shadowy group known as the Knights of Ren. Few firm details are known about how Ren's group connects to the First Order.

Did Leia and Han make it?

Discounting the slightly uncomfortable flirtation between Luke Skywalker and his estranged sister, the main love story underpinning the original trilogy of films was between Han Solo and Princess Leia. The two finally appeared to be together at the end of Return of the Jedi and seemed on course to live happily ever after. But rumours suggest that when The Force Awakens opens the pair have become estranged. 

So what has come between the feisty princess and her loveable rogue? Some have suggested that the hot-headed duo never really got together. Others say that they married and then were driven apart. All will be revealed when the film is released in December.

Will there be ewoks?

Adults may have hated them, but 80s kids loved them, so will the furry inhabitants of Endor be making a return in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Rumours began to circulate online when one keen-eyed Star Wars enthusiast noticed that actor Christopher Ang's IMDb page listed him as playing a "green ewok" in the forthcoming film.

Discussions ensued over whether the six-foot martial arts expert would be able to play a diminutive bear-like creature, with some speculating that Abrams is planning to use similar techniques to those Peter Jackson employed in his Middle earth films to turn regular-sized adults into three-foot Hobbits.

"The most puzzling is that Ang is not a little person," notes. “Ang is 6ft, 180lbs. That isn’t who generally perform as Ewoks classically. If this listing has any legitimacy, perhaps Ang is puppeteering an Ewok? 

"Ang has been as much of a stunt performer as an actor. Many puppeteering styles like the ones used … in Return of the Jedi required a lot physically intense work for the puppeteer as they had to lay on their back with their arms extended into the air for hours. 

"Perhaps a stunt performer with acting skills was chosen to operate a green-cowled Ewok for this reason?"

The rumours gradually began to subside after contacted Ang's agents to ask whether the actor filmed anything for The Force Awakens and got a one line reply: "He did not and we don’t know why it is on there."

Can it beat the original trilogy?

Nearly two thirds of Star Wars fans are expecting The Force Awakens to be the best in the franchise, according to a new poll. A third of respondents said it was the advanced CGI technology that was fuelling their excitement, while others cited director JJ Abrams, the cast and the new plot. A quarter of those surveyed said they expected it to be "more true to the Star Wars series" than the second prequel trilogy, released 22 years after the first film A New Hope.

Episode 7 is widely expected to shatter box office records. Despite being released just a fortnight before the end of the year, it is predicted to be the highest grossing film of 2015 and has been the bookies' favourite – ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and Spectre – since the first teaser trailer was released in November last year. A second survey put it among the most highly anticipated films ever, although it failed to beat Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, coming out in November.

"Considering the fact that all we have to go on are two teasers and small snippets of footage here and there, it may be worth waiting to see the movie before walking the slippery slope of calling it the best Star Wars movie ever," warns Inverse. "Even the trailer for The Phantom Menace makes it look like the greatest movie of all time, and we know how that turned out."

Why is Finn so important?

Tying in with the theory that Finn is related to Lando Calrissian, one rumour has it that the reformed Stormtrooper has no idea at all about his own lineage and adopts the name Finn based on his Stormtrooper designation: FN-2187. suggests that Finn doesn't know anything about his young life because he was recruited by the First Order as a young child. This also explains why he only has a first name, the site says.

Another rumour attempts to solve the conundrum of why the young soldier is able to wield a lightsaber, traditionally the weapon of a Jedi knight. Starwars7news says that this may be because the First Order has come to take an interest in "civilized weapons", and that Stormtroopers of the future have been trained to fight with swords and shields. 

A more complex permutation of the rumour holds that Finn is the protege of the mysterious Captain Phasma, played by Game of Thrones actress, Gwendoline Christie.

"This would explain why she takes interest more in where he is than other individual Stormtroopers," says Starwars7news. "So if that's the case, Finn ditching the army is most likely seen as an extremely dire situation by the First Order, and Captain Phasma would have a personal reason to lead a manhunt against her former pupil."

How serious is the merchandising going to be?

Star Wars creator George Lucas famously made his fortune by taking a (comparatively) low salary of just $150,000 for the first Star Wars movie but keeping hold of all merchandising rights and everything sequel-related. Before the first film was released, studio heads thought that Star Wars might turn out to be just another sci-fi space drama. Lucas knew better: between 1977 and 1978, the film sold $100 million worth of toys and, according to, Star Wars-themed toys have now generated more than $12 billion. So it should come as no surprise that a barrage of new toys and products is being lined up for The Force Awakens' pre-Christmas release.

So how much junk is going to be available? A lot. Alongside the usual selection of light sabers, action figures and costumes, Petco just announced a line of Star Wars 7-themed pet toys including the STAR WARS Kylo Ren™ rope wrap dog toy: $12.99 and the STAR WARS Captain Phasma™ rope wrap dog toy: $12.99.

"Response to the highly anticipated Star Wars Pet Fans Collection has been exceptional," Rebecca Frechette, senior vice president of merchandising for Petco said. "We're thrilled to be a part of the Force Friday global event and bring these new characters to life for our furry fans and their pet parents."

As Yoda said: "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."



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