At last month’s Star Wars Celebration, Disney and Lucasfilm revealed the title and first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding chapter of the nine-film Skywalker saga. Vanity Fair now has a lengthy behind-the-scenes look at the film, accompanied by more than a dozen new images from photographer Annie Liebovitz.
There’s very little new information about the plot of The Rise of Skywalker to be gleaned from the article, which includes interviews with director J.J. Abrams and several of the main cast members. The film picks up about a year after the end of The Last Jedi, and the origin of the First Order will be explored. The Knights of Ren appear in one of the photos, though it’s not known whether they appear in the present day of the movie or a flashback. Beyond that, interviewees speak in more generalized terms about the themes of the movie and the experience of making it. One particularly interesting tidbit from Abrams comes when the director talks about how his mindset about making The Rise of Skywalker is different from that of making The Force Awakens:
“Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently,” he says. “Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting—I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt Star Wars should be.” But this time something changed. Abrams found himself making different choices—for the camera angles, the lighting, the story. “It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, Fuck it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”
The images that accompany the article provide us with our first looks at some of the new characters and locales featured in the film. Keri Russell’s new character, Zorri Bliss, debuts, as does Richard E. Grant’s First Order officer, Allegiant General Pryde. We also get another look at Naomi Ackie’s new character, Jannah. There’s a lot of desert in these photos, but also looks at different worlds that feature lush greenery, strong rains, or a light dusting of snow.
The full Vanity Fair article is an interesting, entertaining read, even if it’s not as spoiler-filled as some might have hoped—there’s no mention of Emperor Palpatine’s apparent return, as teased at the end of the first trailer. You can check out the article and all of the images here, or take a look at a few of the noteworthy images from the piece below. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is due out at the end of the year.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.