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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - The Cast Talks Personal Bonds

Cast new and old reminisce about being in the last Star Wars ever!

Dec 12, 2019

In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we will finally learn Rey’s origin and see if Han and Leia’s son Kylo Ren/Ben Solo crosses over into the light or retains his dark ambitions. What will happen to the rebellion against the evil “First Order” empire?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Final Trailer



The Star Wars films have always managed to tell epic, blockbuster tales while keeping the emphasis on the characters. There are always sorrow, humor and huge stakes galore. With this long-awaited wrap up of the biggest Sci-Fi epic film series ever on the horizon, we checked with cast members who all have profound memories of their work on the film and, in some cases, Star Wars films before it.

Heroes assembleHeroes assembleCourtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Participating in this interview are: Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Billy Dee Williams (Lando), Keri Russell (new character Zorii Bliss), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) and writer/director J.J. Abrams.

Q: Oscar Issacs, Poe feels different in this. Is there something different about him this time?

  • Oscar: He’s always been a bit of a wild card in energy and figuring out where he fits in the story and what story is being told. J.J. and I talked about dirtying up the squeaky image he’s had for a bit and revealing a bit more of a personality. I think that comes out because I’ve been taken away from my little box in space. I get to join my friends this time. We get to see the interaction with the three and the hope that I think he, in particular, brings to this one is a kind of relentless, almost aggressive optimism. He tries to be there for his friends and tries to push them along even when it seems quite hopeless.

Oscar Isaacs as Poe Dameron with Anthony Daniels as C-3POOscar Isaacs as Poe Dameron with Anthony Daniels as C-3PO

Q: John, you and Oscar have a great bromance.

  • John: It’s juicy.

Q: Was that connection something you had to work at or was it just natural?

  • John: Yeah. I think it was just natural from day one. When Oscar first came in--there were other actors that I read with--but the chemistry was blatant and there was a natural vibe between me and Oscar. I don’t know why. I just liked the guy.
  • Oscar interrupts: He walked into my dressing room and he was so sweet. “Do you want to run the scene”? “Yeah”. We were in the dressing room, like, butt to butt running the scene together and from then on we’ve been in that position. (laughter).
  • John: There’s a real chemistry. I’ve felt the most comfortable when I was auditioning doing the scenes where Poe was involved anyway because I’ve always liked the guys in the film, I really liked the boys. I love that element. That defined our relationship.

John Boyega as FinnJohn Boyega as Finn

Q: What did you learn from this part? Anything that surprised you that you learned now that we're in the final episode?

  • John: I just like loyalty. Loyalty I find very, very important in my personal life. Proactive love is something that Finn does on a day to day basis. Throughout the film, a lot of times, Rey is going off on this really hard journey as a character blessed with so much power and Finn tries to support her in that journey and sometimes it’s hard. In my real life, if I’ve tried to get caught up with you (to Daisy) three or four times, and you’re going off and I’m going to need you alone. Finn’s going to come for you and try to make it work regardless. I’m not built like that. In general I’m a nice guy. Obviously, I’m not always nice.

Q: So Adam, Kylo Ren is also Ben Solo or has he rejected that and I should not use those words?

  • Adam: Yes and no.

Q: Did you bring that Solo legacy into the performance with you at all?

  • Adam: In this one? I think maybe subconsciously. When people are actively trying to deny a certain part of their lives, I think they can do it pretty successfully. It is what is happening around them that brings it out in them. I think maybe but I don’t think it is something that we actively talked about playing. From the beginning the film called “Force Awakens” was intentional in that it was the Force awakening for both sides, the light and the dark. I guess it is a subconscious thought in playing it. It’s also a subconscious thought in me as an actor thinking about it.

Adam Driver as Kylo RenAdam Driver as Kylo Ren

Q: Keri Russell, who do you play? Zorii Bliss? She’s hot and bad ass. She’s masked. How was that to play for you?

  • Keri: J.J. emailed me and said ‘Do you want to be in Star Wars?’ I was like ‘Yeah’. Then he told me about the idea of the mask and yeah, personally I loved the mask. That’s my fantasy that I can see everyone while in a super tough version of myself costume and no one can see me. That’s my dream. It’s a real power play in a way. I’ve known J.J. for so long and I just love that he got to finish a piece of history in a way by getting to do this.
  • J.J.: Keri loved the mask so much that the first two days she wore it as Zorii, the entire two days, I never saw her face. She could have, like most people taken the mask off between takes or after a couple of hours or after the whole day but she walked onto set not in character with the mask on. “Hey, do you wanna take that off?” “No”.
  • Keri: It was awesome.

Keri Russell as Zorii BlissKeri Russell as Zorii Bliss

Q: Kelly Marie Tran, you’re back as Rose Tico. What was it like getting the gang back together?

  • Kelly: It was really wonderful. I think, from the last movie, there seems to be such a bond between everyone and also the new guys. It sounds so cheesy and so cliché but it is. It truly feels like everyone’s a family and we’re just there to have fun and be part of something that is so much bigger than us as individuals and that’s a really cool thing to share with people.

Q: You were in a lot of large group scenes that denoted community. What was the feeling on set of doing that large group work?

  • Kelly: For me, personally, there was a lot of me wanting to honor this thing and do right by this thing. I think (the character) is pretty f-ing incredible in this movie.

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose TicoKelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico

Q: Joonas, why has the Chewbacca character endured so well?

  • Joonas: (He does the Chewbacca growl) We have to go back to 1977 when George found Peter Mayhew to play this character, nobody knew what it was going to be. You don’t know going into these things how it is gonna look. Chewbacca’s endurance has to do with the fact that there is a unique physicality that I sort of inherited and I try to bring on the screen. It’s very unique the way Chewbacca appears on screen. That’s what created the memorability of that character. When Peter passed this year I was heartbroken but I’d like to think that, in this film, I attempted to do him justice. If my son is in the room I’d like to say (he does a classic Chewy growl). He knows what that means.

Joonas as Chewy with Rey piloting the FalconJoonas as Chewy with Rey piloting the FalconCourtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Q: Anthony Daniels you have been in all the Star Wars episodes. This is your final one as C-3PO. Thanks for what you’ve given.

  • Anthony: Thanks for saying that and thanks to everybody who has been fond of 3P0 over the years. Thank you very much.

Q: Can you sum up your journey as an actor in these films?

  • Anthony: I just realized in the last few months something that I hadn’t gotten before. I’ve only just realized because I’ve been in all of them and the spin-offs and stuff, I am so close to it. It’s like having your nose up against the planet. You can’t see just how big that planet is. Gradually now, I’m beginning to get a perspective on it. That comes from talking to fans, to people who say what Star Wars has meant to them over the years. It’s meant something completely different to me. It’s a job. It’s kind of fun. It’s kind of awkward sometimes. It’s not a smooth ride. But, I’m beginning to see it from the perspective of the audience who’ve been there all this time. I’m really glad to have survived long enough to get this perspective.

Anthony Daniels as C-3POAnthony Daniels as C-3PO

Q: Billy Dee Williams, thanks for this part of Lando. Talk about coming back to play Lando so many years later.

  • Billy: This has been a great pleasure for me coming back to do Lando. I didn’t think that it would happen. I just wrote it off you know and said well, I did what I had to do and that was it but when I got the call from J.J., and we met I just sat there and I jumped because I thought it was a wonderful gift. I’m a very happy human being right now. Thank you very much.

Billy is happy to plan Lando againBilly is happy to plan Lando again

Q: So Daisy, how did you manage playing so many scenes that were both physically and emotionally demanding?

  • Daisy: It’s a good question. With the physical stuff you train and train and train and then you are helped on the day to do the thing but the stamina needs to be there for you to continue to do it. I would say that I was more tired emotionally because there really wasn’t a day where I was like ‘Oh, it’s just a quick scene’. Coming from the last movie which was quite heavy, even the joyous scenes I found very strange to do and then obviously there is a lot of other stuff going on and it was also tricky understanding what J.J. was asking me. I’d feel like ‘I know what you’re asking. I just can’t quite get there yet’. So that was probably the most tricky thing, sustaining that emotion.

Daisy had physical and emotional challenges on the filmDaisy had physical and emotional challenges on the film

Q: What was it about the joyous scenes that created more of an obstacle for you?

  • Daisy: It’s just (keeping up the) strength. I’ve gone from a lot of things like ‘Please be my friend Luke’. And he is like ‘No way’. ‘No, please’ and then very much the stuff with Adam. Coming back was so great but it would be so easy to just flow into it but am I acting? Is that what is required? Because I’m basically bouncing off Oscar and John and Joonas and Anthony in such a joyous way that it’s like having a chat with your pals. It is strange wondering how that general vibe is going to translate in a scene.

Rey defends the rebel causeRey defends the rebel cause

Q: Daisy, what do you want your legacy to be?

  • Daisy: Oh my gosh. A lot of people in cinema are talking about representation and change (Diversity). In itself, being part of a team of people that look a little different, that are from different places in whatever form that is, gender, race, whatever it is, I think that, in itself, is a legacy to be proud of. This is a film of hope and I think we are reflective of the world at large. There are a lot of people up against (huge) forces that are fighting the good fight. We know the characters aren’t real but what they’re doing is perilous in cinema so to be able to portray even a tiny part of that in this crazy world is very special.

Rey (Daisy) vs. Kylo (Adam) in a key battleRey (Daisy) vs. Kylo (Adam) in a key battle

Q: John I remember way back when you did Attack the Block and you had your first press conference. How does it feel to have a global audience love you for this Finn character knowing that you came from independent movies?

  • John: I’m not the only one in it so it’s cool to be able to share the load. I’ve been on this journey with Daisy really more than anyone else just in terms of circumstance and understanding of culture. There’s a hundred percent of understanding our background and where we’re from and while we were auditioning, we were able to relate. Actors often have this mystery about the personal things. We stripped that bare.
  • If I experience something that’s weird (related to Star Wars) or if I’m at the store and I just saw something, I’ll always message Daisy because I know that is somebody who would one hundred percent relate and I guess that has been my way of experiencing the whole thing. But, it has definitely also been a huge life change for all of us and that, in itself, is exciting.

Rey, Poe and colleagues aboard the FalconRey, Poe and colleagues aboard the Falcon

Q: What has Star Wars been all about to you J.J.?

  • J.J.: Star Wars to me was about hope and community. It was about the underdog and about bringing people together. Seeing all oddballs represented and the most unlikely friends in the most unlikely places and the family that you make is really your family. It’s about hope and unity. If Star Wars can’t do that for us I don’t know what can.

Director/writer J.J. Abrams on set with OscarDirector/writer J.J. Abrams on set with Oscar

See Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters Friday, December 20th

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie PosterCourtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.
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By: Lynn Barker