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All the new things we know about The Force Awakens today

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been releasing some big reveals through Entertainment Weekly's fall movie preview issue today. Here's what we know now:

New Photos

Go ahead: check out nine new pictures from the set of The Force Awakens. No, we don't know what that strange steed? Why, that's a "luggabeast," being ridden by a being known as Teedo. Daisy Ridley's rescuing BB-8 free from his net.

The State of the Galaxy

J.J. Abrams Lawrence Kasdan Force Awakens

Entertainment Weekly summed it up:

The Empire has morphed into a junta known as The First Order, while X-Wing pilots like Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron now fly for a splinter group known as the Resistance. Princess Leia (Fisher) has come into possession of the lightsaber once possessed by her father, Darth Vader, and later lost by Luke (Hamill) when Vader separated him from his arm during that "join me" duel in The Empire Strikes Back.

The amount of screentime the Skywalker twins may get is still unclear, although Luke's fate is obviously a key factor. Ford's Han Solo, however, will be one of the leads, piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside his old pal Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew.) Among the newcomers, desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and runaway stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) will be running for their lives, with the rolling droid BB-8 trying to keep up. Eventually all five of them end up aboard that familiar starship.

On Team Dark Side is Darth Vader obsessive Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), The First Order's merciless General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and chrome-armored officer Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (pictured above, on set with Abrams) also told the magazine this about writing older, more experienced versions of Han, Luke and Leia:

"I thought, ‘Wow, okay, these people have lived — they're in a different place in their lives, Han and Leia and so on. They've lived the same 30 years I have. What would that be like? How would you see things differently?' And I was trying to figure out how I saw things differently, and one of the surprises is that you don't learn all that much. You haven't become much wiser than you were, and things are not clearer to you, and the world is just as confusing as it always was — and that's a kind of lovely thing to get to write about again. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom; it just brings experience."

It's an interesting quote, which twins nicely with the question that J.J. Abrams said convinced him to take on directorial duties on The Force Awakens in a time when he wasn't sure if he would:

"Who is Luke Skywalker?"

Kylo Ren

Force Awakens Kylo Ren

  • That crazy three-pronged lightsaber that became something of the signature symbol of the first footage we saw from the film? He built it himself, naturally. "The lightsaber is ... as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character," director J.J. Abrams told EW.
  • Kylo Ren isn't his actual name. It's a name (Kylo) and a title (Ren) he earned or chose when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren. What exactly the Knights of Ren are or what it means to join them remains a mystery.
  • Kylo's mask is a deliberate reference to Darth Vader on the part of the production and the character. "[Ren] is well aware of what's come before," says Abrams, "and that's very much a part of the story of the film."
  • "I think that what makes Ren so unique is that he isn't as fully formed as when we meet a character such as Darth Vader," Abrams told Entertainment Weekly. "And I think that there are two sides to the Force. Both sides, arguably, would see themselves as the hero of their story, and I think that applies here."

What's In a Name?

Rey Finn Force Awakens Lucasfilm

As a setting, Star Wars has always had, shall we say, eclectic naming conventions. Entertainment Weekly grilled Abrams about the origins and quirks of the new names he's created for the franchise.

  • On Rey and Finn: "I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren't public record."
  • Poe Dameron is named after Abram's assistant, Morgan Dameron. As for his first name, "We went through a bunch of different names, and Poe ultimately felt like the right name," Abrams told EW. "Someone reminded me recently that my daughter had had a polar bear named Poe ... and that might've been why it felt right. There was a kind of sweetness to, and a charm to that name."
  • BB-8? "It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B's."
  • Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma was named for the 1979 film Phantasm, a horror flick that featured a deadly silver sphere. "Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan's wardrobe team. It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm, and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool."

Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer