Thanks to the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, Star Wars fans have been gifted a cornucopia of images, news and a new teaser trailer for Episode 9 of the Star Wars franchise, now officially revealed to be Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

No one is sure what that title could mean, especially since one Skywalker, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has eschewed his Skywalker ties for the dark side and another, Luke (Mark Hamill) is dead. The last Skywalker, Leia, was portrayed by Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016. But what we can tell you is that Black Excellence is all over this film. Here’s what you can expect later this year.

Billy Dee Williams divulges on reprising Lando Calrissian

Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm
Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Williams, in all his cool glory, joined Abrams, Kennedy and Colbert on stage to talk about what it’s been like to become Lando once again.

“Lando never left me,” he said as he responded to Colbert’s answer about jumping back into the role. An image of Williams back in costume as Lando, one of two that have been released so far, drove Williams’ point home.

“I didn’t expect to be in this little adventure. I got lucky,” he said. “I ended up working with somebody I have tremendous regard for. JJ Abrams…he’s a beautiful young man. He’s extraordinary.”

“…I’ve been doing this for a long time…and I’ve been fortunate to work with some pretty extraordinary people in my lifetime, but this is probably, I regard this as a real highlight for me. A true, genuine highlight in my life,” he continued.

Naomi Ackie on joining Star Wars

Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm
Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

The Star Wars‘ latest newcomer is UK actress Naomi Ackie, best known for her roles in Lady Macbeth and The Bisexual. She announced her character’s name is Jannah, but not much else could be divulged about how Jannah will play into the overall storyline.

“All I can really say is that the original group are going on this epic, epic adventure together and I’m so excited where Jannah crosses paths with them.”

The question of the day for Ackie was if her character is actually Lando’s daughter. Seeing how her character also wears yellow and cape-like fabric around her shoulders, it would seem her costuming might be a clue. However, Ackie was coy, saying, “Listen–Lando is a very charming man, so he could have children all over the universe. That’s all I’m saying.”

Regardless of who her father might be, Jannah will hopefully cement Black women’s importance in the Star Wars franchise, a feat that Solo: A Star Wars Story squandered by unceremoniously killing off Thandie Newton’s Val.

John Boyega on Finn’s evolution and #FinnPoe

Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm
Photo credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

John Boyega was his usual charismatic self on stage, giving fans a little information on where they find Finn several years into his story.

“On this adventure, Finn has found his footing and his identity within the Resistance,” he said. “In the last two movies, Finn couldn’t decide where he belonged, and in this film, he’s a full-fledged Resistance sexy young man.”

He added that his focus for Finn has been telling the story with costuming. “I always felt that Finn didn’t have his identity through [h]is costume, and JJ [said] to me ‘you’re going to love this one,'” he said. “I saw the blue pants…and I was like, [in American accent] ‘I’m in Star Wars now.'”

One of the big fandom notes that was touched on is Finn’s relationships with young Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley), mechanic-turned-Resistance hero Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Resistance fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac). When asked about if Finn is in a love triangle with Rey and Rose, Boyega said, “If you add Poe there as well…very complicated…it’s a love pentagon. It’s a lot going on.” He also said for anyone doubting Finn’s relationship status, “Finn is single and willing to mingle.”

Isaac also added to the #FinnPoe baiting, saying, “I think [Poe] takes his love for Finn very seriously.”

Let’s hope that the hints of Boyega and Isaac aren’t actual bait and are real hints at an actual on-screen same-sex relationship, especially since LGBT characterizations are what Abrams has promised in previous interviews.

You can hear the interviews for yourself in this replay below.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, will also star Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of alien Maz Kanata and will feature the first Black woman director of a Star Wars film, Victoria Mahoney. The film will be in theaters Dec. 20, 2019.


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