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Leading up to the 40th anniversary of the @starwars franchise, Vanity Fair introduces the next chapter in its saga with four covers devoted to The Last Jedi

Photographs by Annie Leibovitz.

…Though that chrome-plated trooper suit is, by now, firmly a part of the Star Wars iconography, this portfolio is the first time Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma has shown her face. “I think a big part of the allure of her character was just wondering what might be underneath,” Hidalgo explains of keeping the Game of Thrones star helmeted in the first film of the current trilogy. “It was only relatively recently that we wanted to commit to the idea that there was a human under there. The Force Awakens left that question, but as we got further into Last Jedi, as well as some other stories we’re thinking about with Phasma, we had to ask ourselves, ‘All right, do we agree there’s a human under there?’ ”

The definitely human Phasma is also sporting a slick new weapon which, Hidalgo says, “doesn’t have a fancy name yet.” (But it will—these things always do.) Unlike the weapons we’re used to seeing in Star Wars—lightsabers and blasters—Phasma’s accessory is a retractable pole arm that collapses into a smaller, easy to carry form should she ever find herself shoved down a trash compactor again. This weapon, Hidalgo says, has a strong connection to Phasma’s history, which will be explored in a comic-book series out in September. “Her background,” Hidalgo hints, “is more low-tech than many would assume.” [x]

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Rose and Finn’s adventure takes them to, among other places, another Johnson innovation: a glittering casino city called Canto Bight, “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief,” the director said. “It was an interesting challenge, portraying luxury and wealth in this universe.” So much of the Star Wars aesthetic is rooted in sandy desolation and scrapyard blight; it appealed to Johnson to carve out a corner of the galaxy that is the complete opposite. “I was thinking, O.K., let’s go ultra-glamour. Let’s create a playground, basically, for rich assholes,” he said.

Canto Bight is also where viewers will get their multi-species fix of gnarled aliens and other grotesque creatures, a comic-relief staple of Star Wars movies since Luke Skywalker first met Han Solo amid the cankerous and snouty inhabitants of the Mos Eisley cantina. The Last Jedi is dark enough as it is, so Johnson has made a point of infusing the movie with levity. “I didn’t want this to be a dirge, a heavy-osity movie,” he said. “So one thing I’ve tried really hard to do is keep the humor in there, to maintain the feeling, amid all the heavy operatic moments, that you’re on a fun ride.” [x]