ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at Creators.co
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. More ramblings on Twitter @ExtraTremeerial
Eleanor Tremeer

After the runaway success of The Force Awakens, we're all counting down the hundreds of days until [Star Wars: Episode VIII](tag:711868) hits cinemas. Filming has now officially begun on the next installment of the Star Wars saga and though we might not know much, the official synopsis and other little hints tell us a lot more than you might expect. So here's all you need to know about Star Wars VIII...

Set Photos Reveal New Aliens

Filming for Star Wars: Episode VIII has almost finished in Dubrovnik, but before production packs up and moves on, eagle-eyed fans managed to snap a few pictures of some of the new aliens we can expect to see. The crew seems to have really pulled out all the stops as far as prosthetics go; there's an alien with white skin and large black eyes, reminiscent of the classic alien designs of the 1950s. Another alien has a fishlike face and golden markings. And there's even a giant prosthetic that took several crew members to lift! You can see them all here.

The Dubrovnik set already sparked much speculation thanks to the set designs. Fans pointed out the combination of an old-world aesthetic with futuristic neon set dressings.

This led some to theorize that Luke Skywalker and Rey were embarking on a quest into Jedi history. And now it looks like there's plenty more to wonder about, with futuristic-looking speeders and well-dressed characters, who MakingStarWars claim are senators.

It's possible that instead of an ancient world, the Dubrovnik set is actually a thriving metropolis full of weird and wonderful creatures. The Croatian medieval walled city is an interesting choice for this and will offer a nice juxtaposition between old and new, which Star Wars is known for.

Production Announcement And Synopsis

Rian Johnson teased fans with this production announcement video, showing us a snippet of a scene from Star Wars: Episode VIII.

This is basically just recreating the final scene of Star Wars VII, though it does finally give us a close-up of Luke Skywalker. It also confirms that Episode VIII will begin right from where The Force Awakens left off, debunking the theory that there would be a time jump between the two films. Given that Star Wars has never featured a flashback sequence, it's unlikely that this is part of a retrospective scene.

The synopsis also reveals more than you might expect:

Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Although Rey stands out as the main protagonist of The Force Awakens, she's still part of an ensemble cast, and it's definitely possible for Episode VIII to shine the spotlight on another character.

Rey by Vanity Fair.
Rey by Vanity Fair.

But the synopsis frames Star Wars VIII as primarily driven by Rey's journey to becoming a Jedi, which confirms that she'll continue to be the main protagonist of the new saga.

It's interesting that Finn, Poe Dameron and Luke Skywalker are all mentioned in the synopsis. This implies they'll all play leading roles in the plot. No surprise for Finn or Luke, but while Poe Dameron didn't feature much in The Force Awakens, it looks like his role in the story is about to get a lot bigger. And this could be one of the reasons Episode VIII underwent script rewrites recently.

Script Rewrites Focus On Rey, Finn And Poe

Although the script was completed last year, recent reports of rewrites gave fans cause for concern.

Rey, BB-8 and Finn in "The Force Awakens."
Rey, BB-8 and Finn in "The Force Awakens."

Jeff Sneider of The Wrap reported on the rewrites perhaps being aimed at boosting Rey and Finn's stories:

"I said before there were two young female roles, now I actually heard that the rewrite will make these roles smaller. They want to get to know better the characters they already have. So the new rewrite is shrinking the new roles in order to spend more time with Rey, Poe and so on."

This actually makes a lot of sense. Production on the Star Wars VIII script had to begin in early 2015, as Disney wanted the movies to be released as close together as possible. It's fantastic to know that Lucasfilm is taking the fan reaction into account, ensuring the plot focuses on the characters audiences responded well to.

And speaking of new characters, here's what we know of the casting so far.

New Players

A couple of veteran actors have joined Star Wars VIII, along with an intriguing newcomer. So far the new cast members are:

  • Benicio Del Toro, rumored to play the film's antagonist.
  • Laura Dern of Jurassic Park fame.
  • Kelly Marie Tran, a relative unknown.

We still don't know who they're playing, but these new roles are very intriguing.

Del Toro, Dern and Tran.
Del Toro, Dern and Tran.

From this point on, all we have is speculation, but Daisy Ridley has promised more information soon.

Rian Johnson's Upcoming Teasers

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Ridley discussed the differences between J.J. Abrams and Johnson's methods of direction:

"I think Rian actually wants to be a bit cheekier with the little tidbits of information that are going out. Which is fun! ... Even obviously Carrie [Fisher] and Mark [Hamill] putting out the pictures with their chairs. It's a little bit freer, than it was [before]."

The pictures in question did cause a bit of a stir, especially as Carrie Fisher's tweet featured the film's working title: Space Bear. Mark Hamill also teased the introduction of new aliens...

With Star Wars VIII still so far away, it's good to know we can look forward to plenty more set pictures and maybe even some teaser videos to give us a glimpse at the production.

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[Sources: TMZ, MakingStarWars, Meet The Movie Press podcast, ComingSoon, Entertainment Tonight]

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