‘Star Wars’: J.J. Abrams Talks Captain Phasma, Colin Trevorrow, and More at D23

     August 15, 2015


Today at Disney’s D23 Expo, Disney and Lucasfilm broke out the big guns with their Star Wars Presentation, revealing iconic Star Wars artist Drew Struzan’s new poster, debuting the first image from Rogue One, and confirming Colin Trevorrow for Episode IX, and bringing the heroes The Force Awakens, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Issac for a little face time with the fans.

After the D23 Star Wars presentation, J.J. Abrams headed backstage to speak with the press. In a small group interview the Episode VII director chatted about Gwendoline Christie‘s character Captain Phasma and her stunning costume, the on magic of working with practical sets and costumes, the adorable reason why Chewie’s suit kept losing its fur, and what advice he would give the newly announced Episode IX director, Colin Trevorrow. Check out what Abrams had to say below.


Image via Lucasfilm

While we can’t really say we know much about any of The Force Awakens characters at this point, one of the most mysterious is Christie’s Captain Phasma — already a huge hit among fans, despite the fact that the film is still months away from release. What we do know is that she has an absolutely killer costume. Abrams wasn’t willing to reveal any new details about the character, but he talked about her stunning armor and the skill it takes to act in such an imposing costume.

I can only say that Gwendoline Christie is my favorite. She just killed it. You think, “Well, what? It’s wearing a costume.” But it’s a lot to wear and to have a performance when you’re wearing that requires a different kind of skill set and an additional talent, and she’s got it. It’s an incredible thing to work with her. I am glad that a character has been designed that is visually as stunning as that is, because she deserves it and the fans do to. When I first saw that design my mind was blown because it looked so undeniable.

Now that Trevorrow is a lock for Episode IX, what advice would Abrams have for the latest director to join the Star Wars family?

Colin doesn’t need my advice, he’s going to kill it. But I will say that he is going to be spoiled by this remarkable cast and incredible crew. I’m jealous that he gets to work with them, because they’re terrific, all of them.


Image via Lucasfilm

Abrams also spoke about working in an environment with such detailed costume and set work, and why he wanted to go the extra mile to ground the film with life-like practical sets.

Obviously it’s star wars and there are going to be thousands of CG shots in this movie, but it was really important to us that wherever it didn’t need to be, it wasn’t. It’s incredible how much gets sort pushed off to solve later. We’ll shoot it on blue and figure it out later. We’ll shoot it on green and we’ll make this up later. It was really important for a sense of authenticity that the set be built, the exterior, interior, that we go to real locations that were actually in the sun.

I know it sounds silly, but in the behind the scenes reel you see this giant gimbal of the Millennium Falcon cockpit and it was outdoors. The reason we did it – we didn’t have to do that, but the reason we wanted to was, you just can’t fake sunlight. You can do a pretty good imitation, but you can just tell. There was something about wanting to see Daisy’s character actually sitting in the cockpit with sunlight streaking across in motion. It’s a little detail and I’m not sure anyone’s going to care abut that, but it’s an incredible thing when you see it just how much better it looks because it’s real. So we just tried to do that as much as we could and it was often challenging but it was worth it.


Image via Lucasfilm

Finally, Abrams stated the inequitably true — you can’t deny Chewbacca. The irresistibly lovable alien got a lot of love on the set. So much, in fact, that the incessant stream of Chewie hugs took a toll on the costume, requiring the fur to be replaced multiple times.

There were these amazing people in the costume department who were sitting and punching in the hair – they literally take a needle that has the round part cut off and using it to punch in one hair at a time. They sit there for weeks at a time to finish the arm. It’s an incredibly time consuming job, and it seems like a thankless job, but I kept trying to thank them because they were doing such an amazing job. You can’t deny Chewbacca, so people were just constantly – whoever would visit the set or be there, even some extras, before the day was over they would go over and embrace Chewbacca. It was an ongoing thing, and one of the casualties was patches of hair on the suit.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives in theaters December 18th. You can catch up with all our D23 coverage here, or check out some of our most recent Star Wars coverage below.


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