Now that “Avengers: Endgame” has dominated the box office around the world, the next massive Hollywood franchise ender to arrive in theaters is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Lucasfilm is touting the upcoming space adventure as the final installment in the Skywalker saga that George Lucas first started with the 1977 original, so it’s not surprising nearly everything about the film has been kept under lock and key. Fortunately, a sprawling new Vanity Fair cover story on “The Rise of Skywalker” lifts the curtain on a few mysterious details about the film.
Sources at Disney confirmed to Vanity Fair that the Knights of Ren will appear in “The Rise of Skywalker” after making their debut in “The Force Awakens.” A photo from the set shows director J.J. Abrams working with masked actors who are starring as the Knights of Ren. The scene appears to be shot in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert, which is what the “Rise of Skywalker” production used for the planet Pasaana.
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The Knights of Ren is an order of Dark Side warriors who served under Supreme Leader Snoke. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is the master of the group, but the members were only briefly seen in “The Force Awakens.” Their role in the film mostly boiled down to a line Snoke told Kylo: “Even you, master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test.” With the Knights of Ren confirmed to appear in “The Rise of Skywalker,” audiences might finally learn more details about Kylo’s rise to power and his Force training under Snoke.
The Vanity Fair cover story also reveals the mysterious roles new cast members Keri Russell and Richard E. Grant are playing. Russell is seen in one photo sporting a metallic outfit for her character, “the masked scoundrel Zorri Bliss.”
Grant, meanwhile, is playing First Order leader Allegiant General Pryde. The character is photographed on Kylo Ren’s destroyer alongside General Hux, who has been played by Domhnall Gleeson since “The Force Awakens.” Grant is coming off his first Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actor, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”). While the actor is now confirmed to be a “Star Wars” bad guy, Russell’s role remains ambiguous.
Abrams told Vanity Fair that he’s aware he stuck closely to the “Star Wars” tradition with “The Force Awakens,” but that loyalty is not something he felt he had to repeat with “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently,” the director said. “Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to ‘Star Wars’ in a way that was interesting—I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt ‘Star Wars’ should be. [This time] it felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, Fuck it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”
Disney will release “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in theaters nationwide December 20.