Happy New Year! The biggest The Force Awakens news of December was the announcement by Entertainment Weekly of several character names using the style of vintage trading cards: Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, soccer ball droid’s BB-8, and whoever the heck’s Kylo Ren. Also confirmed is that this “Kylo Ren” is a male, and that the remaining ships and characters we saw are indeed “stormtroopers,” the Millennium Falcon, and so forth. Conspicuously not confirmed is Rey’s surname and parentage (is she a Skywalker/Solo? an Organa, for that matter?), and of course the actor playing the Sith-like character of Kylo Ren (possibly Adam Driver). Finn’s full name is also left out, making me wonder again if his family is also already known to us. Of course, we still have just under a year to go! Here is the page on the official site.
In similar news: There is another new character name reported but no actor or visual to go with it, so this Han Solo picture will do. Captain Phasma is rumored to be played by Gwendoline Christie, who seems likely to play a soldier (and therefore someone with a military title).
Saturday Night Live did a hilarious parody of the TFA teaser, this time focusing on our classic trilogy heroes (link has an embedded Hulu video).
Speaking of which, Mark Hamill did an awesome interview with Yahoo! Movies’s Gwynne Watkins, and not just about Star Wars; he was promoting his voice role in the animated Elf TV special. Hamill sounds grounded and genuine, as usual. Here is commentary by Screencrush.
What does George Lucas think of all this? According to the NY Post, not much. We Star Wars fans tend to have strong opinions about this, so I enjoyed this thoughtful essay about humans and their feelings and stuff.
Lastly, Andy Serkis, who did the voice-over for the teaser, was confirmed on EW to play only one character in TFA. So whoever he is playing is the type of person who knows enough about the Force to do monologues about its dark and light sides, but not confirmed is whether his character is associated with Kylo Ren (or is Kylo Ren, for that matter), or whether he is live action or motion capture (Screencrush suggests the latter because of his obvious skill set). Regarding information and spoilers, I think Serkis is worth quoting here: The secrecy is not about wanting to withhold from fans, “it’s about not wanting to spoil anything for anyone. The expectation is massive, and nobody wants to ruin it in any way. I think that’s right. No one wants to, by saying the wrong thing or being misleading, you don’t want to dilute it.”
Personally, I care a lot more about how an actor plays a character, how the story was written, and how the crew worked behind the scenes to make the movie the best it could be, than about getting more “news tidbits.” I recall watching an interview with an actor in a TV series with too many questions like “can you give us any hints about what happens in the next season?!” and nothing like “what problems did you run into when trying to create this character believably?” But in cases like this, until the movie comes out there’s only so much the cast and crew can say.