In a tradition that dates back to the release of 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Vanity Fair magazine has been the first major publication to run an extensive preview on each new installment in the Skywalker saga, accompanied by images from internationally acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Now that the above-mentioned saga is wrapping up this year with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, today saw the release of what may be the final issue of this two-decade-old custom. Vanity Fair’s latest cover story features a look at what’s to come when the highly anticipated Episode IX hits theaters this December.
On the cover of Vanity Fair’s “Exclusive First Look: Star Wars – On Set of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” issue, we find Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver reprising their roles as Rey and Kylo Ren respectively. In the enclosed article itself, we learn a number of new tidbits about what promises to be the climactic chapter of this Star Wars sequel trilogy, not to mention Episodes I-IX as a whole.
- Key scenes for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker were filmed in the valley of Wadi Rum in the country of Jordan, which stands in for a new fictional planet called Pasaana.
- The Knights of Ren (Kylo Ren’s “elite fearsome enforcers”) are confirmed to return for this film, after being notably absent from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
- Keri Russell plays a character named Zorri Bliss, described as a “masked scoundrel.”
- Another new planet is Kijimi, which the article says is dusted with snow.
- Richard E. Grant’s character is named Allegiant General Pryde, who appears to be a superior to Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux in the First Order navy.
- Legendary composer John Williams, who returns this year to create the score for his ninth Star Wars feature, never thought there would be a second.
- The article’s author, Lev Grossman, claims we will learn more about the origins of the First Order in The Rise of Skywalker.
- C-3PO has a line of dialogue that includes the phrase “common emblem” and, according to actor Anthony Daniels, the character also does something in the movie “that will surprise everyone.”
- The author implies Episode IX will conclude the millennia-long struggle between the Jedi and the Sith.
- Finn (John Boyega) and new character Jannah (Naomi Ackie) will ride horse-like creatures with tusks called orbaks.
- The Force bond between Rey and Kylo Ren will “turn out to run even deeper than previously revealed.”
- The late Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd returns as her character Lieutenant Connix from the previous two movies, and she has scenes in which she interacts with and even touches Leia, whose presence is created using deleted scenes from The Force Awakens.
- Rey has progressed in her training since The Last Jedi “to the point where it’s almost complete.”
- Finn is an active member of the Resistance now.
- The Rise of Skywalker picks up about a year after the end of The Last Jedi.
- Poe has stepped up to become a leader in the Resistance.
- A native group on the planet Pasaana is called the Aki-Aki.
- Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has concluded that Star Wars requires a different approach from Marvel. “You can’t turn this into some kind of factory approach. You can’t pick characters and build new franchises around those characters.”
- J.J. Abrams changed his approach to directing The Rise of Skywalker from how he tackled The Force Awakens. “It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released into theaters on Friday, December 20.
All photos by Annie Leibovitz.
Mike has been fascinated by theme parks and Disney all his life. He has worked in the entertainment journalism field since 2015, after spending a decade as a film projectionist at one of Hollywood’s most prestigious movie theaters. He resides in Burbank, California with his wife and cat.