“It Better Be Fun”: What We Learned from Vanity Fair’s Article About the Future of Star Wars and Lucasfilm

This morning, Star Wars fans were inundated with quotes and news from an in-depth article in the magazine Vanity Fair, which has been covering the franchise for decades.

In the bullet-point list below, I’ve enumerated the more fascinating tidbits and factoids to come out of this Vanity Fair piece, which covers the future of the franchise as a number of highly anticipated live-action television series coming to Disney+ like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Ahsoka, and the upcoming third season of The Mandalorian (though it also touches on the development of future movies on the big screen).

  • Diego Luna (Cassian Andor) talks about the secrecy behind working for Lucasfilm.
  • Disney is aiming to release three separate Star Wars shows within a year to satisfy Disney+ subscribers.
  • Andor will be released late this summer.
  • The third season of The Mandalorian will be released either late this year or early next year.
  • The Acolyte will be set roughly 100 years before the Skywalker Saga.
  • Ewan McGregor confirms that his partner Mary Elizabeth Winstead will be in Ahsoka.
  • Luna describes Andor as “a refugee story, with desperate people fleeing the Empire at the full force of its power.” Showrunner Tony Gilroy goes on to say that the show will be about Cassian’s transformation into a rebel soldier during the expansion of the Empire.
  • Mon Mothma’s story will run parallel to Cassian Andor’s at first.
  • Unlike The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Andor was shot in London.
  • Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy says that Star Wars is unique because it’s really all one story.
  • Kennedy says Lucasfilm consciously regrouped and rethought the franchise during its “hiatus” after The Rise of Skywalker. The first decision was to get rid of the annual deadline to release a feature film.
  • She also says working on Star Wars now requires a multi-year commitment from filmmakers. Jon Favreau was the first creative she approached about that concept.
  • Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni had both started developing their own separate series about Mandalorians, and Kennedy was instrumental in combining their talents.
  • The idea of “The Child” (AKA Grogu) was debated “ferociously” between Favreau and Filoni. One particular piece of concept art helped sell the character.
  • There are now three StageCraft “Volumes” in Los Angeles, one in London, and one in Vancouver. Favreau and company knew the technology would work when director James Cameron stopped by The Mandalorian’s set and gave his seal of approval.
  • Favreau says the StageCraft technology allows them to make Star Wars content in half the time it used to.
  • Actor Pedro Pascal likes that he can accept other projects while playing bounty hunter Din Djarin because he doesn’t always have to be on set.
  • Ewan McGregor was disappointed by the “punishing” reviews received by The Phantom Menace when it was released in 1999, because it was a difficult decision for him to accept the role as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first place.
  • Introducing a film at a Star Wars marathon at the El Capitan Theatre helped him become enthusiastic about the franchise again. In interviews, he started saying he would like to play Obi-Wan again, and then Lucasfilm reached out to see if he meant it.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally intended to be a movie, directed by Stephen Daldry. Daldry departed when the project became a limited Disney+ series, and director Deborah Chow came aboard.
  • Darth Vader was not included in early iterations of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hayden Christensen is excited to come back and portray the character (formerly known as Anakin Skywalker) at a different time in his life.
  • Lucasfilm’s Story Group tried to come up with a way for Obi-Wan and Vader to meet in this series (an idea championed by Chow) that would enhance their final battle in the original Star Wars film rather than contradict it.
  • Rosario Dawson tried to FaceTime a friend’s child while dressed as Ahsoka Tano, but he responded by throwing the phone across the room in shock.
  • Dawson was fan-cast as Ahsoka, which made its way to Dave Filoni. She once shared a rumor that Christensen was to return as Skywalker in the Ahsoka series on social media, and Lucasfilm asked her to take it down. The company still hasn’t confirmed if the rumor was true or not.
  • Filoni says the story of Ahsoka is driving toward a singular goal: likely a conflict with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
  • Kennedy says she learned something from the box-office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Vanity Fair implies that it was too difficult to replace Harrison Ford as the character of Han Solo.
  • The writing for The Acolyte is largely complete, and the casting phase has begun. Showrunner Leslye Headland says that the series is a mystery thriller about how the galaxy came to be in the place it was at the beginning of the prequel trilogy. The Jedi uniforms will be gold and white like in the High Republic novels and comics.
  • There’s another new series on the horizon with the codename “Grammar Rodeo” (a Simpsons reference). This show will take place during the same post-Return of the Jedi time period as The Mandalorian. It’s created by Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts and writer Chris Ford. Lucasfilm describes it internally as “a galactic version of classic Amblin coming-of-age adventure films of the ’80s” (think The Goonies meets Star Wars) and it will star four children of ages 11 and 12.
  • On the big screen, director Taika Waititi’s Star Wars film is now likely to arrive first, with Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron following after that.
  • Kennedy denies that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is working on a specific Star Wars project.
  • She also all but admits that Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy is dead, or at least indefinitely postponed due to him being “unbelievably busy” with the Knives Out films and a Netflix deal..
  • Ultimately she wants the future of Star Wars and filmmaking at Lucasfilm to be fun.