It would stand to reason that the weeks following Star Wars Celebration would be light on Star Wars news, considering those five days gave the fans a movie title, a new trailer, lots of details about the Mandalorian TV show and the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park attraction, and all kinds of other smaller tidbits. And yet, there's been a steady stream of news ever since. It is a May the Fourth miracle? Doesn't matter; we'll take it. Your full roundup of Star Wars news is below.
Before we go any further, however, we need to note the sad passing of Peter Mayhew, the man who brought Chewbacca to life. He appeared in five Star Wars movies as the character—the original trilogy, as well as Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens—in addition to playing Chewbacca on the much derided Star Wars Holiday Special and an episode of The Muppet Show; he also was the official "Chewbacca Consultant" on 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, having passed the role onto Joonas Suotamo due to concerns about his health. (He'd undergone double knee replacement surgery in 2013, and was hospitalized in 2015 for pneumonia; in 2018, he'd reveal that he had also undergone spinal surgery to help with mobility issues.) Beloved by fans and fellow cast members, Mayhew's family announced his death last week. He was 74.
The Palpatine Laugh in the Rise of Skywalker Trailer Isn't From the Movie
The Source: The Emperor himself, Ian McDiarmid
Probability of Accuracy: If anyone would know what Palpatine is up to, it's McDiarmid.
The Real Deal: For everyone wondering what to make of Emperor Palpatine's laugh in the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, here's a frustrating new detail to consider: The laughter isn't actually from the movie at all, but is apparently library audio from some unknown source. "They did let me into the secret that the Emperor might be laughing, but I have to tell you that that particular laugh was not specially recorded, they found it somewhere," Ian McDiarmid—who would know, given that he’s played Sheev Palpatine since 1983's Star Wars: Return of the Jedi—said in an interview after the trailer dropped. "Probably from one of the old movies or in a digital vault or maybe George's iPhone, I don't know." But for those who might think that's a sign that the Emperor doesn't re-appear in the new movie, J.J. Abrams has confirmed that Palpatine will show up. File under "Somewhat confusing."
George Lucas Worked on the Story for The Rise of Skywalker
The Source: Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams
Probability of Accuracy: While J.J. may hedge his bets or mislead to protect story points, he's hardly going to outright lie about something like this.
The Real Deal: For those curious just how faithful The Rise of Skywalker will be to the vision of Star Wars creator George Lucas, a new interview with co-writer and director J.J. Abrams has the answer fans were undoubtedly looking for: Very. "This movie had a very, very specific challenge, which was to take eight films and give an ending to three trilogies, and so we had to look at, what is the bigger story?" Abrams told IGN, before dropping a piece of information that might not have snuck out previously: "We had conversations amongst ourselves [and] we met with George Lucas before writing the script." That fact that Lucas dropped by the set of The Mandalorian came out during Star Wars Celebration, but the fact that he consulted on the screenplay for The Rise of Skywalker is something altogether new—and a sign that the Skywalker Saga will have an ending that should make die-hard fans very happy indeed.
Is the Doctor in The Rise of Skywalker or Not?
The Source: Both Matt Smith and Disney's own publicity departments
Probability of Accuracy: This one is entirely unclear, but let's go with "it's very probable he's in the movie" and hope for the best.
The Real Deal: The question of whether or not Matt Smith is actually in The Rise of Skywalker continues to be an open one, apparently. Longtime readers may remember that he was rumored to be appearing in the movie, but then he told a reporter that he definitely wasn't. Which would seem to be the end of it, except that Disney keeps listing him in official notices. (To make matters stranger, Smith's name has since been removed after people noticed.) This would all apparently add up to the idea that he is, in fact, in the movie, but that it's meant to be kept under wraps for now. Which just raises the question, who is he going to be playing?
The Battle at the Climax of Rise of Skywalker … Revealed?
The Source: Informed speculation from our friend, the internet
Probability of Accuracy: There's literally no way to tell right now, but skip this just in case if you're spoiler-phobic.
The Real Deal: One potential solution to who Matt Smith is playing—and just why it is being treated as such a secret—can be found in a spoiler-filled theory put forward at fansite Making Star Wars. Warning: If you don't want to risk potential spoilers for the movie, skip ahead to the next item right now. No, really. Still here? OK, here we go: Made up of what could, at best, be described as informed speculation based on set visits and anonymous sources, the theory goes something like this: Smith will play an acolyte of the Dark Side of the Force who ends up possessed by Palpatine, and is ultimately killed by Kylo Ren during a battle between Smith's character, Kylo Ren, and Rey, which causes Kylo Ren himself to become possessed by Palpatine, setting up a final confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren. Obviously, it's almost impossible to judge how genuine this theory may be with the release of the movie more than six months away, but it certainly sounds like it could have a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? (Especially if Kylo Ren undergoes a last-minute turn away from the Dark Side, à la Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi as a result of all of this.)
A Galaxy Far, Far Away Changes Addresses
The Source: Fan site Making Star Wars
Probability of Accuracy: It seems to be happening for sure.
The Real Deal: Speaking of Making Star Wars, it posted about what could be the end of an era with the news that Lucasfilm and Disney are apparently moving future Star Wars productions away from Pinewood Studios, where every Star Wars movie since Disney took control of the franchise has been filmed. Instead, the site reports, both the Disney+ Cassian Andor series and the upcoming movies from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will both be shot in a new permanent Star Wars studio location elsewhere in the UK, likely in east London town Dagenham. Well, at last it'll stay somewhat local. (The move from Pinewood is apparently the result of Marvel Studios needing the space; given that there are currently three Marvel movies released each year, versus an uncertain schedule for future Star Wars movies, it certainly seems like a smart move on behalf of Disney.)