Disney CEO Bob Iger made a statement Thursday that offered relief to the Star Wars fandom – then said another thing that sent it into a frenzy of shock.
He was speaking at the Scale – Future of Tech and Entertainment conference in a Q&A with his wife, journalist Willow Bay, when talk turned to the galaxy far, far away.
Bay asked what he could share, and Iger said, basically, not much.
“I’ve seen [Episode VIII] and VIII is quite good,” he said about December’s The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson. “It picks up where VII left off. We’re really excited about it. I can’t disclose much about because that’s not what we do.”
“You can disclose a little about it, though,” Bay nudged.
“Nope. No, not even to you,” her husband replied. “Every once in a while I’ll watch dailies on my laptop in my bed, under the covers, Particularly since we have teenage boys.”
The part he did reveal involved the fate of Princess Leia after the death of Carrie Fisher. It turns out 2019’s still-untitled Episode IX, directed by Colin Trevorrow, will have to deal with that sad reality all on its own.
“She appears throughout VIII. And what I can say about that is, we’re not changing VIII to deal with her passing,” Iger said. “So her performance, which we’re really pleased with, remains as it was in VIII.”
Now for the part that will relieve many fans of General Leia. “In Rogue One we created digitally a few characters. One had been an actor who actually passed away and was in an earlier Star Wars film,” he said, referring to Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. “We’re not doing that with Carrie.”
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That sounds rock solid. Whatever happens within the story, we won’t be seeing recently deceased actors resurrected in the franchise.
Here comes the part that sent the Star Wars fandom into a tailspin.
Iger shifted to the young Han Solo movie, and broke some news about the plot.
“That picks up Han Solo when he was 18 years old and takes him through when he was 24,” the CEO said. “There were a few things that happened [that were] significant in Han Solo’s life, like acquiring a certain vehicle and meeting a certain Wookiee, that will happen in this film. But you’ll also discover how he got his name.”
That last part – “how he got his name” – just launched a thousand fan theories.
EW reached out to Disney representatives for clarification of the meaning, but it sounds a lot like Han Solo isn’t this character’s original moniker. If that’s the case, it sounds like lifelong fans are going to have a Don Draper/Dick Whitman situation on their hands.
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Or did he just mean “name” as in “reputation”? There’s debate about that, too. Whatever we hear back, we’ll pass along.
Otherwise, Iger said Disney and Lucasfilm are “just starting to talk about what happens to Star Wars after IX. We have a creative team thinking about what could be another decade and a half on Star Wars stories.”
The 66-year-old, who also announced today he would be extending his contract to stay on as Chairman and CEO through July 2019, said spending an afternoon talking about those possibilities counts as the “fun” side of his job.