Fair Warning: Some may consider some of the info presented below to be spoilers…
With less than three weeks to go before Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters, and with fans losing patience with the wait, last night, Luke Skywalker himself tweeted:
The #WaitForVIII is nearly over! Let me take this opportunity to personally ask you to keep all that happens in #TheLastJedi a secret for as long as is humanly possible. Thanking you ALL in advance, ❤️- mh #LooseLipsSinkStarships pic.twitter.com/LAkhSMVI0N
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 24, 2017
With sentiments like the above floating around, imagine you’re a writer like Entertainment Weekly’s senior writer Anthony Breznican, trying to inform the fandom and having to interview folks like Mark Hamill about the upcoming film, all without revealing spoilers.
After reading his recent posts on EW.com–a veritable smorgasbord of Star Wars stories during Thanksgiving week–I was curious as to this process, and asked Breznican:
How does a Star Wars Reporter separate himself from his fandom, especially in the enviable position of previewing an upcoming movie?
Knowledge and Passion
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to separate from the fandom,” said Breznican during an impromptu Q&A.
“It’s like being a sports broadcaster. You want someone who has knowledge and passion for the game, and the same goes for Star Wars.”
As a former sportswriter–at one time embedded with the Boston Bruins–I appreciated (and lived) Anthony’s analogy (which I’m certain was constructed for my benefit).
My love of hockey and my appreciation for the team helped and informed my writing. But as I tried to frame my reporting for the fans, I rooted for good stories.
I also hoped to use my position to make watching Boston Bruins hockey even more fun for my readers by relaying those stories in an entertaining and consistent fashion.
“Instead of removing myself from the fandom, I try to answer the questions (without spoilers) that the fans want to know,” explained Breznican, whose love, and respect, for the Saga, is apparent in all his work.
“So I ask what I want to know,” he added of his own process, “and hopefully that connects with the wider galaxy of Star Wars admirers out there.”
Breznican’s coverage certainly connected this year.
MakingStarWars.com bloggers immediately posted links whenever Anthony tweeted his stories during 2017.
The complete list of his recent articles is comprehensive. Rather than rehashing them, here are five personal takeaways from the most recent set:
- Breznican compares Porgs to Star Trek’s tribbles, and Gremlins’ Mogwai. He quotes John Boyega saying, “They’re very, very cute, but when you put them in a bunch, in holes, on the Millennium Falcon, that’s when they start to become really, really freaky.”
- No Lando! Billy Dee Williams will not reprise his most charming character in The Last Jedi. “He’s not in the film and it was never really something that came up,” Rian Johnson told Breznican. “I mean, I loved that character. It would have been fun to see him, but it’s just not something that ever really had a place in the story.”
- The interplay between Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo and Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron is a vital plot/subplot. “Sometimes you need somebody to show up and yeah, teach you a thing or two,” Dern told Breznican.
- This really isn’t going to go the way we think. Everyone has opinions about Rey and Kylo Ren, but it seems a certainty that everyone is also going to be surprised by their actions in The Last Jedi. “Anybody that’s committed to anything, at a certain point in their life… you kind of constantly question why you got into it in the first place,” said Driver to Breznican.
- Kelly Marie Tran almost quit acting before getting the part of Rose. However, she persisted: “There are so few times in life where you are passionate about anything… And I think that if you can find that, you should just hold on to it and protect it at all costs and just follow it, because it’s so rare.”
As someone who grew up with Luke Skywalker as an avatar–forever looking toward the twin suns on the horizon–the most important item to me is not necessarily a takeaway, but a query that needs an answer.
“The big question is why didn’t he respond to Leia during [The Force Awakens]?” said Hamill to Breznican. “There’s a lot of things you can’t answer until you see this movie.”
Framing the Facts
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) November 22, 2017
With so much emphasis on getting these stories right while not revealing too much of the plot, I asked about the process of creating this cadre of pieces.
“I worked on this current batch of stories on-and-off for about a month,” said Breznican. “On-and-off meaning that I often did other things in between, particularly at the start.
“First week mapping out some ideas with the editor and making interview requests,” he said. “Then another week doing all the interviews… then another approximate two weeks conducting the interviews [and] realigning the story.
“And lastly, the roll-out week in which I take all that magazine writing, dice it up and expand on it, and add a few more stories for the online presentation,” said Breznican.
Star Wars Leftovers?
And, believe it or not, the online presentation is not yet complete.
Breznican said that while he was writing, he shot more video on his Star Wars subjects, as well.
“More of those are coming next week,” he said.
That’s perfect–there’s nothing like leftovers after Thanksgiving. JB