Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII is now more than halfway through filming and for the most part, all’s been relatively quiet on the ever-churning rumor mill. Since production began there’s been some speculation about Laura Dern’s mystery character and the supposed identity of the new “celebrity comic relief” stormtrooper, but that’s about the extent of what’s come out so far. Save for the occasional set photo, fans browsing for clues online are largely coming up empty, a testament to Lucasfilm’s ability to keep details of their productions secret.

Still, there’s plenty of time between now and Star Wars 8‘s December 2017 premiere, meaning the tide could change soon. Even with security locking down the sets so no wandering eyes can snap pictures, it’s difficult to keep tabs on everybody with a camera and sometimes there’s nothing the studio can do to prevent a leak from getting out. The plot of Episode VIII remains heavily under wraps, but those who love speculating just got some new material to fawn over, thanks to those at Belfast International Airport in Ireland.

Franchise stars Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, and Adam Driver have all landed in the country with Johnson, presumably for work purposes. Getty (via Making Star Wars) posted a gallery of images. Hamill, always with a strong sense of humor, is making himself readily available for photographs, while the youngsters (unsuccessfully) try to remain inconspicuous with sunglasses and hoodies. When you’re involved with the biggest film franchise of all-time, people are going to recognize you no matter what you’re wearing, it seems.

star wars 8 mark hamill luke Star Wars 8: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, & Adam Driver Arrive In Ireland


Normally, the “development” of actors arriving at a film location wouldn’t be newsworthy at all, but there are some interesting implications with these specific three all together in Ireland. In the Star Wars saga, the country is used for the planet Ahch-To, which is where Rey finds Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams shot that scene at Skellig Michael Island, but the Episode VIII team is using other parts of Ireland to showcase more of the world. Obviously, nobody can confirm what Johnson is shooting here, but primary assumption here is that Kylo Ren will have scenes with Rey and Luke on Ahch-To, setting the stage for a battle between three highly-powered Force users.

Honestly, this wouldn’t be entirely surprising. Kylo’s primary motivation in Episode VII (before “reconnecting” with his father Han Solo) was to discover Luke’s location and kill his uncle. It stands reason to believe that he would wish to continue that pursuit, especially after Rey bested him in their first lightsaber duel. The former Ben Solo is going to be on a quest for revenge in Episode VIII, apparently leading him straight to Ahch-To in direct contact with his two greatest foes. How Kylo learns about the planet remains to be seen, but The Force Awakens showed his torture methods are effective. Perhaps he captured a member of the Resistance (Leia?) and pried the information from them. Fans will just have to wait and see.

Regardless of the manner in which Kylo Ren gets to Ahch-To, there’s no denying that many would be looking forward to a scene featuring Kylo, Rey, and Luke. The number of personal conflicts between the three could yield some compelling drama, and there’s the possibility for some shocking revelations. The Force Awakens novelization suggested that Kylo Ren recognized Rey during their encounter on Starkiller base, and the scavenger’s parentage is a topic expected to be covered in Episode VIII. So much of this trio’s backstory has been held back, presumably for a future film, and it looks like it’s all coming to a head in an exciting way.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Source: Making Star Wars