Star Wars: The Last Jedi will feature a "massive" sequence in the casino at Canto Bight, according to actor Mark Hamill. Like all the previous installments in the franchise, Episode VIII continues the grand tradition of introducing new locations to the ever-expanding galaxy far, far away. Besides the planet Crait, the most notable is Canto Bight, which has been described by writer/director Rian Johnson as a playground for the universe's elite. It is essentially the inverse of the Mos Eisley cantina, populated by the rich and famous who are so well off, any major war has little-to-no effect on their lifestyles. Finn and Rose Tico embark on a journey there while on a mission for the Resistance, crossing paths with codebreaker DJ and possibly Maz Kanata.
Fans have gotten the briefest of teases of Canto Bight in Last Jedi marketing thanks to a handful of still images and clips from D23's behind-the-scenes sizzle reel. While audiences will need to wait until December to get the full picture, it's clear from these glimpses the casino scenes were a colossal undertaking for Johnson - arguably some of the grandest in scope Star Wars has ever seen. Hamill, who became a big fan of his Episode VIII director through the experience, was highly impressed with the way Johnson handled sequences of such magnitude.
In an interview with the official Star Wars website, Hamill touched on the sheer scale of The Last Jedi's production design, admitting that even an experienced thespian as himself was taken aback by what the team had crafted:
"On something like The Last Jedi, it’s such a massive production. The complexity of it is just mind-boggling to me, and how [director] Rian Johnson stays so even-tempered and amiable. I never saw him lose his temper, I never heard him curse or humiliate someone. You know, I’ve had directors that dress people down in front of the whole crew. I was so lucky to be able to have his guidance. Everyone says, “Oh, it must be so fun coming back to Star Wars.” Yeah, it’s fun but it’s also hugely intimidating and bordering on terrifying, because it’s just almost too high profile for comfort. Brigsby Bear is a little film about little people with big ideas. It’s set in the suburbs. I mean, you can relate to it. With something like this, it’s just a massive fantasy film.
I was on one set, and I’m not giving anything away because Rian has already talked about a casino sequence. The set, with 150 actors all dressed in prosthetics and puppetry and robots — that set alone could probably easily have financed 100 Brigsby Bears. It was easily one of the most opulent sets I’ve ever been on. I’m fascinated not by just the scenes I’m in. When I had free time I would go and observe all these different actors and all these different scenes. The amount of talent that just is unrecognized… That’s why the credits run for an hour and a half. Because it takes thousands of people to successfully mount an epic of this size."
Though Hamill is a veteran of the Star Wars movies, most of his time with the franchise was during the making of the original trilogy, which was released from 1977-1983. While the three films revolutionized the industry and were blockbuster successes, they weren't nearly on the same scale as tentpoles released in the modern age. Due to the restrictions of the era, George Lucas was somewhat limited with what he could achieve (even when the budgets expanded), so it isn't surprising Hamill feels this way. Times have definitely changed, and Star Wars is one of the few properties in Hollywood that can secure unlimited resources in order to film whatever the director wants. Lucasfilm clearly spares no expense, and viewers have come to expect top-of-the-line production values in the final picture. "Bigger" doesn't always equal "better," but some would feel disappointed if a new Star Wars felt small in scope compared to similar titles.
It's interesting Hamill mentioned he was on the Canto Bight set, as some may interpret his comments as an indication Luke ends up at the casino at some point. With so little information about the narrative to go off of, it's difficult to say with any certainty at this point in time. Of course, Star Wars films typically use multiple sound stages at studios, so perhaps Hamill was filming scenes that take place on a different planet and simply wanted to check out what else Johnson was working on. Time will tell, but The Last Jedi is shaping up to be unlike anything viewers have seen from the galaxy before.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019