How did you get involved with Star Wars and concept art?
I had worked with Neal Scanlan on various projects on and off between 1999 and maybe 2005. After that our careers diverged – Neal was doing more SMUFX and prosthetics jobs and I was focusing more on storyboarding and directing in commercials. I don’t think I’d actually spoken to Neal for about five years when he called me out of the blue in early June 2013 telling me he’d got Star Wars and was looking to put together a concept design team. Would I be interested? Uh…yes, I think I would. I had to do a trial week putting some ideas together for a brief on a character that would eventually become Maz to get the job and started properly on the film mid-June.
Klaatu was a male Kadas’sa’Nikto gambler who worked for Jabba the Hutt. He often repaired the crime lord’s skiffs. Klaatu also took enjoyment in Jabba’s executions by Rancor in Jabba’s Palace. He was killed aboard Jabba’s sail barge on Tatooine during the failed execution of Luke Skywalker and his companions.
How did you get involved with the Star Wars franchise?
The first time I worked on a Star Wars film was in 2001, I was living and working in Sydney at the time and was asked if I would like to join the costume props department on Ep II , Attack of the Clones, I worked on Zam Wesell’s outfit, Jango Fett’s armour, and various jewellery and head dresses for Amidala .Then, a couple of years later I was hired again to work on Ep III, Revenge of the Sith, as a part of the team who recreated Darth Vader’s outfit , and I sculpted Mon Mothma’s head dress and other items of jewellery amongst other things. In 2013, after having moved to the UK in 2005, I received a call from Neal Scanlan asking me if I would like to join his team on The Force Awakens, I had previously worked for Neal Scanlan on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, It didn’t take me long to give him a positive answer…
Marvel’s Lando Series is set prior to the events of Empire Strikes Back, and sees Lando seducing an Imperial Governor into giving him an item that he uses to pay off some debts he owes to Papa Toren. Upon arrival to pay off his debt with Toren, only a small fraction of the debt is honoured, leaving Lando in a predicament.
John Jackson Miller has provided the first official book from the new canon material. A New Dawn gives Star Wars fans an insight into the Life of Kanan Jarrus after the events of Order 66, highlighting how he began fighting the Empire, his love for women and how he met a very special woman who would have a huge impact on his life moving forward; that of course being Hera Syndulla.
As the Imperial crew of the Strikeforce investigate an uncharted planet, they are attacked, and a lone Chiss warrior infiltrates the ship before being captured. The Warrior is Mitth ‘Raw’ Nuruodo, or as he prefers to be called, Thrawn; he is brought before the Emperor where Thrawn asks for a position in the Imperial Navy in exchange for his knowledge of the unknown regions of the galaxy.
Most Wanted shines the spotlight on DJ, the scoundrel played by Benicio Del Toro in The Last Jedi, exploring what he was up to not long before Rose and Finn find him in a prison cell, in Canto Bight. The comic sees DJ weave his way through different conflicts, putting himself before anyone and sticking to his own set of rules.
Han Solo is by far one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars as well as film in general, so it comes to no surprise that the character has had several comic book runs over the years. In 2016, Marvel launched the 5 issues Solo series, focusing on the events that take place after the Death Star is destroyed when Han has returned to his smuggler roots.
Star Wars comics are great as they offer readers the chance to delve deeper into the lives of some of their favourite characters from the franchise; this is the case for Mace Windu, despite not being the strongest of the comic series’, Jedi of the Republic offers readers an insight into some of Windu’s actions during the Clone Wars.
Vader Down starts with Luke Skywalker as he finds his way to an old Jedi temple on Vrogas Vas; Doctor Aphra informs Darth Vader of Luke’s location and decides to go after the Jedi. Vader’s ship flies into three Rebel squadrons in which he attempts to wipe them all out, managing to kill the majority of them until Luke shows up causing them to both crash land.
When I read a film novelisation, I look for things that may not have featured in the film, or scenes that have been expanded on to further enhance the story; Alan Dean Fosters provides readers with some extra scenes, more character insight as well as answers several questions asked after watching the The Force Awakens.
Scout troopers, also known as biker scouts and Imperial sharpshooters, were specially trained stormtroopers of the Imperial Army’s Stormtrooper Corps. They were used by the Galactic Empire on a range of missions, which mostly involved reconnaissance. They had lighter armour than standard stormtroopers, much like their urban counterparts, patrol stormtroopers.
When writing a review for a film novelisation, I look for
things that may not have featured in the film, or scenes that have been
expanded on to further enhance the story; Alexander Freed’s second book in Star
Wars Canon “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was full of extra moments that have complemented
my views on the film.
Readers will find out the motivations behind some of the
characters actions, connective scenes that are useful with regards to
continuity, as well as interactions from the movie that are expanded upon.
Freed emotionally dives into the minds of some of the key characters
throughout, and provides further insight into some of their actions and the
resonance behind them. Jyn’s internal struggle about feeling abandoned by both
her father Galen Erso and Saw Gerrera, Cassian’s conflict as he contemplates
his orders from General Draven to kill Galen Erso, and also Mon Mothma’s
feelings about the path the Rebellion is currently on.
The book allows readers to spend more time with some of the
characters that only featured briefly in the film, take Lyra Erso for example.
During the first few scenes in Rogue One we see Lyra stand up to a group of
Death Troopers whilst aiming her gun at Orson Krennic, despite knowing she
could have run away with her daughter Jyn. It turns out that she had misjudged
Krennic, expecting him to surrender in fear. With regards to the Empire,
readers get more of an insight into how Tarkin took over the Death Star and
Krennic’s thoughts as he discovers how easily he was played by Tarkin.
As mentioned above, readers get to delve deeper inside the
head of Jyn Erso, understanding her coping mechanisms with feeling rejected
from Galen and Saw, and also how she came to trust and love the Rebel Alliance
despite her rough introduction to the cause. There are also more conversations
between Jyn and Mon Mothma that would have been great additions to the film.
A lot of the new canon book feature several interludes and
Rogue One is no different. One of the interludes reveals how Galen’s revenge on
Krennic and the Empire is nearly discovered. Supplementary information like
this is always good for a story and it adds another layer to everything viewers
see when they sit down and watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Movie novelisation’s are usually good for looking at scenes
that weren’t featured in the movie, Freed provides and intimate look at Jedha
as a whole, moments before the Death Star Strikes as well as an up close view
of Pendra Siliu’s death when Jedha is destroyed (Pendra was the little girl Jyn
saves when Saw’s Partisans attack an Imperial fleet).
conclude, Rogue One is a book that enhances the story rather than just giving
readers a like for like printed account of the film. I would consider this book
required reading as it provides a clearer and more insightful look into the
events of the film, as well as showing the moments that weren’t actually
captured on screen. For an even better experience with the book, read “Tarkin”
and “Catalyst” both written by James Luceno that give background to Tarkin’s
rise in the Empire ,as well as the beginning of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic’s
relationship and how that lead to Galen joining Krennic on his project.
Aftermath saw Temmin “Snap” Wexley, his droid companion
Bones, and his pilot mother Norra Wexley make their names in what was the first
story in the Aftermath Trilogy. Life Debt sees Norra and her group of rebels
set on a mission to locate rebel hero Han Solo, who is on his way to Kashyyyk
to help liberate the planet from under the ruling of the Empire.
Han’s first attempt didn’t go as planned, resulting with
Chewbacca being captured and the Imperial council finding itself under the
leadership of Gallius Rax, a mastermind with links to the planet of Jakku. One
of Rax’s first actions is to appoint Grand Admiral Rae Sloane as the face of
There is a deep underlying theme within the Imperial side of
the story surrounding Rax and Sloane. Sloane finds herself feeling like an
errand girl delivering Rax’s orders to the Empire, even when she doesn’t agree
with them. What Rae Sloane wants for the Empire and what Rax wants are two
completely different things which lead to Sloane taking matters into her own
The book is essentially broken down into three main stories, the search for Han Solo, the liberation of Kashyyyk, and the birth of the First Order courtesy of Gallius Rax. Despite being a great start to the trilogy, the plot for Life Debt is leaps and bounds above Aftermath’s packed full with humour, heartbreak, violence, romance and mystery; things that readers expect from a Star Wars story.
With regards to the original characters from Aftermath,
Chuck Wendig doesn’t waste any time giving readers a clear picture of where
Norra Wexley and her group of ragtag Rebels are after the conclusion of
Aftermath. The group find themselves on a crusade hunting down Imperial war
criminals and bringing them to justice for their crimes before being tasked
with the search of Han Solo.
The introduction of characters from the Original Trilogy
added another robust layer to the story with Han and Leia anchoring the story for
the heroes whilst Rax and Sloane do the same for the Empire. In parts Leia
seems vulnerable; her husband is missing, the New Republic is immovable and she
is connecting to her unborn child with the force. She also sees her personality
clashing with Mon Mothma because of her idealist approach to the world and
believes in doing good for every inhabitant of the galaxy, whereas Mothma has a
realist approach to her methods.
“We argue, about whether
it is the time to build up military or to dampen its effect. And all the while
we forget that we have the privilege of arguing from comfortable chairs many
parsecs away. We argue about what’s prudent or what’s practical while people
suffer. Do you know what people want to see from the New Republic? Do you,
truly? They want us to be heroes. – Princess Leia’s argument against Mon
Han solo’s relationship with Chewbacca is captured beautifully in Life Debt. In one of the interludes from Aftermath, the pair is preparing to travel to Kashyyyk with intentions of liberating Chewie’s home planet from under the clasp of the Empire, leading to the Wookiee being captured. Han’s loyalty to Chewbacca is evident as he decides to leave his wife and unborn child as well as resigning his commission with the New Republic in order to locate his friend.
Similarly to Aftermath, Life Debt features interludes that
give a wider perception of the galaxy. It seems as if the Empire has been
dragged down immensely after its defeat during the Battle of Endor, offshoots
of the empire are resorting to suicidal tactics against the New Republic, an
Imperial Super Star Destroyer finds itself being hijacked by pirates and the
entire fleet abandons its post on Ryloth. Maz Kanata features in an interlude
where she is enforcing laws in her Takodano castle, and law and order has
returned to Tatooine after the demise of crime lord Jabba the Hutt and his
Wendig’s second entry to the Aftermath Trilogy promised
higher intensity leading up to the events of The Force Awakens and it certainly
delivered with an engaging plot, a strong, developing chemistry between
Aftermath’s original characters as well as the additions from the original
trilogy. There are also a lot of details provided to help fill the gaps between
Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Sagwa was a Wookiee from the inland tree city of Rwookrrorro on the planet Kashyyyk. During the Imperial Era he attempted to defend his fellow Wookiees from Imperial patrols, but was imprisoned and forced to work in the spice mines of Kessel as a slave. He wore an electro-charged slaving collar and had his shaggy arms bound by heavy shackles. Years of toil took their toll on his body, leaving his brown fur balding due to illness, though he continued to selflessly spare weaker slaves from the most brutal mining duties.
Sagwa was among the slaves who participated in the uprising instigated by L3-37, and was freed by Chewbacca after the Wookiee attacked Sagwa’s guards. The two Wookiees fought alongside each other, and Sagwa helped Chewbacca and Han Solo escape the mines with a stash of unrefined coaxium. Once outside, Sagwa fought off Pyke sentinels and helped Chewbacca load the coaxium into smuggling compartments aboard the Millennium Falcon. He bid farewell to Chewbacca before following Tak and other escaped prisoners.
How did you get the role of Sagwa in Solo: A Star Wars Story?
I signed up with Uni-Versal Extras and two weeks later I got invited for an audition. I had a few auditions like movement, body screening and measurements afterwards. I was auditioned by Paul Kasey, a highly skilled analyst and performer of creature behaviour. Three months later I got the call to confirm my role for Sagwa.
What was the
costume fitting process like?
The fitting started shortly after the call. I was
called in regularly for costume fitting to get the desired shape. I’m glad I had the experience of going
through the process of creating a Wookiee costume. Seeing other creatures come to life was
inspiring. It was fascinating to watch them build the creatures we see in Star
Wars it is something to admire.
How would you
describe your time working on the mining planet of Kessel?
It was an extremely
realistic experience. So many details, many talented people gathered together,
creatures around, the props, the mines, the pressure during the raid felt just
like a real escape because the explosions and the wave of so many people running,
fighting and screaming. I actually felt like I was on a different planet in a
real war. I feel blessed to of had the opportunity to experience a Star Wars
movie from both sides of the camera. I understand why Star Wars is one of the
most appreciated franchises in the movie industry.
What was it like
filming in the Wookiee costume?
At first, I didn’t know what to expect because it was my
first experience in a creature costume. I relied on the fact that I have my
sports background and that helped me regarding physical condition. I learned
quickly that a Wookiee costume is a pretty tough one. Thanks to a great team, especially to Fiona
Barnes, Natalie Hapeshis the make-up lady and Alan Murphy did a great job
looking after me.
appearances at several comic conventions since the film’s release, how would
you describe those experiences?
Everything was new for me regarding comic conventions and I tried to connect with the fans as much as possible. I had not previously followed Star Wars so that was lot for me to learn. I’ve learned that fans are the ones who matter. They know so many details about this franchise and I respect their passion for Star Wars. I was pleased to have the chance to meet them.
How was it
working alongside fellow Wookiee Joonas Suotamo?
First time arriving on set for shootings, I remember
saying to myself,” that’s the famous Chewbacca played by Joonas” I never
thought I will have this opportunity. Joonas is a great guy, he is always smiling,
and he is friendly, he is Chewbacca. I didn’t have the chance to spend a lot of
time with him, but he emanates a warm and approachable personality. Overall, I
think he is a great guy.
How does your
experience in Star Wars compare to other projects you have worked on in the
I had never
worked on any movie project before. This was my first acting experience.
What are some of
your fondest memories from your time working on the film?
To be part of
such a fantastic project with such amazing people around me. I’ve made a few
new friends. I enjoyed the time spent
with the other three Wookiees’. It was great to be part of the famous
Millennium Falcon experience. I always
wished to be in movies, but I never thought I would have the opportunity of
this magnitude so quickly, and on top of that to be partly directed by Ron
Howard as well.
meeting Woody Harrelson was something special, because I used his character
from “White men can’t jump” during my basketball career, as motivation while
working on my jumping skills. I love this movie because of him. Overall
everything was just beautiful, and I would like to thank the production for
entrusting me with the role of Sagwa. It was such a wonderful experience.
Has Star Wars
always been a part of your life, if so, what are some of your favourite things
about the franchise?
followed Star Wars as a fan, but I always admired the creativity of the diverse
worlds, creatures and characters from Star Wars movies. It was so different compared to any other
movies I’ve seen. I’m proud to say that I have been involved in a Star Wars
project and it is now part of my life.
Do you have any
favourite characters from the movies, if so, who are they and why?
I remember I
saw A New Hope for the first time when I was around 14, and Darth Vader was the character I liked because of his
powerful voice and appearance. I also
like Han Solo because of his sarcasm, but also because Harrison Ford is among
my favourite actors.
When you were given the role of Sagwa, were you given any
info to accommodate this?
Yes, I had some training with the
stunt, VFX and creature teams over a period of time.
Ahsoka Tano was introduced to the Star Wars Universe in 2008 where she instantly became one of the shows most popular characters, defying all expectations and becoming a voice for fans across the globe.
The Togrutan went from being the padawan of Anakin Skywalker to leaving the Jedi order and renouncing her ties to the order in order to follow her own path after becoming confused and disconnected to the order.
In 2014, Star Wars Rebels hit TV screens and fans were thrilled to see several appearances from Ahsoka, or as she is now known ‘Fulcrum’ an agent now working for the Rebel Alliance. What fans wanted to know next was, what happened to her in between the events of The Clone Wars and Rebels? E.K Johnston’s book Ahsoka answers this question.
Star Wars fans were itching for more of Ahsoka after the sudden end of the Clone Wars, given that Lucasfilm had a huge amount of untold stories to tell, some made there way into this book. It definitely seems like a story for fans who are already familiar with the character, so if you aren’t familiar with Ahsoka, I would definitely encourage you to watch The Clone Wars and Rebels beforehand.
The story is set a year after Order 66, the majority of clones are being replaced by stormtroopers, and Ahsoka has made the choice to live under the alias of “Ashla” working as a mechanic on the outer rim planet of Thabeska. She is later forced to leave Thabeska, resulting in Ahsoka travelling to the agricultural moon of Raada, a large producer of food to the galaxy.
Raada’s food production gains attention from the Empire who need resources for their command of the galaxy, in particular a plant that will produce food quickly for the Empire. Unfortunately, the plant being looked for could prove to be detrimental to the planets soils as it’s extremely destructive.
The Empire takes matters into their hands by employing a garrison on the planet in which they use to takeover the planets resources. As a result of the Empire’s actions, Ahsoka and her new group of friends team up to help prevent the takeover.
This proves to be harder than Ahsoka would like as she struggles to contain the force, gaining attention from both the Empire and the Rebellion. Bail Organa takes a particular interest in Ahsoka and towards the end of the book, the pair discuss plans to build an intelligence network in which Ahsoka will lead under the name of Fulcrum.
Ahsoka also gains interest from an Inquisitor known as the Sixth Brother, who has been sent to investigate Ahsoka as she has been identified as a force user. Ahsoka spends the majority of the story in survival mode, and readers explore the depths of this as well as understanding how she learnt to feel herself again and to have hope after suffering loss across the spectrum since leaving the Jedi Order.
E.K Johnston must have felt a lot of pressure coming into this project, especially considering how popular Ahsoka is and how desperate fans are for more content surrounding the character. I can honestly say that she does not disappoint, not only continuing the story, but also expanding on it and taking fans deeper into Ahsoka’s story. The book delves into aspects of action, politics, friendship and drama with an emotional core that will make readers love the character even more than before.
To crack heavily armoured targets, the Resistance called upon two squadrons of MG-100 StarFortress bombers laden with powerful proton bombs. The bombers were committed to another mission during the raid on Starkiller Base, but rushed back to D’Qar for the base’s evacuation. Escorted by swift starfighters, Cobalt Squadron attacked the initial wave of First Order warships to buy time for Leia Organa’s freedom fighters to escape. All of the bombers were lost, along with their crews, in this desperate mission.
Aftermath is the first in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars trilogy, and takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi. The story begins in Coruscant as people gather to pull down the statue of Emperor Palpatine, the man responsible for enslaving the galaxy who had recently been killed during the Battle of Endor.