Good news, everyone! JJ Abrams killed Jar Jar Binks (probably). Also, Vanity Fair has Star Wars: The Force Awakens set pics with lots of new information, including what’s behind the main villain’s mask, a brand new space pirate, and much, much more.

Vanity Fair brought photographer Annie Leibovitz to set to photograph The Resistance (the new name for the Rebels) and the First Order (the new name for the Empire)

First up is the look of Kylo Ren, sans mask. And what’s under the mask? Girls’ Adam Driver! It’s been a long-held suspicion that Driver was cast as the Episode VII villain, and now we have confirmation. We’ve got tons of shots of Driver’s costume and mask over at our gallery of Episode VII costumes that were on display during Celebration, if you want to compare and contrast. Also looks like we now know who will be holding the crossbar lightsaber: Driver.


Not much else was spilled about Driver’s new role, but there was plenty of information about Lupita Nyong’o and her character Maz Kanata. For one, she will be entirely CGI (as you can see from the below images of Nyong’o in performance capture makeup).

Images via Vanity behind-the-scenes video.


Also, her character Maz Kanata will have her own castle and a whole gaggle of wondrous-looking aliens and droids to lord over, because Kanata is a SPACE PIRATE.

“Galactic travelers, smugglers, and other assorted riffraff fill the main hall of pirate Maz Kanata’s castle.”

Now behold Maz’s space pirate pals in this new image:


It’s all very Jabba’s castle, isn’t it? And in a good way (we hope). Fingers crossed this is one of the strong female roles LucasFilm promised was definitely happening after the first cast picture revealed only one new female character (main character Daisy Ridley, playing Rey). Plus look at all these wonderful beings and creatures. Ever though this Maz Kanta character is going to be CG things have come a long way from the entirely CGI music video moment that happened in the Return of the Jedi re-release.

And while we’re on the topic of practical effects, we got an early look at Vanity Fair’s cover story from Bruce Handy and had to share two bits of good news. First, the use of real life puppets and creatures was so important to director JJ Abrams that he refused to polish some of his work in post because he WANTED it to look “preposterous.” Good.

One scene features an alien creature that abruptly pops up out of the desert landscape with glowing, flashlight eyes that make it look like a distant cousin to the Jawas from the original Star Wars—Abrams calls it “a classic, old-school seesaw puppet. We just buried it in the sand, and Neal Scanlan, the creature guy, pushed down on one side and the thing came up on the other side.” In an effects session, the scene got a big laugh and some suggestions for digital polishing, but Abrams was wary, saying, “It’s so old-school and crazy. We could improve this thing, but at some point do we lose the wonderful preposterousness?”


And two, Jar Jar Binks may be dead:

During an effects review, while watching a sequence with spaceships flying low over a desert planet, J. J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens, asks to pause the scene, and with a light pen draws a little squiggle on a sand dune. “I have a thought about putting Jar Jar Binks’s bones in the desert there,” Abrams says, to much laughter. “I’m serious! Only three people will notice, but they’ll love it.”



The June issue of Vanity Fair will pop up on newsstands on May 7th (in New York and Los Angeles) and nationally on May 12th. It will also be available online on the 7th, but until then there’s even a whole behind-the-scenes video over at Vanity to tide you over.

Update: the video is now on YouTube so here you go!


Click here to view this embed.