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Everything We Know About Star Wars: Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker So Far

Prepare for the epic conclusion of the Skywalker saga.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

It feels like a long time ago that we were last in a galaxy far, far away, but don't worry: we're barely a month away from heading back. The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker release date is December 20, 2019 (and a day earlier over in the United Kingdom). 

You'll have to wait at least that long to watch the whole film, but you don't have to wait that long to get hyped out of your mind and devour every available detail about this latest installment of our favorite interstellar saga. That's why we've put everything that we know about Star Wars: Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker (so far) into one sacred Jedi text, from cast news to trailers and plot leaks. Read on for the Rise of Skywalker news you're looking for!

Oh, and one more thing: we're assuming here that you've seen the other Star Wars flicks, and will not be worrying about spoilers. If you somehow still haven't seen any of the films in the main Star Wars series, you might want to sit this one out until you're caught up.

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Who is in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Cast? 

The Rise of Skywalker is the final installment of J.J. Abrams' sequel trilogy, as well as the ninth and final film in the main nine-episode Skywalker saga that kicked off with the original Star Wars in 1977 (or with Episode I, depending on your Star Wars movie order beliefs). So you can expect to see all of the big characters from 2015's The Force Awakens and 2017's The Last Jedi, plus some old favorites from the original trilogy.

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Daisy Ridley will be back as Rey. Adam Driver will return as Kylo Ren. Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, John Boyega's Finn, and Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico will all be back, too.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will be back as well. Luke died in The Last Jedi, but death has never been a real obstacle to Jedi Knights looking for screen time; presumably, Luke pops in as a Force ghost or in a flashback in this new film.

Beloved actress Carrie Fisher, who played General (née princess) Leia Organa, passed away suddenly in December of 2016. J.J. Abrams is on record as saying that Leia will appear in The Rise of Skywalker and that the film will use existing footage of Fisher—not special effects of the sort that brought back a younger Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin (originally played by the late Peter Cushing) for Star Wars: Rogue One—to make that happen.

There's more: Ian McDiarmid is back as Emperor Palpatine (more on that later) and Billy Dee Williams will appear in the film as Lando Calrissian. Neither have yet appeared in Abrams' sequel trilogy, and Palpatine was—until recently—presumed dead after the events of Return of the Jedi.

C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) are back, too.

Also in the film are Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, and The Lord of the Rings' Dominic Monaghan. Richard E. Grant will play bad guy Allegiant General Pryde and Keri Russell will play a "masked scoundrel" named Zorri Bliss. Ackie will play "Jannah," a character that she has hinted could be Lando's daughter. As for Monaghan, his role remains a secret.

Allegedly not in the film is Matt Smith, who denied rumors that he'd make an appearance.

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The First Rise of Skywalker Trailer Breakdown from D23

The end of the Skywalker era

The first Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker trailer debuted April 12th. The teaser opens with a shot of Rey on a desert planet, likely a new planet Vanity Fair reported is called Pasana, pulling off an impressive Force feat in which she uses her own body as a projectile to attack a First Order TIE fighter. 

As we watch her calmly await the arrival of her target, we hear a voiceover from Luke intoning "We've passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight." From the first shot of the trailer, the theme of the movie is clear: Rise of Skywalker is about concluding the Skywalker saga once and for all, while honoring what came before.

Next, we see a shot of Kylo Ren fighting in a snowy forest, then mending the helmet he smashed in anger in The Last Jedi. Next, we see Lando piloting the Millennium Falcon. This is followed by footage of Rey, C-3PO, and Finn riding what seems like a speeder in the midst of a battle on a desert planet (again, presumably Pasana). 

We then see hands cleaning off one of the medals awarded to Luke and Han by Leia following the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope, and a shot of Leia and Rey embracing while Rey cries.

An enduring old enemy

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The final shot of the first Rise of Skywalker teaser is the most shocking: it concludes with footage of Rey, Finn, Poe, 3P0, and Chewie overlooking the remnants of Death Star II. Then, a voiceover from Luke intones "We'll always be with you. No one's ever really gone," followed by a dark screen and the distinctive, maniacal cackle of Emperor Palpatine. 

Rise of Skywalker Trailer 2 Breakdown

Disney's bi-annual expo D23 ran from August 23rd through August 26th, 2019, and was packed with exciting Star Wars announcements—including a Rise of Skywalker trailer. The new trailer opens with the same Luke voiceover from the original trailer. This time, it plays over a montage of the most iconic footage from all previous Skywalker films. Interestingly, the footage plays in order of release date, rather than series order, with the prequel movie clips following clips from the original trilogy. 

New Planets, and Old

The first brand-new footage shows Rey, Finn, Poe, 3PO, and Chewie arriving at what looks like a market or celebration on Pasana. We then see a brief shot of Leia, followed by footage of a Resistance fleet, contrasted against a sky dotted with countless Star Destroyers. As io9 points out, the design of these Star Destroyers hints at what may be a major plot point in Rise of Skywalker: rather than being of First Order design, these Star Destroyers are old-school Imperial models. Finn and new character Jannah (Naomi Ackie) are then seen looking at something in terror—possibly the many Star Destroyers—before the trailer cuts away to a shot of a red-eyed 3P0. 

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We then see back-to-back juxtaposed shots of Rey and Kylo. Rey is on a Forest Planet (possibly Endor? Possibly Yavin?) practicing with her blue lightsaber, while Kylo walks with his red lightsaber through a dark cloud. Finally, we see them meet for battle on the ruins of the Death Star II, as the voice of Palpatine warns "your journey nears its end." 

Dark Rey

The trailer then cuts to the last, and most shocking shot—Rey wearing a black cowl and wielding a dual-bladed red lightsaber of the sort typically used by Sith, most notoriously Sith Lord Darth Maul. The Star Wars theme swells, and the trailer closes with a refrain from John Williams' "Rey's Theme," which was first introduced in The Force Awakens. The effect is haunting. 

What happens inThe Rise of Skywalker? Fan theories, potential spoilers, and more!

star wars rise of skywalker
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  • Rey and Kylo Ren battle on Kef Bir's Death Star wreckage. 

    Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

The folks behind The Rise of Skywalker have been awfully cagey about the content of the film, which is understandable given the conclusion of the Skywalker saga is a historic cinema event. But here's what we do know.

We know that, originally, The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to put a spotlight on Leia in much the same way that The Force Awakens had a big role for Han Solo and The Last Jedi showcased Luke Skywalker's story. But it's hard to say how effectively that can be done following Carrie Fisher's death. Again, Abrams is using archival footage to keep Fisher in the film, but that has obvious limitations. Still, Oscar Isaac is on record as saying the story deals with Leia's perspective "quite a bit." It's also worth noting that the Leia focus was confirmed before 'creative differences' got director Colin Trevorrow, the original Episode 9 director, booted from the project in favor of Abrams.

Another thing we know about The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey’s mysterious past will play a role. The big question that loomed after The Force Awakens—Who are Rey's parents?—appeared to have been answered by The Last Jedi. However, Abrams seems intent on retconning the "nobodies" answer given in Rian Johnson's film, and Daisy Ridley has gone on record saying that " the question will be answered."

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There are lots of reasons to expect the three main characters of this new trilogy—Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron—to stick together for a good chunk of The Rise of Skywalker. Oscar Isaac has mentioned that he spent more time with John Boyega filming this latest installment. Boyega has suggested that Finn and Rey will be back together in this film. Even J.J. Abrams has spilled some details on this front, calling the film "an adventure the group goes on together." The gang was all together at the end of The Last Jedi, too, but don't expect the new film to pick up exactly where the last one left off. Abrams and others have acknowledged that there's a time gap between the films, though he wouldn't say how long that gap was. It makes sense that there'd be some time passing off-screen before this new film kicks off, given that the Resistance looked pretty darn shattered at the close of the last film. Maybe the time gap is just what the Resistance needs in order to put together a new force and give Star Wars an epic ending.

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star wars rise of skywalker
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  • Red-eyed C-3P0. 

    Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Switching Sides and Rey's Journey

The D23 trailer hints that we'll see 'dark C-3P0' at some point, either because everyone's favorite protocol droid has been re-programmed for evil purposes, or because the shot of a red-eyed droid actually depicts a totally different protocol droid. As io9 points out, the design of the Star Destroyers in the D23 trailer also indicates that some of the film will focus on the results of Palpatine secreting Imperial ships in the remote Unknown Regions prior to the Battle of Yavin.

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But will we see Dark Rey? It's true the latest trailer features her wearing some extremely Sith-like clothes and wielding a red lightsaber. However, it's also extremely likely that the footage in the trailer is from a vision or dream sequence. 

Finally, we know that the plot of this final film ties back somehow not just to Rey’s story, but to the storylines of the original trilogy and prequels. We heard the Emperor’s iconic evil laugh in the first Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker trailer. The Rise of Skywalker trailer also featured a voiceover from Luke reminding us that “nobody is ever really gone.”   

Clues from Plot Leaks

Additionally, we learned even more things from the final Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker trailer in late October (more on that in a moment), as well as from announcements and leaks.

What sort of things? Well, Disney has confirmed a new planet — or a new celestial body, anyway. Kef Bir is an ocean moon. It’s also apparently where some big chunks of the the second Death Star ended up after the super-weapon was blown up in Return of the Jedi. The explosion in Return of the Jedi looked pretty definitive, but leaks suggest that the death star wreckage seen in the teaser trailers is from that same Death Star, and that more bits of Death Star II form the “wall” that we’ve seen Rey and Kylo running around on in the clips of Kef Bir featured in the trailers.

What happens in the Rise of Skywalker final trailer? Palpatine, Planets, and a Goodbye from C-3P0

With new trailers come new revelations; what we know about Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is always changing. We learned some exciting new things when the latest and greatest (and also, unfortunately, final) trailer dropped during Monday Night Football in late October.

With that said, we didn’t learn too much. Nothing in the new trailer is quite as mind-blowing as the surprise appearance of original-trilogy nemesis Emperor Palpatine. This new trailer seemed squarely aimed at a mainstream audience, rather than at the geeks who like to analyze this sort of thing frame by frame. But that won’t stop us! If we look closely enough, we’ll find plenty to get excited about. Here’s what we learned from the footage in the trailer, included both the new clips and stuff we’d seen in prior trailers.

Rey’s emotional stakes

Plenty of characters had voice-overs in the latest Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker trailer, but no character’s dialogue was as powerful as Rey’s. "People keep telling me they know me," Rey says in a voice-over in the new trailer. "No one does." The whole resistance crew is back, but it's clear from this trailer that Rey will be at the center of this film, both logistically and emotionally. Given that Rey was front in center in The Force Awakens and that her interactions with Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren were the emotional and cinematic high points of The Last Jedi, this makes perfect sense. Since we know that The Last Jedi won’t have the last say on Rey’s parentage, it’s fair to wonder if what characters know — or don’t know — about Rey is connected to her heritage in some way.

Palpatine's presence in the last trailer seemed to promise that the three Star Wars trilogies would be drawn closer together in this final installment. Palpatine’s new voiceover in the October trailer seems to confirm that. "Long have I waited," Palpatine says, "and now your coming together is your undoing." That seems to suggest that Palpatine hasn't merely been surviving this whole time; something about what happens next is a part of his plan, one that has been in the works since his apprentice Darth Vader chucked him down a reactor shaft in 1983's Return of the Jedi.

There are lots of cool settings in this trailer, too. We've seen some of them before, but not all of them.

There is footage of forested areas in this trailer, including the opening shot of Rey running. Could it be the forest moon of Endor, last seen in Return of the Jedi? Not necessarily (remember, the desert planet in trailers for The Force Awakens turned out to be not Tatooine, but a look-alike planet called Jakku). But the helmet that Rey drops sure looks a lot like ones that the rebels wore on Endor in Return of the Jedi, and we already know that the wreckage of Death Star II factors into this story somehow. Consider Endor a good bet to return in Rise of Skywalker.

This trailer also shows Rey inside the wreckage of some kind of spaceship. Perhaps this scene is intended as a callback to Rey's scavenging trip into a downed Star Destroyer in The Force Awakens. Is this part of the Death Star II wreckage? An old rebel craft? Something else? And what does this moment mean for the plot?

We also see the interior of a resistance base. It's not clear where this base is, but there is a shot of a pyramid that looks a whole lot like the ones from Yavin 4 in the original Star Wars, plus other exterior shots featuring resistance fighters in a forest setting. Could the base be on Yavin 4? Is the first Death Star in this movie, too? This could just be more of Endor, but you never know. If one Death Star is back, why not both?

Perhaps the coolest location is one we’ve seen before: A stormy ocean divided by a man-made “wall” with a big ol' spherical gun turret. Thanks to a mix of announcements and leaks, we know exactly where this is: It’s the ocean moon of Kef Bir, where some big chunks of the second Death Star have come to rest.

What about the spooky-looking icy planet? Well, that’s like to be Kijimi, where Zorri Bliss is from, but we can’t say for sure.

This new trailer also includes an interior shot of an evil-looking throne that just so happens to look like production sketches of the Emperor's throne done way back in 1981.

Speaking of thrones, interior of a destroyed room that we see late in the trailer looks like it could be the wreckage of the Emperor's throne room in the second Death Star. Given that leaks have confirmed Death Star II wreckage elsewhere, this is probably a good bet.

Rey and Kylo Ren, reunited?

The most intriguing moment of the whole trailer may be the brief moment at 1:50, where we see Rey and Kylo Ren slashing something — the same something — with their lightsabers. And is that Darth Vader's helmet that comes tumbling down when they do?.

A heartfelt goodbye

The most emotional moment of the new trailer? That would have to be C-3PO’s “last look” at his friends. Is C-3PO a goner? That would be a pretty big thing to spoil in a trailer, but you never know. Regardless, when the credits roll on Rise of the Skywalker this December 20th, Star Wars fans — much like 3P0 — will be bidding goodbye to friends whose adventures we've enjoyed for decades. 

Featured still from "The Rise of Skywalker" via Lucasfilm