Darth who? Read on...
It's nearly time! The Force Awakens – the new Star Wars film - is released THIS WEEK, and it's officially taking over absolutely everything everywhere. Sorry, what’s that? You don’t know what the Death Star is? Read on, friend, we’ll have you clued up and ready to watch episode 7 without even having to watch the first six films…
So what happened in episodes 1-6?
You can forget about episodes 1-3 – that’s the prequels with Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman that were released in the late Nineties – but we highly recommend catching up on episodes 4-6 (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) if you’ve never seen them. They work perfectly well as a stand-alone series and have dated brilliantly when you consider that the first one was released way back in 1977. It’s worth watching them just because Harrison Ford is totally swoon-worthy in them if nothing else. And you really don’t need to like sci-fi in general to enjoy them. Promise.
If you can’t be bothered and just want to rock up at the cinema in December with a vague idea of what’s going on though, here’s a (very) quick synopsis:
Luke Skywalker (the one who isn’t Harrison Ford) trains to be a Jedi Knight in order to fight the dark forces of the Empire, led by evil Darth Vader (the guy with asthma in the black mask). On the way, he makes friends with two robots, a massive hairy thing called Chewbacca, Han Solo (the one that IS Harrison Ford), a tiny green muppet (not Kermit but Yoda) and a beautiful woman called Leia, who he doesn’t find out is his sister until after he’s developed a massive crush on her (and kissed her). He defeats his father and they all live happily ever after with a load of teddy bears.
That’s basically the gist of it.
Why is Star Wars 7 such a big deal when the last three weren’t?
Episodes 1-3 were slated by many Star Wars fans, but episode 7 has them practically peeing their pants with excitement. Why? Well, J.J. Abrams has already proved that he’s a sensitive director when it comes to sci-fi franchises (his Star Trek movies have been really well received by fans), so that’s a good start. The trailer looks AH-MAZING (scroll to the bottom of this article to watch that). And not only has original Star Wars creator George Lucas managed to persuade all of the main actors from the first three films (that's actually episodes 4-6. Keep up!) to come back, but the new cast is pretty damn exciting, too. Speaking of which…
Who Is The Cast Of The Force Awakens?
The Ones Even Non-Star Wars Fans Will Recognise
WHO: Luptia Nyong’o
PLAYS: Maz Kanata
YOU’LL KNOW HER FROM: Lupita won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 2014 for her performance in 12 Years A Slave and for always looking incredible on the red carpet.
WHO: Gwendoline Christie
PLAYS: Captain Phasma, the chrome Stormtrooper
YOU’LL KNOW HER FROM: Even if you’ve never watched Game of Thrones, you’d have been hard pushed to have missed statuesque Ms Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth in the hit TV show. She’s also starring in the final instalment of The Hunger Games films.
WHO: Andy Serkis
PLAYS: Supreme Leader Snoke
YOU’LL KNOW HIM FROM: You might not realise how many films you’ve seen Andy Serkis in; he plays Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and Caeser the chimpanzee in The Planet of the Apes. You won’t see his face in this film either, but you’re guaranteed an amazing performance.
WHO: Domhnall Gleeson
PLAYS: General Hux
YOU’LL KNOW HIM FROM: He played the oldest Weasley child in Harry Potter (Ron’s big brother) but you might have caught him more recently in the brilliant film Ex Machina with Alicia Vikander.
WHO: Oscar Isaac
PLAYS: Poe Dameron
YOU’LL KNOW HIM FROM: He starred in the Coen Brothers’ movie Inside Llewyn Davis and in Ex Machina with Dohmnall Gleeson.
WHO: Adam Driver
PLAYS: Kylo Ren
YOU’LL KNOW HIM FROM: Adam was thrust into the limelight when he was cast as Lena Dunham’s love interest in the hit series Girls in 2012.
The New Faces
WHO: Daisy Ridley
WHY SHE’S ONE TO WATCH: There’s no doubt that this is her breakout film and you’re very unlikely to have seen her in anything before, but with that face – which has an uncanny resemblance to both Princesses Leia and Padme Amidala (her possible fictional mother and grandmother) – rumours are rife that she’s part of the Solo family. Which means she’s been cast in a REALLY important role.
WHO: John Boyega
WHY HE’S ONE TO WATCH: You may recognise this Peckham-born actor from the indie film Attack The Block, but judging from his prominence in the Star Wars trailer, his career will skyrocket after this role.
WHO: Mark Hamill
PLAYS: Luke Skywalker
COOL FACT: He once climbed inside the giant Jabba the Hutt puppet and said that inside it felt like a sauna.
WHO: Harrison Ford
PLAYS: Han Solo
COOL FACT: Ford had his ear pierced at the age of 55 in a Los Angeles branch of Claire’s Accessories.
WHO: Carrie Fisher
COOL FACT: She is a foot shorter than Harrison Ford and stood on a box to film many of their scenes together in the original movies.
WHO: Peter Mayhew
COOL FACT: Despite never saying any actual words in any of the films (Wookiees can’t speak) 7ft tall Peter is a big hit on Twitter: his account @thewookieeroars has 172K followers.
WHO: Anthony Daniels
COOL FACT: Daniels and Kenny Baker (bottom) are the only actors to be credited with appearing in ALL 7 Star Wars films.
WHO: Kenny Baker
COOL FACT: He once said of co-star Anthony Daniels (above) that he was the ‘rudest man I’ve ever met’. Thankfully he put their differences aside to star in The Force Awakens.
And finally…here’s a quick Star Wars dictionary
There are entire websites dedicated to this stuff (find more on the Wookieepedia), but here are the bare essentials to get you through the film.
Jedi Knights - the good guys dressed in cream cloaks
Stormtroopers - the bad guys dressed in white armour
The Death Star - Darth Vader’s space station that is powerful enough to destroy an entire planet. It is definitely NOT a moon.
Wookiee - unusually tall hairy creature that is clever enough to co-pilot a spaceship.
Ewok - unusually short hairy creature that lives on the forest moon of Endor. Surprisingly good at fighting in groups.
X-Wing Fighter - Luke Skywalker’s favoured mode of transport, and the fighting fleet of The Rebellion.
The Force - the other-worldly powers used by Jedis and Darth Vader
Lightsaber - like a sword, but made of light
The Millennium Falcon - Han Solo’s legendary spaceship. Can reach light speed on a good day.
Watch the trailer of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens below