John Boyega teams up with Netflix to create African films

John Boyega has teamed up with Netflix to create a series of feature films focused on African stories.The 27-year-old actor, who has British-Nigerian parents, has partnered with the streaming giant through his UpperRoom Productions company to develop n…

John Boyega has teamed up with Netflix to create a series of feature films focused on African stories.

The 27-year-old actor, who has British-Nigerian parents, has partnered with the streaming giant through his UpperRoom Productions company to develop non-English language films focusing on stories and characters in Africa.

Representatives for the independent production company announced the news on Tuesday, revealing that they will “develop film projects based on stories, cast, characters, crew, literary properties, mythology, screenplays and/or other elements in or around African countries.”

Boyega, who shot to stardom playing Stormtrooper Finn in the recent Star Wars trilogy, said he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to tell stories about his ancestry.

“I am thrilled to partner with Netflix to develop a slate of non-English language feature films focused on African stories, and my team and I are excited to develop original material,” he said in a statement. “We are proud to grow this arm of our business with a company that shares our vision.”

Back in December, Boyega proudly showcased his heritage at the London premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by walking the red carpet in traditional Nigerian attire, including a royal blue Agbada robe with gold accents and matching hat.

“Africa has a rich history in storytelling, and for Netflix, this partnership with John and UpperRoom presents an opportunity to further our investment in the continent while bringing unique African stories to our members both in Africa and around the world,” said David Kosse, vice president of international film at Netflix.

Boyega founded UpperRoom Productions in 2016, when he co-produced and starred in sci-fi blockbuster Pacific Rim: Uprising, and has since been developing a series of TV and film projects.

© Cover Media

J.D. Dillard and Matt Owens working on secret Star Wars project

Director J.D. Dillard and writer Matt Owens have made history by becoming the first African-American creative team to work on a Star Wars project.The duo has reportedly been tapped to work on an upcoming project set on the hidden Sith planet Exegol, wh…

Director J.D. Dillard and writer Matt Owens have made history by becoming the first African-American creative team to work on a Star Wars project.

The duo has reportedly been tapped to work on an upcoming project set on the hidden Sith planet Exegol, which was introduced in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

However, it’s unclear if they have been hired for a movie or limited series for streaming on Disney+, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dillard, who is best known for writing and directing the 2016 sci-fi thriller Sleight, is already affiliated with the franchise, with him working in production/technical support on Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and appearing as a First Order FN Corps Stormtrooper called FN-1226 in The Rise of Skywalker. Owens has worked on Marvel TV shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luke Cage, and The Defenders.

The future of the iconic sci-fi saga was cast into doubt back in October when Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss walked away from their much-publicised deal with Lucasfilm to launch another Star Wars trilogy in 2022 in order to focus on their partnership with Netflix.

However, Marvel boss Kevin Feige and The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson are also working on separate Star Wars projects, believed to be unrelated to the Dillard one.

Disney is working on a number of Star Wars spin-offs for its new streaming service, which launched in the U.S. last year, following the success of The Mandalorian, which starred Pedro Pascal and launched the viral sensation, Baby Yoda.

Ewan McGregor is also reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for an upcoming Disney+ spin-off series, which was recently delayed due to production issues, while Diego Luna is playing his Rogue One character Cassian Andor once again in a new show.

Disney+ will launch in the U.K. on 24 March.

© Cover Media

Taika Waititi in talks to direct new Star Wars movie – report

Taika Waititi has reportedly been approached by Lucasfilm bosses to direct a new Star Wars movie.The filmmaker is in negotiations to join the as-yet-untitled project after he wraps production on Thor: Love and Thunder for Marvel Studios, according to e…

Taika Waititi has reportedly been approached by Lucasfilm bosses to direct a new Star Wars movie.

The filmmaker is in negotiations to join the as-yet-untitled project after he wraps production on Thor: Love and Thunder for Marvel Studios, according to editors at The Hollywood Reporter.

Waititi is no stranger to the sci-fi franchise, as he directed the last episode of The Mandalorian for Disney+, which was well-received by audiences.

The New Zealander also voiced the bounty hunter IG-11 on the show, which starred Pedro Pascal as the titular character, and saw the debut of the viral sensation, Baby Yoda.

Back in October, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss abandoned their planned Star Wars trilogy in favour of developing projects at Netflix, leaving the future of the iconic sci-fi saga in doubt.

Negotiations are in the early stages, and it’s not yet known if the Star Wars movie will be for the big screen, or for Disney’s newly launched streaming service.

Waititi, 44, recently landed six Academy Award nominations for his critically-acclaimed World War II satire Jojo Rabbit, including Best Picture, and has just finished production on sports comedy Next Goal Wins, starring Michael Fassbender.

He is also attached to direct Warner Bros.’ live-action adaptation of Akira, a Japanese cyberpunk manga comic book series, and is currently preparing to start filming on the fourth movie in the hugely successful Thor franchise.

Chris Hemsworth will be reprising his role as the Norse god for the Marvel blockbuster, alongside Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, and rumoured newcomer Christian Bale, who may be playing a villain.

© Cover Media

Daisy Ridley doesn’t think she’s funny enough to do comedy

Daisy Ridley can’t imagine herself in a comedy film because she doesn’t think she’s funny enough.The 27-year-old recently bid farewell to her character Rey as the Star Wars trilogy came to an end with The Rise of Skywalker, and now she’s keen to expa…

Daisy Ridley can’t imagine herself in a comedy film because she doesn’t think she’s funny enough.

The 27-year-old recently bid farewell to her character Rey as the Star Wars trilogy came to an end with The Rise of Skywalker, and now she’s keen to expand her acting chops, but there’s one genre she’s steering well clear of.

“The one thing I can’t see myself doing is comedy because I don’t think I’m a funny person – but I could be the straight person,” she told Variety. “Also, you know, it’s time to be brave. So, I’ll go for it!”

Daisy really wants to land a role in a horror movie, even though she’s scared of watching them on the big screen.

“I’m terrified of horror films, but I like them. So I’d like to be in one. But I think it would also, like, screw me up a bit,” she laughed. “I feel like you’d have to be living with your family to exorcise the bad juju when you left set.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Daisy also admitted that since working on Star Wars alongside a huge star-studded cast – including Adam Driver, John Boyega, Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher – she’s drawn to starring in movies in which she feels part of a big group.

“Well, my main thing – which is why I did Orient Express immediately afterwards – is I really like to be part of the group,” the British actress said, noting her 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express. “And I’ve only really done one like leading thing, which was Ophelia, which was overwhelming. I like to be part of a group of people.”

© Cover Media

Rian Johnson: ‘Pandering to film fans is a mistake’

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson believes creating storylines with the sole purpose of pleasing fans is a mistake.The filmmaker, who faced a barrage of criticism from die-hard fans for making unexpected choices when he directed The Last J…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson believes creating storylines with the sole purpose of pleasing fans is a mistake.

The filmmaker, who faced a barrage of criticism from die-hard fans for making unexpected choices when he directed The Last Jedi in 2017, explained that he doesn’t consider pandering to fans to lead to a satisfying final product.

“I think approaching any creative process with (making fandoms happy) would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result,” the 46-year-old said during a recent interview on the Swing & Mrs. podcast. “Even my experience as a fan, you know, if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like ‘oh, okay.’

“It might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.”

While the director’s instalment in the Star Wars saga divided fans, he said he simply wanted cinemagoers to have the same experience with The Last Jedi that he did when watching George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back for the first time in 1980.

“I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things re-contextualised, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theatre,” Johnson explained.

“What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theatre is to have the experience (I had) with Empire Strikes Back, something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”

© Cover Media

J.J. Abrams stunned by ‘weirdly miraculous’ discovery of unseen Carrie Fisher footage

J.J. Abrams remains stunned by the “weirdly miraculous” discovery of unseen footage featuring Carrie Fisher that enabled her character to appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.The actress reprised her role as Princess Leia when the sci-fi franchis…

J.J. Abrams remains stunned by the “weirdly miraculous” discovery of unseen footage featuring Carrie Fisher that enabled her character to appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The actress reprised her role as Princess Leia when the sci-fi franchise was revived in 2015 with The Force Awakens, which was directed by Abrams, but she passed away before the release of her next outing as Leia in 2017’s The Last Jedi, helmed by Rian Johnson. Abrams, who helmed the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, didn’t want to conclude the trilogy without Leia or digitally recreate her or recast the role, and was saved by the discovery of old footage from The Force Awakens.

And while the decision to include footage of Carrie after her death divided opinion among some fans, the filmmaker remains stunned that the unused takes featured the screen star saying almost exactly what they needed her to say.

“The reality that we had the material that was actually her saying things that we needed her to say was vaguely, weirdly miraculous,” he said during an interview on the Australian TV show The Project.

However, he admitted that if the actress was still around “we would have done a few different things. We would have added some stuff that would have been great.”

He jokingly added: “And she would be here today which would make the day much more fun.”

During the interview, Richard E. Grant, who plays Allegiant General Pryde, revealed his own doubts over using the old footage.

“To kind of exhume that footage from another movie and if it wasn’t good enough for the other movie, why should it be good enough for the end?” he mused. “All those caveats or anxieties I had about it were completely put to rest when I saw how they’d done it. It is seamless.”

© Cover Media

Daisy Ridley credits French braids for career success

Daisy Ridley puts her entire career down to the French braids she wore for her first Star Wars audition.The British actress was cast as Rey in the hit franchise at the age of 21, and the star, now 27, is returning in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of…

Daisy Ridley puts her entire career down to the French braids she wore for her first Star Wars audition.

The British actress was cast as Rey in the hit franchise at the age of 21, and the star, now 27, is returning in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is released in cinemas next week.

Speaking to Porter magazine, Daisy revealed that the plaits she wore to her audition may have been the key to her landing the breakthrough role.

“I’m not blind to the fact that if I’d auditioned on a different day, or worn something else…” she mused. “I did my hair in French plaits for the first audition, and I remember Nina (Gold, the casting director) saying: ‘Imagine if you hadn’t worn the French braids. What would have happened?’

“I can’t help but think what a strange thing this has been.”

Daisy’s role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was her first major acting gig, and she confessed she wasn’t fully prepared for what was ahead of her at such a young age.

“Being in your early twenties is a crazy f**king thing anyway,” the actress shared. “You’re trying to figure out: ‘What do I like? What don’t I like?'”

However, Daisy’s now keen to break away from her most recognised role and branch out into other genres, adding: “The more I do out of the Rey costume, the more people see me as an actor. Now, I am just trying to march to the beat of my own drum.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, also starring John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac, hits theatres on 19 December.

© Cover Media

Mark Hamill beat Kurt Russell to Star Wars role thanks to George Lucas’ wife

Mark Hamill has George Lucas’ first wife to thank for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, because she advised the director to cast him.The actor was asked to recount his Star Wars screen test during a recent interview at the 92nd Street Y…

Mark Hamill has George Lucas’ first wife to thank for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, because she advised the director to cast him.

The actor was asked to recount his Star Wars screen test during a recent interview at the 92nd Street Y in New York and confessed he has since found out that he, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were up against another trio, led by Kurt Russell, as Lucas was making his final decision about who to cast in the now-iconic sci-fi fantasy movies.

“There were two sets of Princess, Pirate and Farmboy – Harrison, Carrie and me, and the other group of actors, and when George went to London to start filming he hadn’t yet chosen and Marcia Lucas later told me, ‘I was the one who recommended your group’. So I have to thank Marcia for that,” he explained.

Hamill has since seen the audition tapes that featured as extras on a Star Wars DVD and he’s amazed he got the role of Skywalker.

“I watched William Katt just oozing with charisma, Kurt Russell, Robby Benson was boyish and young; and they all would’ve been perfect for Luke. Kurt Russell was even edging toward Hans Solo, which he could’ve played,” he praised. “I don’t know why they picked me out of everybody else.”

Back in 2017, Russell opened up about missing out on the role of Han Solo.

“I was actually pretty (close), in the final running,” the 68-year-old told USA Today, adding that he was also being considered for a starring role in a Western TV show on U.S. network ABC. “I asked George, ‘Do you think you’re gonna use me?’ He said, ‘I don’t know if I want to put you with him, or those two guys together.’ I got to go to work, so I did the western. Clearly, made the right choice.”

© Cover Media

Star Wars cast accused of ‘throwing Rian Johnson under the bus’ in new interview

Social media users have blasted J.J. Abrams and his Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker cast for seemingly shading Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi in a new interview.The second film in the trilogy, which was released in 2017, was well-received by critics, bu…

Social media users have blasted J.J. Abrams and his Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker cast for seemingly shading Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi in a new interview.

The second film in the trilogy, which was released in 2017, was well-received by critics, but fans of the much-loved sci-fi saga were not so kind, with a minority even starting a petition to remake Johnson’s film.

In a profile piece for The New York Times, Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, and his stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac seemed to suggest they weren’t fans of The Last Jedi either.

Abrams praised the film for being “full of surprises and subversion and all sorts of bold choices,” but then added, “It’s a bit of a meta approach to the story. I don’t think that people go to Star Wars to be told, ‘This doesn’t matter.'”

Isaac, who plays pilot Poe Dameron, said, “The characters were very frustrated, and it felt that way (filming it)… You felt the difficult energy of those scenes, figuring that stuff out,” while Ridley, who portrays Rey, said she cried with relief when Abrams agreed to direct the finale, and Boyega, who plays Finn, said he was glad too, because, “Even as a normal person in the audience, I wanted to see where that story was going.”

Reacting to the comments on Twitter, journalist Alison Herman tweeted, “Rian Johnson would be well within his rights to swear off Star Wars forever after the s**t he took. Instead, he’s been nothing but gracious while his collaborators throw him under the bus,” and author Dana Schwartz posted, “This is f**king bulls**t. Throwing Rian Johnson under the bus to please some crazy fanboys when he made the most interesting and ambitious Star Wars movie since Empire (Strikes Back).”

Another added, “Pivoting toward hating the cast of Star Wars for shading the guy who gave them their best work.”

Boyega was open about his issues with The Last Jedi in an interview with Hypebeast magazine earlier this week, saying it felt “a bit iffy” and he didn’t agree with a lot of the choices made in the film.

© Cover Media

Kathleen Kennedy to receive BAFTA Fellowship

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will be honoured with the BAFTA Fellowship at the 2020 British Academy Film Awards. The American film producer has been chosen by executives at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in recognition…

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will be honoured with the BAFTA Fellowship at the 2020 British Academy Film Awards.

The American film producer has been chosen by executives at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in recognition of her outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, and she will receive the honour at the annual BAFTA ceremony in London on 2 February 2020.

“British filmmaking has always played a significant role in both my life and career,” she said in a statement. “The recent Star Wars movies – all shot on sound stages and locations across the U.K. – are just the latest opportunities that I’ve had the privilege to work with British crews and filmmakers… I am deeply honoured to receive the Fellowship from BAFTA, and am incredibly thankful to have worked with so many talented members of our extended family in the British filmmaking community.”

Amanda Berry, chief executive of BAFTA, said she was “delighted” to be recognising Kennedy’s career.

“She is a trailblazer who has opened the door for many people to join the industry, and the number of iconic cinematic moments she has helped bring to the big screen has enriched the industry and enthralled the cinema-loving public,” she added.

Kennedy follows in the footsteps of previous Fellowship honorees including Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Mel Brooks, and Ridley Scott, among others.

The 66-year-old, who was made president of Lucasfilm after it was acquired by Disney in 2012, has overseen production of the current Star Wars trilogy and its spin-offs.

Kennedy co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg and her now-husband, producer Frank Marshall, in 1981 and got her first producer credit on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. Since then, she’s helped produce films such as the Back to the Future trilogy, the original Jurassic Park trilogy, the Indiana Jones franchise, Men in Black, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, and The Goonies.

© Cover Media