FIRST LOOK: New Characters of ‘Star Wars: Force Awakens’

By Phill Powell

The buzz is everywhere and it’s building. The world is clamoring for news about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and each bit of info we learn makes us even more eager to see director J.J. Abrams’ first installment of the new “Star Wars” trilogy of films, which opens December 18, 2015.

Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_photo_shootFamous photographer Annie Leibovitz shoots Harrison Ford and other cast members of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Recently, famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz captured some great behind-the-scenes snaps of the new movie being made, which hint at the incredible filmmaking and visual effects we’re already expecting. This is also an opportunity to learn a little more about the new characters we’ll be meeting.

Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_Kanata_castleTo meet really offbeat characters, journey over to Maz Kanata’s castle, where the interstellar elite meet. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair)

So here are some of the new characters you can look forward to seeing on the big screen, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts:

Finn
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_FinnFinn (John Boyega) is a stranded stormtrooper on the desert planet of Jakku, where he meets Rey.

Actor: John Boyega
Bio: A stormtrooper whose life is changed forever when he meets Poe and Rey, there’s not much else known yet about Finn, except that, SPOILER ALERT: Finn is Lando Calrissian’s Son. Sometimes he’s seen in stormtrooper armor, but at other times he dresses like a civilian. There’s some talk that suggests Finn may become a Jedi.

Rey
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_Abrams_on_setDirector J.J. Abrams advises Daisy Ridley, who portrays the desert scavenger known as Rey. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair)

Actor: Daisy Ridley
Bio: A tough and resourceful desert scavenger who looks like she might instead belong in the new “Mad Max” movie, Rey tears across the sandy surface of Jakku on her special speeder bike.

Poe Dameron
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_Poe_DameronOscar Isaac in the role of rebel pilot Poe Dameron, with the T-70 X-wing fighter he flies. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair)

Actor: Oscar Isaac
Bio: A dashing pilot for the Rebel Alliance? Yep. Early reports suggest that Poe Dameron will be like a Han Solo reboot for a new age. He’s got the grizzled, too-busy-to-care look down cold. Viewers can expect many heroic scenes and iconic moments from this character.

Maz Kanata
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_Maz_Kanata Industrial Light & Magic applied these dots to actress Lupita Nyong’o in order to develop the CGI creation known as Maz Kanata.

Actor: Lupita Nyong’o
Bio: It’s not everyday you meet a female pirate, but that’s exactly the case with Maz Kanata. She owns an amazing castle that seems to attract the scourge of the galaxy: smugglers and petty criminals of every type (and species). Many are expecting the scenes at Maz Kanata’s castle to go down in the “Star Wars” hall of fame of special moments, like the famous “space cantina” scene from the original Star Wars.

Kylo Ren
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_Kylo_RenKylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) leads snowtroopers and seems to be following in Darth Vader’s boot steps. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair)

Actor: Adam Driver
Bio: Meet the man who would be the next Lord Vader. Kylo Ren often dresses in all black with a dark mask, hood and cloak. He’s also heavily armed, with a special lightsaber that projects a red cross guard out of its sides. Expect the ominous from the mysterious Kylo Ren.

Captain Phasma
Star_Wars_Force_Awakens_silver_sith“Who dares trespass on this theater without ordering tickets online first?” Gwendoline Christie makes a striking impression as the chrome-plated Captain Phasma. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair)

Actor: Gwendoline Christie
Bio: Remember Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones? The same actress is back as Captain Phasma, an officer of the First Order. She is known partly for her amazing chrome-plated armor. She appears in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

Super Shooter

Annie Leibovitz, whose photos appeared in the Vanity Fair Star Wars issue, is best known for her work in Rolling Stone magazine, where her iconic and creative portraits of musicians and movie stars have made her one of the few celebrity photographers who is actually a celebrity herself.

New_York_CityThe great Annie Leibovitz will go to incredible lengths…and heights…to capture the perfect photograph. (Photo by David Schonaeur, The New York Times)

Are you a photographer, or have you ever thought of becoming one? Do you want to work on the same type of cool photo assignments as Annie Leibovitz? It takes talent, but it also takes training.

This summer you can learn how to take your photography to the next level by attending a Digital Media Academy photography tech camp, available at select DMA campus locations.

Who knows? Maybe your work could wind up appearing on the cover of famous national magazines and top websites!