Early in December, Kevin Smith appeared on Good Morning America with hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines. Smith is a director of films, but he’s also a big Star Wars fan, and he provided some voices in The Force Awakens. During the GMA interview, he revealed that he had actually visited the set of Star Wars: Episode IX recently.
Here’s what Smith had to say:
I’m a small-time director, but I was just on a big-time movie set. I was just over in England and I visited J.J. Abrams on Star Wars. The new Star Wars movie. … No, oh my Lord, they make you sign so many non-disclosure agreements that if I said anything, somebody’d pop out [with a] lightsaber [and] cut my hand off. … Probably, just for mentioning it, but I do want to say this: number one, J.J.’s doing the Lord’s work, man, this movie looks fantastic. It’s a year away, but man it looks fantastic. I wept on-set because I saw somebody give a career-best performance. Somebody I’ve seen in these movies before. I rolled a tear it was so darn powerful. Biggest set I’ve ever seen in my life. The dude’s not directing a movie, it’s like he’s directing a small country. Like, the thing is so massive. And I sat there for a week and watched two scenes get filmed. One of them was absolutely amazing, I heard plot details and stuff, movie’s going to be fantastic. So I got to watch somebody else direct.
So obviously, there are some general takeaways there, especially as it pertains to the scale of the production. We knew that it was going to be big, but coming from a filmmaker like Smith, that means a bit more. He obviously is thrilled with what he’s seen and heard. But the thing that I really want to point out from his statements is this: he saw somebody whom we have seen in these films before give a “career-best” performance.
So who is he talking about? Well, the reality is that we’re not going to get any clarification on that, at least until after the film releases next December. But I do think there’s enough there that we can at least make an educated guess. The fact that Smith says it’s a “career-best” performance seems to at least imply that this is somebody who we have seen significantly before, as otherwise there wouldn’t be much use in referencing the person’s career. Additionally, I have read quite a few comments from people explaining that Smith seems to be especially fond of the original trilogy (understandably!), so when he says it’s someone we’ve seen in these films before, does that mean then that it’s someone not just from the sequel trilogy? I think that’s a fair guess.
If that’s the case (and, again, let’s be clear that this is all just guessing), then it’d probably come down to either Mark Hamill or Billy Dee Williams. We don’t know Billy Dee’s filming schedule, but we do know that Hamill previously spent a week on the set. Did Smith’s visit just so happen to coincide with that week? It’d seem rather coincidental, but it’s possible. And considering that in The Last Jedi Hamill gave what was his best performance yet as Luke Skywalker, it’s fair to think that he’ll keep that up in Episode IX.
But on a larger note, regardless of who Smith was talking about, one of the (many) terrific things about The Last Jedi was the acting. Director Rian Johnson truly got some absolutely phenomenal performances out of his cast, including Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and Mark Hamill, plus Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, etc. I hope that trend continues in Episode IX, and it seems incredibly likely that it will given the cast.