Although Star Wars VII has been spotted as far as Abu Dhabi, they were a little closer to home recently… staying in Wales during a location shoot in the Forest of Dean.
That’s right folks – Welsh Star Wars fans can now say that Star Wars VII has rocked up on their doorstep. And while the multi-million dollar production is yet to film any scenes in our lovely Welsh valleys, they did pitch up tents in Celtic Manor Resort – a luxury, five-star hotel where they stayed for about a week while filming in the Forest of Dean.
The world-renowned resort (which recently hosted the NATO Summit as well as the Ryder Cup) housed the production for a whole week, while Abrams, the cast and crew shipped back and forth their filming location at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean.
And how do I know that?
It’s where I recently met with J.J. Abrams himself for a brief chat about Star Wars VII.
Unfortunately, Abrams could say very little about the production itself. It was back during a time when Disney and Lucasfilm were dealing with the fallout of those leaked TMZ images. And while I wasn’t expecting any behind-the-scenes info, even the notoriously secretive J.J. Abrams seemed particularly tight-lipped.
However, I was able to gleam a few nuggets of information… for one thing, actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Pip Andersen and Adam Driver were all at the hotel, ready for the shoot. But that’s not all.
There was a lot of business talk at the resort, and with Kathleen Kennedy also heading back and forth the set, it seems there was a lot to discuss. One thing I do know is that there was a bit of strategising when it comes to the tone of the upcoming sequel trilogy.
It was mentioned that Lucasfilm is aiming to differentiate themselves from the Marvel and Pixar brands within the Disney umbrella. To that end, they’re aiming for more of a unified, cohesive tone with the sequel movies… more so than Marvel’s MCU efforts, which tend to mix and match different film styles to keep things fresh.
But there were plenty of other discussions going on amongst the crew…
One thing I heard while sitting with some crew members was the sheer quantity of extras involved. We’re talking thousands of extra hands on set. I currently have no idea whether this was in reference to the shoot at Puzzlewood, but I would suggest that’s the probably the case. Mostly, because it seems that they were filming a rather large-scale battle sequence out in the woods.
That’s right folks – it looks as though Star Wars VII will feature a battle scene with thousands of extras. But that’s not all. I have it on good authority that the Puzzlewood shoot involved a full-scale battle which surrounded a pivotal fight scene with some of our main characters.
The actors involved? None other than John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Pip Andersen. I also had word that Adam Driver was on the scene (and spotted him skulking around the hotel) but I was unable to establish his exact role in those scenes. But judging from the state of Ridley and Boyega’s stunt doubles, they were in for quite a workout.
Of course, the fact that Pip Andersen was involved is no big surprise… and leads me to believe that he was chosen due to his parkour background. Whether or not he’s playing a hero or villain remains to be seen. But I can’t help thinking that J.J. might just have cherry-picked the best element of the prequel trilogy – a Darth Maul-style villain.
One thing I would add – judging from the mood in the hotel, the actors are all having an absolute blast on set… and some just can’t believe their luck. I briefly ran into Pip Andersen who was positively beaming as he arrived back at the hotel. It’s unclear whether or not this was Pip’s first scene in the movie. But it could well be the first that we know about.
That aside, the atmosphere was electric and even Abrams himself was visibly excited. And I have a real good feeling about that. Whether or not Star Wars VII will return to Wales in order to shoot some scenes remains unknown… but either way, it seems we’ve had a rare brush with the galaxy far, far away.
Do you think Star Wars VII will return to Wales? Could Chippy Lane give the Mos Eisley cantina a run for its money? Let us know what you think in the comments below…