Some people out there have already seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and while legitimate reviews won’t be out for a couple more weeks, initial reactions are nothing short of exuberant — even if the only major one comes from Star Wars newcomer Richard E. Grant, who joined the cast of Episode IX as Allegiant General Pryde.
John Boyega, who plays Finn, tweeted Monday that he’d be seeing The Rise of Skywalker for the first time on Tuesday, our first hint that Episode IX was being screened on Tuesday night for cast and crew. Then, early Wednesday morning, Grant tweeted out an emotional selfie video of his non-spoilery reaction to seeing it for the first time during “the 1st cast screening.”
In the accompanying 30-second video, he says “nothing prepares you for this” and “it’s absolutely everything that you hoped it was going to be,” adding that it brought him to tears but also inspired him to cheer several times. “What it achieves, weaves & resolves, is a total emotional meltdown & resurrection of the Spirit,” he wrote in the tweet.
Grant has spoken up in the past about Disney and Lucasfilm’s extreme security surrounding the film, so it’s surprising that he was able to post anything at all and even more surprising that he hasn’t been forced to take the video down yet.
Other than one screening for a terminally ill fan on Thanksgiving, the Tuesday night screening was presumably the first time anyone had seen The Rise of Skywalker. Contrary to some ridiculous rumors out there that early test screenings were so disastrous that they led to walkouts, director J.J. Abrams confirmed in a late-November interview with Esquire that there were no test screenings for the film at all.
This has been the case for every Star Wars film in recent memory, even the controversial previous entry, The Last Jedi, which was first screened to cast and crew barely a week before the theatrical release. For there to be no test screenings for The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a cause for concerns by any means, and the fact that this particular screening happened more than two weeks before the film’s release speaks to Disney’s confidence in the movie.
Grant’s character in The Rise of Skywalker is being described as a “new villain,” but it’s hard to know exactly what the title “Allegiant General” really means. He could be some kind of leader in the Sith Trooper army, or he might just be a high-ranking First Order general we haven’t met yet. Either way, his personality and mission couldn’t be more different from the real Richard E. Grant, who’s giddy and positive, brimming with excitement for The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in theaters December 20, 2019.