A long time ago, on movie screens around the world, a new universe of space rogues, starships, Jedi, droids and wondrous possibility lighted a spark that would fuel the imaginations of generations to come. The characters who made this original sci-fi galaxy come alive became iconic in their own right as one episode gave way to the next: Luke. Leia. Han. Vader.
Now, 40 years after George Lucas debuted “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” and two years after “The Force Awakens” introduced a colorful array of new and returning heroes and villains to the most enduring film franchise in Hollywood history, “The Last Jedi” hits screens with even more fresh faces joining the fray. The latest film also continues important strides made in “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One” to add much-needed, modern dashes of inclusivity and representation to the galaxy far, far away.
From Jedi legends to rebel scum to devious dark siders, here are 13 characters you need to know going into the latest episode in the four-decade franchise.
1. Daisy Ridley as Rey
English actress Daisy Ridley is back as Rey, the Force-sensitive scavenger-turned-resistance fighter heroine of “The Force Awakens.” We last saw her trekking to the remote island home of M.I.A. Jedi master Luke Skywalker, lightsaber in hand, with unanswered questions about her long-lost parents and her own destiny.
2. John Boyega as Finn
Reformed ex-stormtrooper FN-2187, a.k.a. Finn, found himself after defecting from the First Order and the command of the brutal Capt. Phasma in “The Force Awakens.” Along with his friend Rey, he too joined the Resistance under the leadership of Gen. Leia Organa and searches for his place within the ranks of scrappy rebels battling the galaxy-conquering military dictatorship known as the First Order. He was last seen nursing pretty severe injuries from a climactic lightsaber battle.
3. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
The dashing space flyboy with a headstrong streak is still the best X-wing fighter pilot in the Resistance. Now, after linking up with new bestie/hero Finn in “The Force Awakens,” Poe must learn to lead in “The Last Jedi,” with and without his trusty droid BB-8 by his side.
4. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daddy issues still drive the First Order’s star killer and son of Han Solo and Leia. Born Ben Solo, the former Jedi-in-training molded himself in the slick, sinister, black-helmeted style of his dear old grandpa, Darth Vader. Loyal to the dark side under the sway of Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren was left scarred in more ways than one by his first face-off with Rey. With so much darkness, anger and pain still roiling within him, it may not be his last.
5. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Meet Rose Tico, “The Last Jedi” fan favorite breakout in the making. Played by 28-year-old newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, a San Diego native, Rose works as a mechanic for the Resistance — which is how she crosses paths with Finn and Poe en route to her own heroic destiny in the eighth episodic installment of the “Star Wars” series. “[She] has the biggest new part in the movie and ironically is played by the smallest actor,” director Rian Johnson said in April at Disney’s Star Wars Celebration event.
6. Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
The sinister and powerful First Order leader first introduced in holographic form in “The Force Awakens” comes to life in “The Last Jedi” through the motion-capture CGI performance of Andy Serkis. Villainous master to Kylo Ren, commander of the imperious First Order fleet of warships and stormtroopers, Snoke is intent on seizing control of the galaxy and seeks to snuff out all remaining vestiges of hope that persist as long as Luke Skywalker is around to keep the Jedi faith alive.
7. Carrie Fisher as Gen. Leia Organa
Leia Organa’s journey through the “Star Wars” films has taken her from princess to senator to general, and “The Last Jedi” sees the grande dame of the galaxy steadfastly leading what remains of the Resistance. The late Carrie Fisher, who passed away during production after completing her scenes, is a strong presence throughout in her final filmed role in the franchise.
8. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
As revealed in “The Force Awakens,” the most wanted Jedi master in the galaxy went into hiding after losing his nephew, Ben Solo, to the dark side. “The Last Jedi” picks up where its predecessor left off as Rey, with the help of Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon, tracks down a much-changed Skywalker at a crucial make-or-break moment for the Resistance.
9. Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
Leia’s lavender-haired second in command, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo of the planet Gatalenta, is one of the key new cast members in “Last Jedi.” According to the canonical young adult novel “Leia, Princess of Alderaan,” Holdo and Leia’s friendship dates back to their teens, when both served in the Apprentice Legislature of the Imperial Senate. By the events of “Jedi,” Holdo is a leader of the Resistance.
10. Benicio del Toro as DJ
Another of the film’s enigmatic new characters is an underworld operative with a particular set of skills known as DJ, played by franchise newcomer Benicio del Toro.
Domhnall Gleeson reprises his “Force Awakens” role with aplomb, reveling in the sneering superiority and machinations of the First Order’s ruthless Gen. Hux. His former command Starkiller Base might be destroyed, but Hux’s rivalry with fellow Snoke disciple Kylo Ren is alive and well.
12. Billie Lourd as Kaydel Ko Connix
Carrie Fisher’s real-life daughter, Billie Lourd, also reprises her “Star Wars” role in “The Last Jedi,” bringing her young Resistance officer Lt. Kaydel Ko Connix back with more screen time and expanded duties, facing down the First Order’s menacing advances as a member of Leia’s rebel army.
In space, no one can hear you... squeal at the most adorable additions to the “Star Wars” universe: Porgs. These merchandising-ready creatures dominated “The Last Jedi” promotional campaign. Now fans can finally decide whether their dedication to the Porg Life was warranted — or if, as Times critic Justin Chang suggests, these delectable new creatures are more “cute, tasty and completely disposable, like Ewok McNuggets.”