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Witness the Glory of Vanity Fair’s ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Cover Photo Shoot

Today is Star Wars Day (“May The Fourth Be With You,” get it?), and since it’s the first Star Wars Day in a decade to take place in a year that will also include a new Star Wars movie release, we were expecting something big from Lucasfilm to celebrate. Now, thanks to Vanity Fair, we’ve got it.

Over the weekend, the magazine unveiled the cover for its June issue (shown above) featuring old Star Wars stars Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and new Star Wars stars Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and adorable new ball droid BB-8. That was cool enough, but today they revealed the photos – shot by the legendary Annie Leibovitz on location with the cast and crew – to go with that cover and its story (which we’ll get to read later this week). Like all Leibovitz work, the photos are stunning, but they also revealed some brand new information about characters from the film, including some we’ve never seen before. So, let’s break it down photo-by-photo, shall we?

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That’s Adam Driver, who’s finally been confirmed as Kylo Ren, the guy wielding that new lightsaber with the crossguard in the very first trailer for The Force Awakens. He’s backed by two Snowtroopers, who serve The First Order, which is the new name for the Galactic Empire as conflict rages on decades after Return of the Jedi.

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That’s Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o, and no, she’s not wearing a costume. Those dots are part of a motion capture rig so she can perform her CGI character that we can finally put a name to: Maz Kanata. We don’t know what she’ll look like yet, or whose side she’ll be on, but we do know that she’s a pirate, carrying on the long tradition of intergalactic criminals in the Star Wars saga. Oh, and she has a castle, and it’s populated by this motley band of aliens:

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That’s Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a character he described as “the best damn pilot in the galaxy.” He’s in full James Dean mode, but instead of a sports car he’s posing alongside the X-Wing starfighter we’ve seen him piloting in both trailers now.

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And finally, we have a little behind-the-scenes shot of director J.J. Abrams and star Daisy Ridley (on the left of the frame) working on a sequence on the new desert planet of Jakku, which has been heavily featured in both trailers. This photo doesn’t give us any new information, but Star Wars fans have to be happy to see so much practical set construction at work.

UPDATE: This photo wasn’t supposed to arrive until later, but it just hit the ‘net. Behold Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), in her very badass Stormtrooper armor.

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The full Vanity Fair Star Wars: The Force Awakens story will hit LA and New York newsstands on May 7 and newsstands everywhere May 12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18. Check out a behind-the-scenes clip from Leibovitz’s shoot below.

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