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J.J. Abrams Explains How He Picked The New 'Star Wars' Character Names

Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma has a connection to a cult horror movie.

In Entertainment Weekly's Fall Preview issue, we take a trip to a galaxy far, far away for new photos and info about J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Beyond revealing the reason that led Abrams to sign on to the project -- the question "Who is Luke Skywalker?" was enough to hook him -- the issue also details how the filmmaker came up with the names of the new characters.

Here's how Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma and more came into existence.

Kylo Ren: While we don't know much about Driver's Kylo Ren, who's allied with The First Order, we do know that he wasn't born with that name. "He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren," Abrams told EW. Fans also shouldn't expect Ren to be the typical bad guy. While Abrams called him more "complex," screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan said he's "full of emotion." Ren also made his crossguard lightsaber all by himself (as a handy Adam Driver would). 

Poe Dameron: Sometimes a name just comes to you. That's what happened to Abrams with Oscar Isaac's X-Wing pilot. The character's first name was something that just felt right to the director (and also might've come from his daughter's toy polar bear's nickname). As for the last name, Abrams' assistant, Morgan Dameron, is to thank for the inspiration. Cue "Star Wars" fans applying for that job.

Captain Phasma: We got our first full look at Gwendoline Christie's First Order warrior, Captain Phasma, in Annie Leibovitz's Vanity Fair photo in May (after the character made a quick cameo in the film's trailer). Now we know that the chrome-suited character's name was inspired by the 1979 horror movie "Phantasm." Abrams told EW, "Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan’s wardrobe team. It reminded me of the ball in 'Phantasm,' and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool." 

General Hux: We got our very first look at Domhnall Gleeson's bad guy General Hux at the "Force Awakens" Comic-Con panel earlier this year. Although Abrams couldn't recall exactly how he thought up Hux's name -- it might have been during a walk with Kasdan when the two were discussing the film -- we do know that the base Hux is in command of, Starkiller, is an homage to Luke Skywalker's original last name in the "Star Wars" scripts

Finn and Rey: There aren't many details about John Boyega's runaway stormtrooper Finn and Daisy Ridley's scavenger Rey, mostly because we don't know their last names. When EW asked Abrams whether there's a reason he's kept their surnames a secret, he simply said it was "completely intentional." Get ready for some surprises.

BB-8: The cute new droid made his his first live appearance during the "Star Wars" Celebration event in April. So why the name? "I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia,” Abrams told the magazine. "It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B’s."

Check out brand new photos from "The Force Awakens" over at EW.com. The Fall Preview issue is available on newsstands now.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hits theaters Dec. 18.

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