Everything We Learned at the Star Wars Celebration’s ‘Force Awakens’ Panel
But the teaser was just the capper to a lengthy panel featuring additional plot and character details from director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac (along with a few other guests). In case you missed the panel, here are a few of the highlights:
-J.J. Abrams saw Star Wars for the first time at the age of 11. His description of the experience: “Mind-blowing.”
-Abrams, on why he took this very high-pressure job: “It was impossible to say no.”
-Describing the job so far, Abrams added “I’ve never had more fun in my life working on anything.”
-The new ball droid, BB8, is a practical special effect, and he joined the filmmakers on stage. Abrams debated whether to make him practical or computer generated, but ultimately decided to make an animatronic robot. “We knew it would be better if it was performed,” said Abrams.
-The desert planet in the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser was not Tatooine, as most people believed. It’s actually another planet called Jaku (or Jakoo?).
-The makers of the R2-D2 droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, were originally fan builders. Producer Kathleen Kennedy found them at the previous Star Wars Celebration and liked their work so much she decided to hire them for the movie.
-Daisy Ridley, describing her character, Rey: “We discover her on the desert planet Jaku.” She’s a scavenger and “completely self-sufficient” until she meets “another character” and the adventure begins.
-John Boyega, on Finn: “He’s in incredible danger” at the start of the film. Though Boyega did play coy, he acknowledged that, yes, his character really is a Stormtrooper, not just an innocent guy disguised as a Stormtrooper. But he remained silent on whether Finn’s ultimately a hero or a villain.
-John Boyega is a long-time Star Wars fan. He asked Harrison Ford to sign one of his action figures. Ford’s response: “This is weird.” (But he did it anyway.)
-Oscar Isaac was asked who Poe Dameron is. He replied, “He’s the best frickin’ pilot in the galaxy, that’s who he is.” He added, “He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess, and he ends up coming across Mr. John Boyega’s character and their fates are forever intertwined.”
-A fan asked Kathleen Kennedy who she would be if she could be any Star Wars character. “I don’t think I’d have a lot of choices,” she said, “But that’s going to change,” promising strong female characters not just in The Force Awakens, but also in its sequels and spinoffs.
-So far, Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ charity efforts have raised over $6 million for UNICEF.
-Next, original cast members Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher took the stage. Fisher was asked whether her classic Princess Leia haircut would be back in The Force Awakens. “The buns are tired now,” she joked. “So we’re probably not going to have the futuristic buns.” She did promise a new and exciting look. “Not the metal bikini,” she added.
-Carrie Fisher also had the best line of the entire panel, thanking the fans for their decades of support, and for letting the filmmakers be a part of their childhoods: “Thank you for playing with me ... when I’m plastic.” After that, things concluded with a massive group shot.