On Thursday, JJ Abrams kicked off a weekend Star Wars convention by revealing the second teaser trailer for the upcoming one Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, and it included the first reveal of Harrison Ford reprising his role as Han Solo.
“Chewie, we’re home!” Ford says as Chewbacca stands behind him to close the teaser, which also included footage of a Millennium Falcon chase, a molten Darth Vader mask, a lightsaber transfer, and Mark Hamill’s speech to Leia from Return of the Jedi, though this time chopped up to sound like he’s now saying it to an heir to the throne. Stormtroopers, X-Wings, TIE Fighters, new droids, and the sequel’s three new protagonists also feature prominently.
Leading up to that teaser reveal, Weekly entertainment columnist Anthony Breznican hosted a panel with Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, asking questions about filming scenes in Abu Dhabi, designing new droids (including the new droid “BB8”, whose impressive design of the rolling ball includes a head that can rotate at the top), and the casting of the series’ three new protagonists.
Those protagonists, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), also appeared onstage to give brief descriptions of their characters – admittedly vague things about rebellious attitudes and chance encounters. Boyega then admitted that while on set, he had been given a two-foot-tall figurine of Han Solo in Stormtrooper gear, signed by Harrison Ford (“this is weird,” Ford apparently told Boyega). Isaac pantomimed with a lightsaber to mimic how he felt when he booked the part in Episode VII.
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew joined the panel near the end, strangely facing a line of stoic Stormtroopers. Daniels was having fun with the giant blunder the event had posted an hour earlier in the form of a misspelled Twitter promotion introducing himself to the mass audience as “CP3O.” When asked about her classic hair, Fisher told the audience, “The buns are tired now, so we probably won’t have futuristic buns, but we’ll have something else that you guys will really love – which isn’t the metallic bikini , I promise!” (Fisher also made an awkward joke about “playing with me when I was plastered.”)
“I wanted to get away from sequels”
At the event, Abrams also spoke candidly about his reluctance to take on the role of leader of the next Star Wars follow-up. His initial reaction to Kennedy’s request to direct was a resounding “No!” as it turns out.
“I said no, partly because it was incredibly daunting, partly because my family had a plan of what we were going to do for the next year,” Abrams said. “I had done a lot of things, like sequels; I wanted to get rid of that. But once we sat there talking about what would come next, what it might be… I found myself having this conversation with [Kennedy]and it was impossible to say no.”
Abrams also admitted that he once dressed up as a Jawa for Halloween – “but I don’t want to tell you what year that was,” he joked – then cheered on the crowd Star Wars fans to start making their own film. “Everyone has a phone in their pocket now,” Abrams told the crowd. “The ability to make movies and tell stories is real and incredible. The technology has been democratized. If you want to make a movie, the only one stopping you is you.”
The keynote kicked off the weekend’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, a four-day convention filled with activities that included guest appearances from series stars (except Harrison Ford, who is still recovering from a plane crash), panels from set designers, signature lines, and even “young lightsaber training.”
Between a riveting teaser trailer, a boot for George Lucas’ contributions, and plenty of high JJ Abrams-fuelled expectations, fans have had reason to get excited about Star Wars again. (Around Ars, we’re not the sort to reach so much hype overdrive that we freak out when we see, say, the series’ new Stormtrooper design – which leaked earlier this week in the Star Wars Celebration’s own guide.) We imagine this. the weekend’s convention will be packed with similar minutiae reveals – including the new “BB8”, which was introduced, we kid you not, by way of a special Twitter emoji.
In the end, as much as we liked the brand new teaser, we’ll keep our excitement about any other sequel detail drip over the weekend – unless we hear Mark Hamill being defended against a mob of fanboys anyway.