The Mission: attend STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Event on Sunday, 12/6.
Location: undisclosed until the 11th hour.
This event was Top Secret. Even when we arrived in the Parking Garage, our only clue we were close was a mysterious sign that read, “SW VIP WALKWAY”.
We followed arrows to a large white curtain where we were screened, asked for our grammar school report cards, character references and strip-searched* (*some of that may be embellished).
When we did pass through the metal detectors and were officially inside, we were treated to a Star Wars party that can be compared to the Celebration conventions held every few years. There were photo op areas with BB-8 (screen-used from THE FORCE AWAKENS) and classic droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO!
Gaming has been very popular so there was something for the gamers. Disney Infinity previewed their new play set of THE FORCE AWAKENS and were giving out Kylo Ren figures. For the more hardcore there was a chance to play the new first-shooter game, STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT.
Ample Hills Creamery gave out samples of their new The Light Side and The Dark Side ice cream (yes, it is officially blessed by Disney and Lucasfilm). This product is only available on their website, not in stores.
After exploring the main hall, we ventured into a long hallway where we were blown away by screen-used costumes to admire up close. These costumes included Han Solo, General Leia, Kylo Ren, First Order Snowtrooper and Stormtroopers, Finn, Rey and Captain Phasma. It’s obvious just how much hard work goes into these outfits by the costume designers.
It was while Sarah and I were admiring these costumes that we spotted Han Solo (I mean Harrison Ford) being escorted down the hallway and right towards us! As he passed right by, I stuck out my hand and said, “Thank You.” If I thought about it first I probably wouldn’t have been so forward but what’s the worst he could have done, just ignore me? Being the “all-new fan-friendly” Harrison Ford, he shook my hand and said “Thank You.”
After giving the attendees a chance to see what the room had to offer it was now time for Main Event – STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Conference! Energy in the room was palpable as 200 members of the press anxiously awaited the appearance of the cast, director and writer of the most anticipated film EVER!
Since there were too many guests to fit on one couch, the conference was split up into two groups. The first group included J.J. Abrams (Director), Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter) Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Carrie Fisher (General Leia) and Lupita N’Yongo (Maz Kanata).
Before I go into some highlights, take a guess at who they chose to moderate the panel. If you guessed Mindy Kaling then I would have to ask why did you choose her, then I would say that you are correct! Even she joked about being just about the last person you could think of to moderate a Star Wars panel. But she did a great job and kept the guests on their toes! It was obvious she had done her homework and did NOT ask a lot of the same questions the Talk Shows had asked of the actors. For full audio of the Press Conference, listen here:
Here are some highlights:
Press: What is the most important thing to carry over from the original trilogy?
J.J. Abrams: When we started writing the script, we asked ourselves ‘what do we want to feel and what do we want people to feel when they came to this movie?’ The answer was the kind of sense of discovery and exhilaration, surprise and comedy that George Lucas put into Star Wars.
When you look at all the things he got right, it’s impossible! What we tried to do was to give people that sense of possibility and magic that we all felt when we first saw original Star Wars. The fabric needed to be that that we are familiar with in order to tell a brand new story.
I was able to ask a question! I asked the cast what was their scariest moment on their first day working on the movie.
Lawrence Kasdan: The first day we started work, we said we must have fun with this, every day. We didn’t have fear, but we had trepidation of fulfilling people’s expectations. Can we do something that’s worth that much anticipation?
Lupita Nyong’o: Being a motion capture character this was something completely new to me. I had to do this thing where I walked into a room they had to take my picture from all different directions at the same time, with a million different cameras, and that freaked me out.
THE FORCE AWAKENS media onslaught puts the film’s lead character, Rey, front and center. Therefore, the theme of “Girl Power” was brought up by the press. At this point, Carrie Fisher stole the show.
Carrie Fisher: I am the beginning of girl power! I got to be the only girl on an all boy set. So I put things in people’s drinks. Bossing men around was the most fun thing. I encourage you ladies to do so later this afternoon.
Daisy Ridley: I hope Rey will be something of a girl power character. And with writing like JJ and Larry’s, she will have some impact in a girl-powery way. She’s brave and she’s vulnerable and she’s so nuanced. She transcends gender.
Adam Driver was asked to elaborate on Kylo Ren’s character.
Adam Driver: Not thinking about Kylo Ren being bad or evil or a villain, but someone who feels morally justified doing what they’re doing is more fun to play. JJ was consistently calm and couldn’t be more collaborative.
After 45 minutes, this set of cast and crew waved goodbye and out trooped Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Kathleen Kennedy (executive producer), John Boyega (Finn), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron).
The cast was then asked what are some of the themes we should take away from this movie? Great answers here, but John Boyega’s stuck out.
John Boyega: This is a movie about human beings, about cookies, spaceships and tie fighters. It has an undertone and a message of courage and a message of friendship and loyalty and I think it’s something that’s ultimately important. I really, really relate to Rey more than any of the other characters. And to be in a circumstance where you have to find something bigger than who you are yourself. In terms of the kids, all they’re going to be concentrating on is BB8!
Harrison Ford was asked what it means to be a bridge between the two sagas.
Harrison Ford: It’s gratifying. There was an interesting story to tell through the character. It’s always nice to work in something you know people will have an appetite for. Star Wars is not a crapshoot. It’s a whole casino.
Oscar Isacc spoke about the collaboration process and developing his character.
Oscar Isaac: There’s been a real sense of collaboration. It’s a sandbox. There’s an evolution of the characters even from the first meeting. For example with me, I was talking a bit about things at the very end of New Hope. That last shot is shot in Guatemala, and I was born there. Poe is there! that’s where he’s from! That’s where I’m from. And then this comic book , Shattered Empire, comes out and Poe’s parents end up going to Yavin and making sweet love! It’s a beautiful thing. it feels like we’re creating these things together”
John Boyega warned us we don’t get Finn’s full story this time around.
John Boyega: There’s no way our stories are so simple, and we still don’t know. I still have some conspiracy theories as a fan as to where Finn comes from and I like that it’s a mystery.
Judging by the comraderie and fun at both panels there is no doubt STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS will be a great time and live up to all expectations when it hits the big screen on December 18th.