We were standing in the Hall H press cage (no really, that’s what it’s called, it’s a little pen by the side of the stage, they keep us quarantined) waiting for the panel to start, and we heard the guys from TheConGuy.com say that this was going to be the biggest event in Comic-Con history.
Thinking it over, they’re right. No disrespect to any other well-loved franchise, but what else can compare to the 15 years we’ve waited for this movie? Sure we had Comic-Con announcements before the Prequels, but we knew none of the original cast would be in those films. This time is different. The footage we’ve seen gives us hope, the interviews sound promising, and we know that the three characters we know best, played by the three actors who gave them life the first time around, are going to be a part of it all.
And the panel at Hall H lived up to everything we’d hoped for.
First we had Chris Hardwick, holding court in a room full of hyperactive, sleep-deprived, unbelievably excited nerds. Then we heard from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, writer Lawrence Kasdan, and director J.J. Abrams, talking about the love behind this property, and the insane responsibility behind creating this film, how much is riding on it. Abrams grew up as a Star Wars fan, and still has trouble believing he’s part of it.
“I sat down with John Williams to show him scenes from a Star Wars movie he hadn’t seen yet, that I directed. There is nothing normal about any of what’s been happening.”
We were shown a great example of practical effects with Babba Jo, a strange creature who lumbered onto the stage, wrinkling his nose at the audience, and trying to eat name tags.
We got to see a fantastic behind-the-scenes video, getting glimpses of the ships, droids, and characters we love so much. Spontaneous cheers burst out every time we saw something we recognized.
We got to hear from the Light Side in actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac. Then we met the Dark Side with actors Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie (Christie, of Game of Thrones fame, getting the second-largest applause of the evening.) They were all wonderful; clever and quippy and obviously very comfortable around each other. They looked like they were having the best time.
But best of all (and you knew it was coming) they brought out Carrie Fisher to thunderous applause, and we heard her talk about what it was like to walk on set and see this film taking shape, what it was like to come back after all these years.
It was a little bit like before, except we looked more melted this time. But in a good way.
And of course Mark Hamill arrived to giant applause, and spoke to the fans about his love of sci-fi, and how much the love of the fans means to what they’re trying to do.
Because without you guys, we’re nothing.
Then Chris Hardwick made a wonderfully fake attempt at subtlety by asking “Is Harrison okay, has he been okay?” To which Abrams replied “Well why don’t we see for ourselves!” and the fans blew the roof off the hall as Harrison Ford strolled onstage.
Ford talked about the feeling of walking back on the set, clearing his throat at one point, visibly emotional about the experience.
Well it should have felt ridiculous, it was over 30 years ago and I sort of grew up, and here I was doing something I did so long ago. I will tell you, it felt great. I wasn’t so sure it would, but the company was the right company, the director was the right director, Larry wrote us a wonderful story, and I was proud and grateful to once again be involved. You know, the original Star Wars that I was a part of, really was the beginning of my working life, and I was very very grateful for the opportunity that I had in that film, and for the success of that film. So it was great to be back.
I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the hall.
The rapport between the three legacy characters was terrific to watch. They kidded around and teased each other, and at one point Hamill talked about how traumatic it would be to have the woman he fell in love with turn out to be his sister, and then fall for someone else. Ford patted him on the back.
I mean, how many times can I say I’m sorry?
Hamill put his head on the table, defeated. It was hilarious.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Chris Hardwick asked if anybody would like to see a Star Wars concert, and announced that they were taking every person in the hall, all 6500 of us, to an exclusive performance by the San Diego Symphony of the music of Star Wars. It took an hour to carefully walk the whole crowd there, but they passed out light sabers and the music was glorious and the fireworks were some of the best ever.
Now how is anything ever going to top that?
Photos by Ahmed Ordero
Photos by Andrew Plein
Photos by Elizabeth Wallace and Kathryn Wallace Adams (waaaay over in the press cage.)
And Jada Scarbrough captured the fireworks show!