Star Wars Celebration 2017 starts with a bang

Good Day to all the Geek Enthusiasts and Nerd Aficionados!

Star Wars Celebration 2017 kicked off yesterday. For a large number of attendees the convention started for them on Wednesday. Getting in line over night in order to be in the room when the opening ceremonies began. For people like myself who weren’t able to make it to the show. I got up early and put on the Star Wars channel on YouTube. Where they stream the main panels live.

Forty Years of Star Wars

For the core Star Wars fan we are all aware that Star Wars originally came out 40 years ago. For many that’s a long time ago, in the same galaxy. The opening ceremonies for Celebration this year was in commemoration of that. The show started and Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok, Willow) took the stage. He would be this years moderator for all the main panels. The arena was dark, the people were cheering and the light sabers were waving, fans were ready. Warwick talked about the saga and started with a video, showing a little snippet of the last 40 years. Though I noticed that majority of what was on the video was from the last two years of celebration, since Disney has owned it. I’m sure not a coincidence.

The maker of our fandom universeForty Years Kathleen Kennedy

After the video President of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, took the stage. She talked about the surprise it is that Star Wars is 40 years old. About all that she has seen, in the time she has been with Lucasfilm and how the fans keep them inspired to do more. She told us that all the fans are truly a part of the Lucasfilm family. Then she started talking about George Lucas,

“The greatest honor for me is to acknowledge the man, whos collective genius, has brought us all together today.”

The crowd showed their appreciation in applause. The applause just got louder when she proceeded to introduce George Lucas to the stage. To which a chant of “LUCAS, LUCAS, LUCAS!” started. George pointed out that he had hired Warwick when he was 11 years old and now Warwick has grey hair. Which is what really set in, that it had been forty years for George.Forty Years George Lucas

How Star Wars came in existence

George discussed where he was when he came up with Star Wars. He stated that, ” Star Wars evolved it didn’t come out in one thing.” His idea came from wanting..

” To make an action movie that was more like a Saturday matinee serial that I enjoyed as a kid, but imbue it with mythological, psychological motifs, because we don’t have any of those today. I’m going to take these two things and put them together.”

He then went on a little rant about how the Hollywood Machine works. They try to own you and your work. He talked about American Graffiti not being good enough for the studio he was working with. That despite wanting to own you, if they think your a hot commodity, on the reverse wanting nothing to do with you if you can’t make anything good in their eyes.

He then went into how Star Wars came to be. Talking about how they started doing screenings for American Graffiti to try and get people to get behind it. At one of the screenings the current head of 20th Century Fox, Alan Ladd Jr., came straight up to him and said how much he loved American Graffiti. That he wanted to do George’s next movie. George gave him the pitch,

“Well I got this movie, it’s sort of a space opera thing. We have big dogs driving space ships”

Surprisingly, he said ok and didn’t run the other way.

A story for the child in all of us

Despite all the Board of Directors asking what the heck they were making. Once again George explains,

“The idea was ,simply, to do a high adventure film. That I loved when I was a kid. With meaningful psychological themes. And, I don’t know what I felt. It was like, a really cockamamie idea” He rambled a little bit before continuing ” Seeing all the kids. You know it’s hard for people to realize, and I’m not supposed to say this and I wasn’t supposed to say it then, you know it’s a film for 12 year olds. It was designed to be a film, like mythology, of this is what we stand for. You’re about to enter the real world.”

He further explains the analogy between being 12, joining the real world, and Star Wars. Things to pay attention to, friendships, honesty, trust, doing the right thing, living on the light side, and avoiding the dark side. He relates a story about filming Padme’s palace in Spain and how thousands of children were there. Stating that this is what he did this, (making Star Wars), for.

“In the real world, you know the critics and certain fans, they’re not very kind. But when you see these little kids and the looks on their face and what it means to them. It forgives everything”

Warwick then told a story about how much he enjoyed Star Wars as a child. Showing a letter that he wrote to Lucas just after making The Return of the Jedi. In the letter, he asked George if he could send him the new toys when they came out. Showing a picture of him at 13 with his vintage Star Wars toys.

Clone Wars and Rebels

The next portion of the panel moved into the television side of Star Wars. Warwick introduced, Rebels Executive Producer and Supervising Director, Dave Filoni. They start talking about whether George is a mentor to Dave. Dave talked about George telling him to never be afraid and to always go after ideas. That if you don’t do it someone else will.

When asking George why he would want to bring Star Wars to television. He explained that he had done the Young Indiana Jones as a TV show as a starting point. Using the television side of things gave the opportunity to tell a lot more stories that were inside the universe. On the thoughts of doing something new..

“I would come in, in the morning, and I said we’re going to do this, and this, and this. And their jaws would drop and they’d say oh he’s not really serious. Is he? We can’t do this. I’d say you can do it come on we’ll do it. I pushed them through it. They did it and they came through”

He explained that despite fear of doing things that had never been done before. The crew would always figure out how to get what they wanted. Being able to make feature quality on a television budget. They finished up talking to Dave about why episodic TV was so important for fans. He explained being a fan himself was nice to get them Star Wars all the time and get feedback from the fans on how to get better.

A Jedi and two Sith

We then got a quick video from Liam Neeson talking about how amazing 40 years is. He makes a joke about making a movie about Jar Jar Binks and what happened to him, that Jar Jar did end up going to the dark side.

They then brought Ian McDiarmid (The Emperor) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) on the stage. On being asked about his favorite scene, Ian explained his favorite scene was the Opera scene in Revenge of the Sith. He describes it as having an evil chat. Hayden talked about how well it was to work with Ian, and how it helped him learn a lot. Hayden spoke about having a challenge of not making the light saber sound effect whenever they were filming fight scenes.

He stated after finishing a fight scene, George would come over and say “ Hayden that looks really great, but I can see your mouth moving. You don’t have to do that. We add the sound effects in afterwards. I was just so focused I wasn’t aware I was doing it.”

They spoke about how Ian got the part. That the only explanation he ever got for the part was that it was called “The Emporer of the Universe.” For the prequels he met with George and was asked if he knew if there was anyone that wanted the play the Emporer. He told George that would be me and that was the audition for the prequels.

Some Familiar Faces

Then another video. This time Samuel L Jackson thanking George for everything. He then stated his case that Mace Windu should still be alive and bring him back into the movies.

They then brought out Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Billie Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian).

C-3PO

Anthony talked about how much of a pain it was to get the sculpt for the suit of C-3PO, and that George picked the one C-3PO face that Anthony Daniels didn’t like. George explaining that the face had to be absolutely neutral so that the physical acting would come through.

Anthony spoke of his favorite memory working on the films. Talking about how he was doing the line read through for C-3PO and R2-D2. He would read his line and then there would be nothing. So he asked George if he could give him a noise. To which George said sure and would just say “beep.” To which Anthony decided, he was better on his own. He said many films later they were getting ready to do the Jabba’s Palace scene. He would start saying his C-3PO lines, and behind him, started hearing all types of beeps and boops. George was crouch walking behind him making the R2 sounds, following him along.

Chewbacca

Peter stated that the ways him and Chewie are similar. They are the same height, they have blue eyes, and they can both maintain the Falcon.

“You take 3 plugs out and Drain the oil”

Asked about the special relationship he had with Carrie Fisher. What his favorite memory of her was?

“She’s a hell of a Rebel, but she’s a beautiful princess”

George confirmed that the thought of Chewbacca came from his Alaskan Malamute, Indiana. That there were going to be more Wookies in the film from the beginning but had to cut them out. That’s why they ended up with one Wookie in a starring role.

Lando

Billy Dee discussed how having the opportunity to work with Lucas was like going straight to heaven. Billy Dee explained that there were two components that helped him bring something bigger then life to Lando. The cape and the last name Calrissian, an Arminian name.

Luke Skywalker

They introduced Mark Hamill. He talked about the excitement of dealing with the fans and how the fans are more excepting then his family at home. George was asked why he choice Mark to play Luke? He explained it was a long process but once they got the three of them, {Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford}, together. That the chemistry between them seemed like they had been long time friends. That being the end result. George included a joke that he was also cast, because Mark was shorter then George.  They made some jokes about making Harrison Ford say lines about Nav Computers and that he would never be able to do it. Which lead into the second big surprise of the panel.

Han Solo

Then they brought out Harrison Ford. This is huge. For those that don’t know this is the first time that Harrison has appeared at Celebration. That’s 30+ events and this is the first one. Harrison started with stating the line they said he could never say. He talked about how he told George you can type this stuff but you can’t say it.  Then Warwick threw in a jab.

“I can’t believe. We managed to keep it a secret. Considering you landed your plane on I-4” To which Harrison and the crowd laughed. He responded with “Yeah, but it was a good landing”

Asked about the impact Star Wars has had to him. He jokingly said “It’s made no difference to my life what so ever.” They talked about how the beginning of his career came with George and then he went back to carpentry. That luckily George brought him back for Star Wars and gave them something to celebrate every year. They then spoke about how circumstances made it possible for them to cross paths a second time and get the part of Han Solo. Then more shots at Harrison’s flying.

George said what got him the part was he told Harrison this movie was about spaceships, flying and things, asking “Do you know how to fly?” to which Harrison responded ” Fly? Yeah, land…”

At this point the live streams started having issues. Buffering and what not but they got it taken care of.

Princess Leia

We lost our beloved Princess this last year. Carrie Fisher unfortunately passed and it was heartbreaking to everyone. A touching tribute was given to Carrie. It started with her daughter, Billie Lourd, came out and talked a little about her mother. She said that Carrie use to always say that she didn’t know where Carrie ended and Princess Leia began. They played a video to which there are no words to how fantastic this tribute was. Grab your box of tissues and give it a watch.

John Williams

Right after the tribute. The curtains to the side of the stage peeled back and John Williams was standing there, with an orchestra in front of him. He immediately started orchestrating Leia’s Theme, as a touching end to the tribute. Then we got more Star Wars music from one of/if not the the greatest film composers of all time.

There you have it. Celebration starts off huge and I’m sure as the weekend goes on it will just get better. I tried to give you a nice rendition of what happened. If you would like to see and hear all of the panel you can watch in the video below. Let us know what you thought of the panel and what other things your excited for as the weekend progresses. We will try to bring you more great celebration content.

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