Fans got more than they expected from the Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens panel yesterday, which officially launched the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. While director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy were expected to appear, what was not expected was the appearance of three of the film’s new cast members, and four of the franchise’s most beloved returning actors.

Joining Abrams and Kennedy on stage, along with over a dozen Storm Troopers, R2-D2, and new droid BB-8, were Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, as well as original trilogy legends Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels. The new actors shed a little light on their mysterious characters, while the returning actors discussed reprising their legendary roles and their appreciation for the fans.

Ridley began by describing where her character (Rey) is when the movie begins. “(She’s) on the desert planet Jakku,” Ridley revealed. “She is a scavenger in a ship graveyard. She is completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself until she meets another character.”

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L-R: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac


Based on the original teaser trailer, we can assume that the character Rey meets is Finn, played by John Boyega. The British actor revealed what is happening to his character when ‘The Force Awakens’ begins. “When we find Finn he is incredible danger and the way that he decides to react to this danger changes his life and introduces him into the Star Wars universe in a very unique way.”

When asked to describe Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac answered, “He is the best freaking pilot in the galaxy!” The actor continued, “He is sent on a mission by a certain Princess. He ends up coming across John Boyega’s character and their fates will forever intertwine.”

Peter Mayhew, the actor responsible for Chewbacca, talked about returning to the franchise for ‘The Force Awakens.’  “It’s nice to get back to the fur suit so no matter where in the world I go, I’ll be comfortable. Also, I’m so pleased to be associated with these guys. I hope everyone will enjoy the new film.”

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Peter Mayhew takes the stage with Mark Hamill


Actress Carrie Fisher was asked if we should expect to see Princess Leia wearing her signature double hair buns in the upcoming film. “The buns are retired now,” she joked. “But there is an alternate thing that you will like, which is not the metal bikini.” When the original Star Wars films were made, Leia was pretty much the only female character in the first trilogy. So Fisher was asked how she feels about having more female characters in the new movie. “It was nice (to be the only woman in the original cast) when I was nineteen, but now I need some backup.”

Anthony Daniels, best known as C3PO, is the only Star Wars actor to appear in every feature film and he discussed his admiration for the fans. “It’s been 40 years since I first met George Lucas and I very quickly became part of the team. None of us thought that any of you people would come to see ‘Star Wars.’ From the beginning this stayed with us all the way. It’s extraordinary and now more people are joining in the fun because there are now three generations enjoying this story. C3PO and myself have survived six films and I think it is safe to say that in the future, we will be there.

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Anthony Daniels, director JJ Abrams and R2-D2


Luke Skywalker himself (Mark Hamill) also shared his heartfelt appreciation for the fans admiration. “I have a single message to everyone in this room and watching around the world. Thank you. If it were not for you then we would not be here. It never ceases to amaze me. I’m so grateful for your support, your enthusiasm and your passion. My entire adult life I have felt so much love from you. You are more than just fans, you’re family.

Finally, Fisher reiterated Hamill’s sentiments in her own unique way. “You grew up with us, so it’s an amazing thing to be a part of your childhood and a toy at the same time. So thank you for playing with me.”

Don’t forget to check out:

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New Episode VII Teaser Poster


Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens opens in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.