Comic-Con: Watch cool STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS behind the scenes clip; plus panel recap

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[UPDATE: The video for the full panel has been made available online and I’ve added it below]

It was already known for more than a week now that the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel that took place in Comic-Con’s vaunted Hall H last night would not be showing a new trailer for the new film. And during the panel, other than some small character details, there were no major reveals by Lucasfilm President/ Kathleen Kennedy, director JJ Abrams and their cast. But the panel was still anything but disappointing, as the cast turned in a very engaging back and forth discussion, and Abrams impressed the bantha poodoo out of everyone in attendance by surprising them with a nearly 4-minute long behind the scenes video.

Luckily, Disney and Lucasfilm have decided that they also want to impress the unlucky folks like us who couldn’t actually be at Comic-Con, and have put the clip online for everybody to see.

How cool was that?! And this confirms that Simon Pegg will indeed be in the movie, but based on the costume and makeup he was wearing, it doesn’t look like he will be that easy to spot. And speaking of makeup, did you notice how many practical effects there were, both for the sets and the alien creatures? Abrams and co are really looking to nail that more physical feel that the Original Trilogy had, instead of the video game-like over-abundance of CG in the Prequel Trilogy.

As for the panel itself, the only “major revelation” was panel moderator Chris Hardwick officially introducing the film’s Dark Side actors and their respective characters: Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma and Domhnall Gleeson, whose character name was finally confirmed as General Hux.

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Gleeson also accidentally let drop during the panel that the First Order – that’s the new name for the Empire – and subsequently his character run their operations from what’s known as Starkiller Base. Besides for just sounding evil, that’s a very nice nod back to “Luke Starkiller”, the name used in George Lucas’ early draft for the original film.

[UPDATE: Here’s the full 1-hour long panel video. Article continues as per normal after that]

The rest of the panel was purely fan service as Abrams and his primary cast – John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill –  joined by legendary co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, bantered back and forth as they revealed their feelings on the franchise as well as engaged the equally enthusiastic audience. Collider was in attendance and has a great recap of everything, but here are the best bits.

  • Abrams revealed they have a cut of the movie and they’re currently editing, in “an extraordinary moment where we’re fine-tuning.” He stressed that he was happy that Disney gave them the time to do it right and tinker with the film, taking their time instead of chasing a release date.
  • Kasdan on Abrams: “I thought he was the funniest, most talented, most perfect choice for this movie. And then he and I spent an entire year walking around, figuring it out, [writing the script].”

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  • Abrams on the experience of making a Star Wars movie: “There is nothing normal about getting to write a movie with Lawrence Kasdan… I’ve sat down with John Williams to show him scenes from a Star Wars movie that he hadn’t seen yet. There’s nothing normal [about this].”
  • Abrams on the experience of making a Star Wars movie: “There is nothing normal about getting to write a movie with Lawrence Kasdan… I’ve sat down with John Williams to show him scenes from a Star Wars movie that he hadn’t seen yet. There’s nothing normal [about this].”
Read  "Expect some slowdown" on Disney's release schedule for Star Wars movies

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  • Isaac says [his character] Poe Dameron takes on the legacy of Han and Luke as a fighter pilot. “Poe was watching on Yarvin when the medal ceremony was happening and saying, ‘I wanna be that.’”
  • Was Isaac given advice on his piloting? “As an excited eager actor I wanted to talk to Harrison Ford about piloting, and he said, “Um, it’s fake. And also it’s in space so the same stuff doesn’t apply.”
  • On Kylo Ren, Driver was very tight-lipped but said, “We didn’t really have a lot of conversations about bad or evil, actually, when we were shooting it. It was more what do you think the difference between being bad and being right?… Thinking their right is almost more evil. A group of people who have decided that they’re morally justified in behaving a certain way.”
  • On the character of Captain Hux, Gleeson was asked if his character is flat-out evil, to which he replied, “He’s British, so yeah.” He looks like a very uptight, “commander” type in costume. No facial hair, slicked back head of hair.

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  • Speaking about Captain Phasma, Christie said, “I found it not only exciting that there was a female Stormtrooper, but it was the opportunity to explore a female character that is totally not about the way she looks in flesh. That armor is the exterior, and it’s more about the outside feeding in.”
  • What was the feeling of coming back on set? Fischer replied, “It was like a flashback. I thought, ‘They were right about the acid flashbacks,” to plenty of laughter. “I always said it was a little like before, but we looked more melted.”
  • On the burden of legacy, Abrams said, “The only answer I can say is because we love it and we care about it so much, our job is to not be blinded by that. You can just be a fan and say you’re gonna make a movie because you’re a fan… When you’re directing a scene on the Millennium Falcon, it doesn’t make it good. It’s bitchin’ because it’s on the Millennium Falcon, but it doesn’t make it good.” Abrams stressed the importance of story and character, saying it was a constant thing trying to ensure that they weren’t blinded by their deep connection to the franchise.

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  • On transmedia and marketing The Force Awakens as a piece of IP Abrams said, “If we thought of it as an IP, it would be a very different film.” He stressed the importance of story and staying true to the film through all the things they “have” to do, like marketing.
  • Isaac: “My greatest memory was taking Harrison Ford to a Nigerian restaurant in London… This guy comes up to him and goes, ‘Are you Harrison Ford?’ and he goes, ‘I used to be.’”

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  • Hamill addressed the fact that Luke fell in love with his sister: “We all laugh about it, but when you follow it through it must’ve been quite a traumatic experience. We were both after her,” to which Ford replied, “How many times can I say I’m sorry?”
  • Abrams concluded the panel with one final surprise: he set up a Star Wars concert in San Diego for which everyone in the audience would be able to attend. The kicker? The entirety of Hall H would walk over to the concert together, not dissimilar from how Edgar Wright announced a surprise screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a few years ago and walked the fans over personally. The leader of the walk was Kevin, a man who put on a stormtrooper costume and walked 600 miles to Comic-Con to honor his late wife.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.

(Pics via JoBlo, EW, Collider)

Last Updated: July 11, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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