[UPDATED WITH NEWLY RELEASED TEASER TRAILER BELOW!]
As we mentioned earlier today, the annual Star Wars Celebration convention kicks off tonight in Anaheim, California. The four-day event will treat fans to all kinds of panels, announcements and incredibly cool presentations all weekend long. But at 19:00 tonight local time, things will officially get underway with arguably the most important panel of the lot, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy will get the ball(-droid) rolling by unveiling brand new footage from the highly anticipated upcoming seventh Star Wars film.
And you can watch it right here in the embedded video below!
There have already been some revelations slipping out of the event prematurely, as a series of what appears to be posters or promo art for The Force Awakens has shown up online courtesy of Battlefront News. The artwork mainly focuses on mysterious masked villain Kylo Ren, who is rumoured to be played by Adam Driver.
For more info on the scheduled events happening at Star Wars Celebration this weekend, check out our original article from earlier.
[UPDATE!] Whoo hoo! After an hour of absolutely charming chats with the cast and crew (more about them later), Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm President ended the Star Wars Celebration kickoff panel with the unveiling of the brand new teaser trailer! And here it is!
Han! Chewie! DAT CRASHED IMPERIAL STAR DESTROYER! Oh be still my geeky heart!
There’s so much awesomeness in that trailer, from Darth Vader’s crumpled helmet to seeing those old faces at the end to Luke’s Return of the Jedi voice-over detailing his family’s history with the Force. The major takeaways from it are that we still don’t know for sure if Adam Driver is playing the masked villain Kylo Ren (he was completely absent from the panel), and it definitely looks like Daisy Ridley’s Rey will be getting a lightsaber of her own.
But we learned more from the panel itself, when Ridley was brought on stage alongside fellow leads/franchise newcomers Oscar Isaac and John Boyega. Here’s what we know now:
- The desert planet we’ve been seeing this entire time is not Tattooine as some suspected, but rather a new world named Jakku (pronounced juk-koo)
- Ridley introduced her character as Kyra, though interestingly we’ve seen the character described as Rey in other places, so could she have some other identity? As Kyra/Rey though, she lives on Jakku, where she is “a solitary scavenger… until she meets another character and the adventure begins.”
- That other character is Finn, played by John Boyega, and whom we saw in Stormtrooper armour in the opening shot of the first trailer. The young actor played very coy (to hilarious effect) about whether Finn actually is a Stormtrooper or if he’s just dressed as one (although it’s safe to say that he really is). However, he did reveal that Find finds himself in “incredible danger” and it’s how he deals with that danger that kicks off his story “in a very unique way”.
- The other lead is Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, whom the actor proudly described as “the best fricking pilot in the galaxy”. According to Isaac, he’s “been sent on a mission by a certain princess and ends up coming across Finn and their fates are forever intertwined.”
While no further character/story details were revealed, the original cast of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewwbacca) and Anthony Hamilton (C3PO) were also brought on stage alongside a troop of the new look Stormtroopers. Harrison Ford could not attend due to still recovering from the private plane crash he was involved in recently. Most of the banter between the old cast was merely expressing their love and appreciation of the fans for the decades of support they’ve been shown, as Hamill explained
“Thank you. Without the ultra passionate fans, we wouldn’t be here… All my adult life, I’ve felt such love from you. You’re more than just fans, you’re family.”
Fisher was on top witty form though, throwing out one wise crack after another, at one point thanking fans for playing with her (obviously referring to her action figures). She also revealed that “the hair buns are tired now…but I think you’ll have an alternate thing I think you’ll be very into, and it’s not the metal bikini.”
Speaking of Star Wars ladies, Kathleen Kennedy was asked about which female Star Wars character she wished she could be, and took the opportunity to address the initial uproar that arose when the first round of casting was announced and only included a single new female in Daisy Ridley.
“I don’t have many choices. But that’s going to change… Going forward, with all we’re talking about, there are going to be a lot of wonderful new [female] characters.”
We’ve already seen this change happening as later casting added Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie to the principle support cast as well. There roles are yet to be officially revealed.
JJ Abrams also revealed that he initially said no to the offer to direct The Force Awakens due to family commitments and feeling like he had already worked on too many franchise sequels, but after meeting with Kennedy, she convinced him. He also went on to explain how they wanted to recapture the physical, lived-in feel of the original trilogy, and therefore building as many practical sets, props and creatures as possible was the mandate.
“When we started [to explore] what the story would be and how to make it happen, the thing that struck me is just how real you knew and felt ‘Star Wars’ was when you saw ‘A New Hope’. We needed a standard. You want it to be legitimate, you want it to be authentic.”
And out of all those authentic items, easily the most impressive is BB8, the cute new droid that is sure to be the bane of every parent this Christmas. BB8 actually came out on stage, rolling around in a way that can only be described as magical. No, seriously, other than the foulest of black magics, I have no idea how BB8 is even possible. The effect of his motion is incredible!
Okay, where can I buy one? Like, now! Seriously, where?
And finally (phew, this has been a long post!), thanks to The Playlist, we also have all these pics of the cast and crew that were shown up on the screens during the panel.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in cinemas on December 18, 2015.
Last Updated: April 16, 2015