Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 Kicks off with 40 Years of Star Wars

Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 kicked off  in Orlando in grand fashion with the 40 Years of Star Wars Panel. Hosted by Warwick Davis aka Wicket the Ewok, the panel began with him introducing Kathleen Kennedy who said, “You’ll be pleased with what we’ll have for you today, and for those who were around in 1977, it’s truly going to be an awesome celebration.” She then proceeded to introduce Star Wars creator George Lucas to the crowd.

Lucas shared about how Star Wars came about with 20th Century Fox chief Alan Ladd, Jr. seeing American Graffiti and then becoming such a fan of Lucas that Star Wars happened. The rest is history. He also shared that Star Wars really was made for 12 year olds. “It was designed to be a film with a mythology: This is what we stand for, you’re about to enter the real world, you’re probably scared here’s what you should pay attention to…living on the light side, avoiding the dark side. Those are the things that it was meant to do.”

Following Lucas’ stories about the craziness of trying to shoot the prequels when Star Wars had become so popular, a special video was presented that had Liam Neeson aka Qui-Gonn Jinn on it. He teased that he was in Canada shooting a Jar Jar Binks movie where Jar Jar goes to the dark side.

Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen came to the stage following the video and shared about some of their experiences. McDiarmid shared that his favorite scene to shoot was where Palpatine shared with Anakin the possibilities of the dark side while they watched opera. You remember the scene “not from a Jedi…” This was followed by Dave Filoni coming to the stage and sharing about his vision for working on Star Wars and then taking Star Wars from the big screen to the small screen in animated form, most recently with Star Wars Rebels. Another video was shown with Samuel Jackson aka Mace Windu insisting that his character is not dead and that Star Wars characters always return with appendages… he does have a point.

Mark Hamill then joined the stage where Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando) already were. The crowd was very enthusiastic at this point. Lucas then shared about casting Luke, Leia, and Han. It was quite the process and took a year to find Luke Skywalker. There were several actors in contention and basically it all came down to chemistry. There would test these various actors with each other and finally Hamill was the one that clicked. Lucas also made a joke that Hamill was also shorter than him so that helped too. During this segment George Lucas also shared about Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2. Chewbacca was inspired by Lucas’ dog Indiana who would ride shotgun in his car. Lucas commented on the fact that Indiana was bigger than him in the car and he loved that Pilot/Co-Pilot image. Daniels received his role because of his miming abilities which meant he could act with movement over facial expressions. Daniels shared that one of his favorite Star Wars filming moments came while filming Return of the Jedi. George Lucas was pretending to be R2-D2 in the middle of Death Valley in front of Jabba’s Palace. Yes, George Lucas was apparently even doing the sound effects.

Harrison Ford joined the discussion and the story was told how he went from carpenter to movie star while working at Zoetrope while George Lucas was meeting Richard Dreyfus. This led to the collaboration between Ford and Lucas that literally changed the movie galaxy. “He got the part because in the end I asked him, this is about spaceships and flying and stuff like that, I said ‘Do you know how to fly?’” shared Lucas. “I said, fly, yeah. Land?” said Ford which garnered an enthusiastic response.

Next came the subject that is on everyone’s heart this weekend: Carrie Fisher. “We can’t celebrate without our beloved princess,” Davis shared as the discussion about the first lady of Star Wars. George Lucas then led a heart felt tribute to Fisher. “She wasn’t just an actress with guys’ clothes on and she becomes a hero. She was a princess, a senator, and she played a part that was very smart, and she had to hold her own against tow big lugs, two big goofballs,” said Lucas.

On Fisher’s casting Lucas said, “I wanted someone young to play the part. When Carrie was the character, she was very smart, very bold, very thoughtful..There really wasn’t much of a question. There aren’t that many people like her. There’s one in a billion.”

On Princess Leia herself Lucas shared that “She was the boss, it was her war.”

Fisher’s daughter Billy Lourd then came to the stage to continue the tribute. She said, “My mom used to always say she didn’t know where Princess Leia ended, and where Carrie Fisher began.” This was accompanied with a beautiful video of Fisher. Lourd shared how her mother always remembered all her lines and how that showed on the set of The Force Awakens. Fisher’s physical presence will be missed this weekend (and beyond) but she is very much at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017.

The panel wrapped up with a performance by John Williams and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra playing Leia’s Theme. They then continued on to play the Star Wars main title theme followed by The Imperial March. This was a fantastic ending to this panel and kicked off Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 in grand fashion.

Stay tuned to DAPs Magic for continued updates on Star Wars Celebration throughout the weekend! Subscribe to our newsletter (on the right column) as well to make sure and not miss anything!


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