Star Wars: The Force Awakens Press Event held in a secret location in Los Angeles, provided an incredible opportunity to enjoy an array of Star Wars activities, character meets and delicious food and desserts. But the moment we were all waiting for was just minutes away. Meeting the stars of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Taking our seats in a standing room only area, we finally heard our host moderator, Mindy Kaling introduce the first group which included:
- Carrie Fisher (“Leia”)
- JJ Abrams (Director/Producer)
- Daisy Ridley (“Rey”)
- Adam Driver (“Kylo Ren”)
- Lupita Nyong’o (“Maz Kanata”)
- Lawrence Kasdan (Screenplay By)
After a very loud and warm welcome from the crowd the Q and A began with Mindy asking J.J. Abrams, if he was already so “rich” what was the reason for taking on the project? Abrams responded that he felt “incredibly lucky” to be asked to be a part of the project and did not consider it a job at all. “I do honestly feel honored to be a part of this group.”
Carrie Fisher was up next with the question from Mindy asking if she felt that Princess Leia had the same good sense of humor that Carrie had? Ms. Fisher’s response was hilarious in that she commented about the hairpieces and the “baboon” type hairstyle saying Princess Leia had to have a sense of humor to sport that look.
Adam Driver was up next when Mindy asked about his character, Kylo Ren. Mindy said that although she had not see the film yet, Kylo Ren seemed focused and obsessed. Driver talked about the great job J.J. and Larry (Lawrence Kasdan, Screenwriter) did in adding a bit of recklessness to the character that is not common in the villains and the dark side.
Lawrence Kasdan chimed in saying there has never been a character like Kylo Ren in the saga. He (Kylo Ren) doesn’t have it together yet and Adam does a great job with the contradictions and conflict.
Lupita Nyong’o talked about her role as a former space pirate who is now runs a bar. Mindy said it reminded her of a female Sam Malone and jokingly asked if that meant that Yoda was the Norm? But moved on to ask the real question. What is the relationship between Maz Kanata and Yoda? Lupita replied “He was my first love”, but according to J.J. Abrams their paths do not cross in this film. Abrams continued discussing Lupita’s character and praised her on her willingness and committment to continuously working on how to better tell the story with her character.
Daisy Ridley‘s question was unexpected for me. Mindy asked if she had a walk up song and what would it be. (Athletics have a walk-up song when entering the arena to pump them up). Daily said she actually did have a walk up song and it was “I’ll make a man out of you” from Mulan which Daisy played in her trailer before going out to film.
Finally it was our turn for questions and the first one went to J.J. Abrams. ” what was the most important thing to bring to The Force Awakens from the original trilogy, to you?” Mr. Abrams responded that at the beginning in discussions with Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan, the question was what did we want to feel and what did we want the audience to feel when they came to see the film? The response was a kind of sense of discovery, exhilaration and surprise.
Daisy and Carrie were asked about bringing in the girl power to The Force like in the original trilogy. Carrie confirmed she was the beginning of the girl power. She was the only “girl in an all boy set” Carrie enjoyed the power to boss all the men around but said that Daisy brough more physical power, where Carrie engaged in more yelling and screaming at the men. Daisy talked about Princess Leia and Carrie being an inspiration to girls and hoped that one day Rey would also be a girl power figure. Daisy commented that with Carrie, Lupita and Kathleen Kennedy there was a wonderful cast and crew of women involved in the film.
Asked about Abrams custom to keep his films secretive, he was asked if it was difficult to release some of the footage. J.J. responded saying that he realized that Lucasfilm had a unique engagement with fans and that he would have to work hard trying to keep the surprise but also keep fans happy. But it turned out that it was Disney who did not want to release too much.
One of my favorite questions asked of Mr. Abrams was “Since the original trilogy we’ve sent probes to lots of the planets in our solar system and we’ve discovered hundreds of new extra-solar planets. Did anything we’ve learned from science make its way into the design of planets in this movie?”
J.J. Abrams response was classic “NO”.
Asked about the story and whether Lawrence and J.J. referred to the countless books written about the Star Wars Universe, their response was this is #7 and we wanted to tell the story that interested and delighted us without parameters.
Question for the cast was asked about whether there were any surprises or did the film live up to their expectations? Adam Driver gave a great response in saying that it’s still called Star Wars and that even 30 years later it’s the same things going on, like life. same and different people in and out and things change but things also stay the same.
Another good question was about the names of the characters which have always been unique. What process was used to come up with new character names? Kasdan responded saying the process was easy. Do we like it? Does it sound good to say it? BB-8 was the name from the beginning. Finn, Rey and Poe had a few different changes, Kylo Ren was Kylo Ren from early on.
Adam Driver was asked about the legacy he will carry forward with Kylo Ren, to which Adam replied saying “Well, I think a lot of it’s beyond my control, I would say.” ” … I remember early on we – not think of him being bad or evil or a villain and try to make something that was more three-dimensional, ‘cause that to me, when we were talking originally, seemed more dangerous and more unpredictable, someone who feels morally justified in doing whatever they need to publicly kind of state that what they’re doing is right seems kind of something more active to play than just being evil for the sake of it.”
One popular question that always comes up at the press events is the end credits and Easter eggs or extra scenes. J.J. Abrams confirmed there would not be any in the film since all the scenes are actually in the film.
Costumes was another great question and the most difficult one according to Abrams was Kylo Ren. The costume went through hundreds or even thousands of iterations and different versions by costume designer, Michael Kaplan.
The final question of the session went to Carrie Fisher, whose dog Gary is a celebrity and constant companion. She was asked if her dog, Gary would be in the film. Sadly, J.J. Abrams is not fond of animals and did not include Gary in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. Maybe the next film, Gary!
Don’t miss Part 3 of the press conference onnext week.