5:49pm PT by Borys Kit
Comic-Con: New 'Star Wars' Behind-the-Scenes Footage Debuts
On Friday, Star Wars returned to Hall H for the first time since 2004.
The panel, led by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams was considered one of the most anticipated events of this year's Con, with hundreds camping out in lines around the San Diego Convention Centre just to get into its cavernous hall.
The panel also debuted a behind-the-scenes reel:
John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac also joined the panel. Dark Side villains from the film, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie, appeared as well. The biggest applause, however, was reserved for the "legacy players" Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, who made his first public appearance since his plane accident.
"Star Wars is 100 percent dependent on the fans in this room and around the world, since 1976," said Kennedy.
Abrams said that episodes IV, V and VI were treated as canon but that the moviemakers did not want to be paralyzed by their myths. "We wanted to tell a story that would make us feel," the director explained, later adding: "The power that has come before is so deep you have to harness it but you can’t be blinded by it."
Still, Abrams said he had a hard time containing his geek glee.
"I sat down with John Williams to show him scenes from a Star Wars movie he hadn’t seen yet," Abrams said. "There is nothing normal about this!"
Abrams was confronted by a blunt question posed by two Asian girls who asked why there aren’t any Asians in the film.
After jokingly answering, “Go Asians,” and saying that if he was casting a Star Wars standalone movie he would cast only Asians, Abrams said diversity is very important in the Star Wars movie especially since the world has changed plenty since the original movies.
"Honestly, we didn’t write the characters to be any color," he said. "We just cast this movie knowing it was important … we wanted the movie to look like the world looks. It was a big consideration."
Kennedy echoed that sentiment: "There is every intention to carry on what J.J. was talking about to every Star Wars film we are doing."
Many newcomers relished talking about their experiences, especially the good guys, Boyega, Ridley and Isaac. On the Dark Side, Driver didn't seem all that talkative, but Gleeson may have tilted too much the other way, as he gave up a movie secret when he casually revealed the name of a base.
"On Starkiller Base ... ," he said, cutting himself short. He then looked at Abrams and asked, "Is that okay?"
Well, by then it was too late. As one of the panelists said, "You can't fire him now."
Christie, who plays a stormtrooper named Captain Phasma, said portraying the first female stormtrooper seen on screen "was more relevant than ever."
Hamill, meanwhile, talked of Star Wars’ far-reaching and personal connection to strangers and how it has affected him.
"It’s very moving to me," he said. "It’s hard to absorb. It’s like an out of body experience … I’ve never taken it for granted.”
The panel hit key points of how the new film used plenty of practical effects without actually mentioning the much-criticized overreliance of CG effects of the prequels. And it avoided having Ford, who has a reputation of being a bit cantankerous when it comes to his iconic role of Han Solo, of weighing down a panel which he famously did when he made his first Con appearance in 2011 in conjunction with Cowboys & Aliens.
In fact, Ford managed to throw in some quips to his old co-stars in jokes about the too-intimate relationship between Luke and Leia, which the audience loved.
But perhaps the biggest move was reserved for the end of the panel, when Abrams and Kennedy invited the entire hall of over 6,500 attendees to walk to a nearby park for a concert of Star Wars music by the San Diego Symphony.
Thousands of attendees were moved in a surprisingly orderly — if slow — fashion. About an hour later, fans had settled in for the concert, sitting on the grass or in seats with free toy lightsabers in hand, listening to the strings and horns of Star Wars. Not a bad way to spend a Friday evening.