This year at San Diego Comic-Con, the much-anticipated "Star Wars" Lucasfilm panel brought down the house just like Luke Skywalker brought down the Empire! Except, you know, Comic-Con isn't an evil dictatorship as much as it is a celebration of nerdiness and joy. Either way, expect a lot of dancing ewoks.
Today (July 10),"The Force Awakens" director/Comic-Con donut champion J.J. Abrams hit up the ridiculously-packed Hall H with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, original trilogy producer Lawrence Kasdan, and some "special guests" from the franchise -- namely John Boyega, Daisey Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domnhall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.
If you haven't been waiting in line around the San Diego convention center since Wednesday and missed out on this awesome fangasm of "Star Wars" wonderfulness, here are the highlights:
The fans are the real stars.Getty Images
“I think a lot of people out there know that 'Star Wars' is 100 percent dependent upon the fans in this room and around the world, since 1976,” Kathleen Kennedy said. “It was really the fans that built the momentum around the release of 'New Hope,' so we are right back in full circle and want to say thank you to all of you.”
A cut of the movie does exist.
Right now they’re editing and “doing fine tuning,” Abrams said. In this industry most movies have release dates before they have scripts, he told the crowd. He’s thankful that Disney gave “The Force Awakens” the time to do it right.
Yes, there are real practical creatures!
Remember the Unicef video Abrams shot early into filming? Not only is the creature who appeared in that video a real creation by Neil Skagland – Baba Joe, the team nicknamed him – but he actually appeared on the Hall H stage himself in all his slow-moving, nose-wiggling glory. “It gives the actors in scene things to actually deal with, interact with, respond to,” Abrams said.
Their only mandate in creating the new trilogy, Abrams said, was this: “What delights us?” It doesn’t always have to be lighthearted, but it has to be compelling, he added. “We wanted to tell a story that would make us feel.”
They’re committed to continuing the legacy of “Star Wars.”
Being a fan isn’t enough, Abrams said. You also have to be able to tell a story. “When you’re directing a scene on the Millennium Falcon, it doesn’t make the scene GOOD.” Which means that yes, we ARE going to see the inside of the Millennium Falcon again!
There was a little bit of new footage!
While they weren’t ready to show a brand new trailer, Abrams did bring with us an amazing, emotional behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the movie is being made (which made moderator Chris Hardwick cry!) along with some never-before-seen footage. Among those details included a broken down TIE fighter, Oscar Isaac being led away by First Order stormtroopers, Simon Pegg on the set in what looked like a practical creature suit, Peter Mayhew being fitted for his Chewb, Rey in the gunner seat of the Millennium Falcon and sitting at the cockpit with Han Solo.
John Boyega got to walk the floor in disguise.
He put on a stormtrooper helmet and blended in to the crowd, as so many celebs before him have done. Maybe you saw him!
The stunt team was incredible.
That teaser scene where Boyega and Daisy Ridley are running from an explosion? That’s all real – and so are the explosions. Boyega’s definitely not bitter about having to wear a stormtrooper outfit in 100 degree heat. Nope. Not at all.
Even the new "Star Wars" characters themselves are fans.
“These characters, they lived those stories that we all grew up with,” Oscar Isaac said. “Poe was probably there on Yavin when the medal ceremony was happening,” and that’s what drives him to be a hero.
Are there Asians in "Star Wars?"Getty Images
Yes, J.J. Abrams said while responding to an audience question, although he wouldn’t say much more than that except that they deliberately looked for diverse actors when casting "The Force Awakens." “We wanted the movie to look the way the world looks,” he said, noting the importance of representation in film.
The Dark Side is strong.
After months of speculation and rumors, we can finally pin down who Domnhall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie are playing -- "General Hux" and "Captain Phasma." And yes, Phasma IS the silver stormtrooper from the teaser trailer!! She's just as excited as you are about the idea of a female stormtrooper, believe us. "I think that makes it more relevant than ever," she said.
Driver couldn't talk much about his character, Kylo Ren, but noted that he doesn't think that he's "evil" -- just that he's morally justified in behaving a certain way.
"I am evil," Domnhall Gleeson joked, also accidentally spoiling that he runs the First Order base, called the Starkiller. "He's British, so yeah. Evil."
What's it like for the legacy cast to be back?
"It felt like we picked up where we left off, but we left off a while ago," Carrie Fisher said, saying it was strange for the legacy trio to both be in the new movie and observe it happening at the same time. "We were more grown up this time," she said of their characters.
"It should have felt ridiculous," Harrison Ford said. "I will tell you that it felt great."
"I was just glad I didn't have to go to Toshe Station and pick up any power converters," Hamill joked, and the entire returning cast joked about the dialogue from the original that was too hard to say.
Mark Hamill is still traumatized by the love triangle.
Before the new movie, Hamill always imagined that Luke would be a hermit like Obi Wan Kenobi, still reeling over the revelation that he was totally in love with his own sister -- and then didn't even actually get her to like him back in the first place.
"How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?" Ford joked.
And then a crazy thing happened.
The entire panel at Hall H didn't just end there -- we were all instructed to go to a second location to watch a LIVE "Star Wars" concert! Stay tuned for more!
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hits theaters December 18, 2015.