The Star Wars Celebration has kicked off in major style, with a panel to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise. Hosted by Warwick Davis, the panel was said to look at the past, present and future of Star Wars, but in actuality, it mainly focused on the past. That was perfectly acceptable, though, because so many Star Wars fan favorites put in an appearance to help mark the occasion.
First up was George Lucas, in a surprise appearance. He talked candidly about how Star Wars came about, explaining how he originally only had a vague plan for “some kind of space opera.” Fox decided to take a chance on his idea, and so Star Wars was born. Teasing fans, Lucas also added that Star Wars “is for 12 year-olds,” before clarifying that his initial outlook was that Star Wars: A New Hope, would be aimed at kids who were preparing to head out into the big wide world:
“It’s about friendships, honesty, trust, doing the right thing. Living on the light side, avoiding the dark side.”
He makes a valid point, but it is arguably these themes, that have been present throughout the breadth of the Star Wars universe, that have kept fans of all ages coming back for more.
One such fan, is Davis, who took time to read out an adorable letter that he had written to Lucas as an 11 year-old, to thank him for casting him as an Ewok in Star Wars. Lucas had responded by sending him a set of Star Wars action figures.
Samuel L. Jackson also showed up via video, campaigning for his character, Mace Windu, to return to the franchise. Ever since the end of Revenge of the Sith, Jackson has made public his desire to return to the franchise in some capacity, insisting that his character survived the brutal events that lead to his death (he had his limbs cut off first). While Jackson was only joking, it would be quite fantastic to see him back; he had a purple lightsaber, after all.
Everyone’s favorite Wookiee and Droid, Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels, respectively, also showed up to speak on the panel, along with Billy Dee Williams, who revealed that his character, Lando Clarissian, isn’t in Star Wars: Epsiode VIII- The Last Jedi. Hayden Christensen was also in attendance; his first time at any Star Wars celebration.
Perhaps the best moment came, though, when Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, joined Lucas and Mark Hamill on stage. It is the first time that Ford has been to Star Wars Celebration, and the crowd went wild. Ford was full of good humor, telling the audience how he came to be cast in Star Wars and joking about his recent plane crash. He also praised Lucas for his storytelling:
“You can have the best cast in the world, but they have a story to tell. The story we have was more than sufficient; full of humor and emotion and conflict. It’s a brilliant invention of a mythology that has sustained interest for 40 years.”
Finally, the celebration panel paid touching tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, with Lucas and LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy bringing Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd onto the stage. Lourd had a small part on screen with her mother in The Force Awakens, and will reprise this role in The Last Jedi, and Star Wars Episode IX, both of which will also feature Fisher as General Leia Organa. In a video compilation of Fisher’s work across the Star Wars movies, we also got our first look at Leia in The Last Jedi. With all this just coming from the first full day of the celebration, what could be in store tomorrow, when The Last Jedi panel takes place?
You can watch the full panel below: