There are less than nine months until Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and we—like literally everyone else in this galaxy not so far, far away—can’t wait. “Star Wars is as much a western and fairytale as anything else,” explained director J.J. Abrams at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. He was joined by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, veteran and new actors, droids, and even storm troopers in a discussion that offered an exclusive peek into the making of the next Star Wars saga. We tuned into the stream and pulled everything we learned from both the panel and the brand new teaser trailer:
1. J.J. Abrams almost declined the opportunity to direct Star Wars. Being a fan since the age of 11, when he saw the first film in theaters, he felt the task was daunting. But, he told the audience, in the end it was impossible to say no.
2. Star Wars VII will take a "retro approach," explains Abrams. The world of George Lucas's films felt tangible, he adds: “There will be endless effects. But we needed to set a standard that was real. That you knew the people were in those places. You want it to be legitimate and authentic.” The team physically built as much of the sets as possible.
3. The desert terrain in the first teaser is not Tatooine as fans have theorized. It is a new planet called Jackoo [Editor's note: we're still waiting to find out the official spelling]. And it's where viewers will first meet the new characters played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.
4. When fans saw John Boyega’s character, Finn, in a Storm Trooper costume in the first trailer, they wondered if he was actually one or just in disguise. Boyega confirmed that Finn is, indeed, a Trooper.
5. Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, who he says is the “best frickin pilot in the galaxy.” Sent on a mission by a “certain princess,” he “comes across Finn and their fates are forever intertwined."
7. One of the things Abrams loved about the original trilogy was the sense that everything was weathered. This visual effect, he explained, heightened that the story was about an underdog facing an enemy much larger. He wanted to replicate that contrast of the “gleaming empire” and the “dusty cantina”—so bring your dust goggles.
8. In response to a question about advice for young filmmakers, Abrams pointed out that now, everyone holds a camera right in the palm of their hand. “The technology has been democratized... The only thing stopping you is you. I can’t wait to see your movies,” he said.
9. “The buns are retired now,” said Carrie Fisher. Yes, Princess Leia will have a new hairdo.
10. J.J. Abrams has never had more fun working on another project. With great power comes enormous responsibility, he explained, especially when it comes to telling a brand new story within a legacy. Luckily, thus far, “The opportunity far outweighs the risk.”
Below, check out some screenshots from today's festivities: