Simon Columb reports from the UK press conference for Star Wars: The Force Awakens…
It’s early on December 17th and the Corinthia Hotel, seconds away from the Thames River running through central London, is the location of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens press conference. Those core fans are probably only waking up now after attending the midnight screenings, slowly making sense of the new entry in the saga. After a busy premiere last night, there’s no rest for the cast and crew though, and they are out in full force continuing the publicity. Moderated by Empire magazine’s Ali Plumb, director J.J. Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan are joined by cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Daisy Ridley, Gwendoline Christie and, eventually, John Boyega – strolling in late after, one would assume, a heavy night before.
They’re happy and full of positivity. The reviews have come in and it’s all good. It seems as if almost everyone is pleased. Wearing white, Daisy Ridley is all smiles while it’s Lupita Nyong’o who looks incredible in a smart, red dress. Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and J.J. Abrams, in sharp suits, are in stark contrast to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, looking more relaxed having gone through this many times before.
To kick things off, each panel member uses one word to describe Star Wars – “hopeful” and “adventure” come up, before Carrie Fisher, wisely states “family”. The ongoing story of the Skywalker strain is surely the clearest connection, something Abrams later builds upon by noting how it’s always been about “inclusivity” and “connection”. The very idea, as many families will over the weekend, of “coming together” is what Star Wars is all about.
After working with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford commends J.J. Abrams for “giving as much” as he has “but also, the human kindness that J.J. [brought] to the set each day”. He had an “infectious excitement” and “loved making the movie”. Abrams, when talking about the film notes how four columns of special effects crew, who had sleepless nights, were involved. It was “extraordinary”.
John Boyega, on the other hand, is still acclimatising to the publicity that surrounds his lead role in a Star Wars film. Boyega admits how he finds it “weird”, especially seeing himself and Daisy Ridley plastered all over Tokyo before the “two Londoners” even visited the city. Ridley herself is keen to see herself on a bus, as I’m sure we all aspire to be one day (film critics included).
It is clear that, though Harrison Ford wants “nothing to do with it [the Han Solo movie]”, everyone is proud of their achievement. Let’s be honest – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was not met with such warmth. While Christie celebrates the unsexualised armour of Phasma and a multi-cultural panel of three male and three female cast members answer questions, it is clear that there is more that good filmmaking behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What will become the biggest-grossing film of all-time, with positive reviews from all quarters to boot, will hopefully ‘awaken’ the Hollywood industry to filmmaking that invites everyone to take part.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set for release on December 17th in the UK and December 18th in the States and sees J.J. Abrams directing returning stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), in addition to Adam Driver (Girls), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year), Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Ken Leung (Lost), Miltos Yerolemou (Game of Thrones), Max von Sydow (The Exorcist), Jessica Henwick (Spirit Warriors), Christina Chong (24: Live Another Day), Simon Pegg (Star Trek) and newcomers Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen.