Highlights from Star Wars Celebration’s first day

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Droid tinkerers, director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy

The second teaser trailer, obviously! But that was at the very end of the Thursday keynote at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, which was streamed online for those who couldn’t be there, like me. First, we had to meet the new stars, the old stars, the phenomenal new droid, the fan tinkerers who became official Astromech makers for The Force Awakens (pictured above with director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and an interviewer), and a silent squad of stormtroopers in updated armor.

BB-8's moment in the sun

BB-8, the soccar ball-like droid that debuted in last year’s teaser, literally ran circles around R2-D2. It was amazing to watch a practical effect with such a life of its own. It so easily could have been CG by default, but J.J. Abrams’ team took the road less traveled these days, and they found technology to let them be pioneers like the team that would eventually become Industrial Light & Magic after the original Star Wars film.

Daisy Ridley described her character, Rey, as a scavenger living in a desert starship graveyard on the planet Jakku. (NOT Tatooine.)

BB-8 and Rey on Jakku

J.J. Abrams directs Daisy Ridley

Poe Dameron

Oscar Issac described his character, Poe Dameron, as the “best fighter pilot in the galaxy” in a charming, arrogant drawal, who is “sent on a mission by a certain princess.”

The three new heroes: Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega)
The three new heroes: Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega)

Sadly, I didn’t get any real notes on John Boyega, who plays Finn, but I remember that he was coy about whether he’s really a stormtrooper as we saw him in both trailers. And he is one of the biggest Star Wars fans you’ll find, who concealed his casting from his own family until after it was announced to the world!

Finn (John Boyega) on Jakku

Finn (John Boyega) on Jakku

Commenting on Princess Leia’s status as the only female character in the original trilogy, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said there weren’t a lot of choices when it came to icons for girls and women to look up to back then, but “that’s gonna change” and there would be “a lot of wonderful new characters moving forward” that everyone can identify with.

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels were there but were understandably tight-lipped about their characters’ statuses three decades after Return of the Jedi.

The Skywalker ... twins?
The Skywalker … twins?

Fisher, the princess herself, was asked if her distinctive double Danish bun hairstyle would return.

“The buns are, you know, they’re tired now,” she said. But she promised an “alternate thing you’ll be very into … which is NOT the metal bikini!”

We can’t wait.

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Jayson Peters

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