LOS ANGELES (AP) — The cast and filmmakers of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted a new behind-the-scenes reel and teased some new information Friday at Comic-Con about the highly secretive film to a rapturous Hall H audience.
Filmmaker J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy were eventually joined on stage by “Star Wars” veterans and “Force Awakens” stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
Ford, making his first public appearance since his plane crash in March left him hospitalized and injured, assured the audience and host Chris Hardwick that he was fine. The already excitable crowd exploded when Ford, the last to be introduced, walked out.
Seated next to Hamill, the gruff Ford was not hesitant to talk about his reluctance to revisit the world of “Star Wars” and the character of Han Solo.
“It should have felt ridiculous, it was 30 years ago,” Ford said. “I sort of grew up.”
He never thought that he’d do another film after the original trilogy.
“I was very gratified when I read the script because I read something that I thought was really remarkable, really well-written and with some very intriguing developments,” Ford said. “I was delighted to be involved and I was very happy to be part of the story and the cast again.”
“The Force Awakens,” which hits theaters on Dec. 18, picks up about 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.”
Before fans were treated to the “Star Wars” veterans, they were introduced to the newcomers on the light side of the force and, for the first time, those on the dark side.
Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and Domhnall Gleeson were on hand representing the bad guys. As the mysterious three-pronged lightsaber-wielding Kylo Ren, Driver tried to skirt any questions about his character.
When pressed, he talked vaguely about the philosophy of evil.
“We didn’t really have a lot of conversations about bad or evil when we were shooting it,” said Driver. “It was more the difference between being bad and being right.”
Gleeson, whose character’s name was revealed to be General Hux, didn’t hesitate to say that he was evil. While talking about getting the role, Gleeson accidentally “spoiled” the name of his command station, much to the dismay of Abrams.
It’s “Starkiller Base.”
Christie, who plays the chrome stormtrooper Captain Phasma, talked about how neat it was to be playing a character in full costume who is “not about the way she looks in the flesh.”
Representing the light side of the force were Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, who had spoken previously about their roles at the annual Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim.
Though not much else was gleaned about Ridley’s scavenger Rey, Boyega’s stormtrooper Finn or Isaac’s X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, all offered anecdotes about their time on set.
To prepare for his role, Isaac asked Ford for some advice about piloting in “Star Wars.”
Ford just said, “It’s fake.”
There was no new footage to be seen. Abrams is currently editing the film and has a cut, but wants to keep tweaking to make it the film “it wants to be.” He also said another trailer will come out in the fall.
But Abrams did debut a behind-the-scenes reel that was made available online shortly after the panel concluded.
In addition to interviews with Hamill, Ridley and others, it focused on the practical effects used in the film — a recurring theme in all of Abrams’ comments about the film, which hopes to re-create the aesthetic of the original trilogy.
“Everything’s changed but nothing’s changed,” said Hamill in the clip. “That’s the way you want it to be.”
Not to be outdone, Abrams and Kennedy, who had already treated the ravenous Hall H fans to coffee and doughnuts before the panel started, announced that there was one more surprise: An imminent “Star Wars” concert at an adjacent stage. All 6,500 Hall H attendees were invited.
And their escorts?
Stormtroopers, of course.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr
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