A behind-the-scenes look at J.J. Abrams’s new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

By on July 11, 2015

Yesterday, Friday July 10th, at San Diego’s Comic-Con, attendees gathered in Hall H got a chance to see this three-minute forty-three second video which is packed with behind-the-scenes footage from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie (that’d be Episode VII if you’re keeping score) which arrives in theaters on December 18th.

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The panel featured director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and whole passel of actors from the forthcoming film: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie and the original trilogy from Star Wars: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, making his first public appearance since his plane accident last March.

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The sneak preview began, as you see here in the vid, with a montage of all the different sets constructed for the film, followed by R2-D2, stormtroopers, a downed TIE Fighter, plus new characters and familiar faces, including a snippet of director Abrams addressing the cast and crew on the first day of shooting. The new film looks like Abrams is going to great lengths to assure fans that The Force Awakens will strive to capture that “pre-digital” magic.

The video shows elaborate sets, spaceships and costumes being built, a sign that the next three episodes will be more visually aligned with the first three Star Wars movies.

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“Real sets. Practical effects. You’ve been here, but you don’t know this story,” Mark Hamill says in the video. “Nothing’s changed, really. I mean, everything’s changed, but nothing’s changed. That’s the way you want it to be.”

When asked “Where did the actors think their characters would have ended up before The Force Awakens told them?,” Hamill said he expected Luke to live like Obi-Wan Kenobi, off on “in some igloo in the desert with no human contests, just droids.” He said he imagines Luke was distressed to learn the only woman he fell for turned out to be his sister. “That must have been quite the traumatic experience, you know, because we were both after her.”

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Panel moderator Chris Hardwick asked Carrie Fisher what it had been like to return to the franchise, about which she’s been ambivalent in the past. “It was like a flashback, kind of,” Fisher said. “I thought, ‘They were right about the acid flashbacks’. I didn’t think that it was going to happen again. I had to check and see if it was just me. It was a little bit like before,” she said of returning to the set with Ford, Hamill, and Peter Mayhew, “only we looked melted this time. But in a good way – kind of Force-melted.”

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After the panel, Abrams and Kennedy then invited the entire hall of over 6,500 attendees to walk to a nearby park for a concert of Star Wars music by the San Diego Symphony performing selections from John Williams’ previous Star Wars compositions.

Oh, and every fan was given a plastic, glowing lightsaber.

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Collider grabbed about 100 images from the video.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.