The Star Wars Comic-Con Panel Blew Fans' Minds

Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images.

How does a Star Wars fan, who has camped out for days for a seat at the coveted LucasFilm presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, emotionally prepare for the surprise arrival of Harrison Ford? Trick question: She cannot.

In fact, the Lucas Film presentation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filled with many surprises on Friday. Director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan were joined onstage by original cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Ford, plus Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Gwendoline Christie.

Attendees got to see an exclusive behind-the-scenes reel (below) for the forthcoming installment. It drives home the message that the new movie is going back to its Star Wars roots, eschewing CG effects for animatronic creatures and droids, and it offers a peek into the sets and costumes. There won't be an official trailer until the fall.

Fans also got a taste of what they can expect from the story itself. "You've been here, but you don't know this story," Mark Hamill, who returns as Luke Skywalker, said in the reel. "Everything's changed, but nothing's changed."
This is where the juicy stuff started happening. The clip showed Simon Pegg in what looks like an alien costume. Driver, Gleeson, and Christie were revealed to be playing villains. Christie, known as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, talked about playing a different sort of warrior: a Stormtrooper leader called Captain Phasma. "I found it exciting that underneath that armor was a woman," she said. "I think it makes it more relevant than ever."

After Abrams showed the reel, Ford took the stage. He told the crowd it "felt great" to be back in the Star Wars franchise. "I never thought it would come back," he said. "I never thought we'd do another one."

Then, Abrams announced that every single attendee was invited to a special Star Wars concert at the Embarcadero, where the San Diego Symphony would play John Williams' iconic score. More than 6,500 fans made their way to the show.

More from Movies