Fans who camped outside the San Diego Convention Center were treated to a behind-the-scenes making of “The Force Awakens” as well as a surprise concert after the Hall H panel. But it was Star Wars’ rich cinematic legacy that stole the show on Friday night. Well, that and Han Solo.
In a rare emotional moment, Harrison Ford, after receiving a standing ovation, fought back tears as he expressed his gratitude for the series.
“The original Star Wars was the beginning of my working life,” he said, visibly moved. “I was very happy to be a part of the story and the cast again.”
It was Ford’s first public appearance since crashing his plane in March, which left him hospitalized.
But the 70-year-old actor assured moderator Chris Hardwick and the audience that he was “just fine.” He broke his leg in an unrelated, on-set accident that delayed production on “The Force Awakens” last year.
Joining Ford onstage were director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, writer Lawrence Kasdan and several Star Wars newcomers and veterans, including original cast members Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
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“It’s such a personal story to everyone,” Hamill said. “Suddenly you become a friend to everyone.”
Fisher agreed and later joked that she and the other “legacy” Star Wars actors looked a little “melted” these days. “But in a good way,” she said.
Abrams, who promised a new “Force Awakens” trailer this fall, said one of the most important tasks for him was to not let fandom get in the way of making the Disney and Lucasfilm sequel.
“When you’re directing a scene on the Millennium Falcon, it doesn’t make the scene good,” he said. “It’s definitely bitchin’, don’t get me wrong, but what’s the story?”
He also brought out a giant animatronic creature from “The Force Awakens” to emphasize how important authenticity, not CGI, was to the film’s shoot in London and Morocco. “We have a cut of the movie,” he later teased. “(But) we’re still tweaking to get the right story.”
The director was caught off-guard when a few audience members asked why there weren’t more Asians in the “Star Wars” universe.
“I think you’ll be happy to see there are Asians in this film,” he responded, thanking them for their “hugely important question.” He added: “We didn’t write the characters to be any color … we wanted the movie to look the way the world looks.”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters Dec. 18.