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Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher & J.J. Abrams Lead Press Conference Discussion For “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Los Angeles

Hi everyone!

We were invited to the Star Wars: The Press Awakens press conference event at the Los Angeles Convention Center on December 6th, 2015. We sent a correspondent to cover this special event, which included two press conference panels with a galaxy of talent from the widely anticipated film. Both sets of interviews included Mindy Kaling as host, asking sometimes off-the-wall type questions (apparently she was asked not to ask questions that had been asked previously). And each lineup of talent included an original Star Wars actor: Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) in the first panel, and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) in the second. Of course, questions were often directed to these two actors, who have extremely different personalities. Filling out the panels were other filmmakers and actors, including director J.J. Abrams with Carrie Fisher and producer Kathleen Kennedy with Harrison Ford.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

The first press conference included Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) and writer/producer Lawrence Kasdan (who co-wrote other Star Wars films as well). They joined Fisher and Abrams for a lively discussion – in general about the film, but the veil wasn’t lifted on anything of note. Abrams said that he felt very lucky to be part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that “this was not a job”, but “a true passion”. The words “eternally grateful” came up several times from both Abrams and Nyong’o, and carried forth into the second press conference with what seemed like a very humble Harrison Ford.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

Lupita was part of the principal photography, and said after being asked by Kaling about having a possibly solitary experience that “My first experience with motion capture was with the actual sets with actual actors”. She called standing on the set “mesmerizing”.

Some questions were asked at both press conferences. In the first one, Ridley was asked what her “walk-up” song was, the song that pumped her up. Ridley answered, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan: I used to play it in the trailer before I went on”.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

Countering Ford’s more reserved demeanor in the second press conference, Fisher was happy to take up the cause of girl power, proclaiming “I am the beginning of girl power”. She continued, “I got to be the only girl on an all-boys set, which was fun. We drank through the whole trilogy in the beginning. This (motioning to the cast) is the sober set. What J.J. Abrams brought to this was sobriety” (to much laughter).

Ewoks were brought up in both press conferences, and the room was told both times that they will not be in the film. Although J.J. Abrams did ask, “Living?” Fisher also interjected to J.J. Abrams on the question of whether there would be Ewoks in the movie, “That you’re aware of”.  Abrams did assure everyone, “But there are a lot of them in Return of the Jedi“.

Here is the full video of the first press conference.

The second press conference included John Boyega (Finn), Gwendolin Christie (Captain Phasma) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), joining Ford and Kennedy. Ford fielded a lot of questions, including from Mindy Kaling. Earlier I mentioned that her questions were a little different than one might expect, with her first to him being “Why are you doing this, aren’t you rich?” He hesitated before answering, much more seriously than the question was asked. It also seemed to set the mood for Kaling to tone down her questions just a little bit. Ford answered in a measured response, “It’s because it is what I do. It’s what I like to do. It’s what’s fun for me. And I had a chance to work with people I really admire, doing something I thought was going to be fun…and which actually turned out to be fun…it seemed like a good idea at the time”. Ford was not always serious, but even his humor was low-key.

Here is the press second press conference in its entirety.

Kaling asked Kathleen Kennedy what was not in the movie since she couldn’t ask what was in the movie. To huge applause, Kennedy replied, “Jar Jar’s definitely not in the movie”. To less applause and some boos, she also said, “Ewoks are definitely not in the movie”. She joked that Harrison insisted on it, with him replying, “It’s in my contract”. Apparently there were also difference in wrap parties, with Ford saying that “It was hard to get a drink at the last wrap party. I didn’t know where the bar was”. It was an amusing moment considering Fisher’s earlier statement about the sober set.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

Christie said that she was “very surprised at the overwhelming response to the character of Captain Phasma”, who is the first onscreen female villain in the Star Wars films.

Kaling asked Boyega if he was ready to be an international hearthrob. He joked, “I am looking to be rich like Harrison”.

Overall, the press conferences often pointed to gratitude. Harrison Ford said that it was “gratifying to be part of this”. Later he mused, “It’s good to be home”.