At this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, J.J. Abrams shared some exciting info about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. During a panel discussion with Abrams, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, and original castmates Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew—as well as new additions Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega—a number of fascinating revelations were made about the upcoming film.
Abrams admitted that when he was first approached about directing the picture, he declined, partly because it seemed so “daunting” and didn’t fit in with his family’s plans. He also said he wanted to get away from doing sequels. But he changed his mind after he and producer Kathleen Kennedy started brainstorming the project and visualizing what the next installment would look like.
Abrams talked a little about the fictional planet Jakku, which is the home of Daisy Ridley’s character Rey. The planet has two suns and is described asvery hot. While talking about the exotic desert landscape of Abu Dhabi, where the movie was filmed, Abrams made an observation about Star Wars that many would agree with, saying that the franchise “is as much a western and a fairy tale as anything else.”
At one point, the film’s team brought out a working version of the new BB-8 droid, proving it’s for real. The adorable rolling and whirling ball compared to R2-D2, is seen in the film’s trailer. Fans were thrilled when they saw for themselves that it was a live prop instead of CGI.
Ridley provided some interesting details about her character, explaining she works as a scavenger at a shipyard on the planet of Jakku. However, following a fateful encounter with another character, everything changes.
John Boyega was tightlipped about his character Finn, except to confirm that he is a Stormtrooper.
The shortage of female characters in Stars Wars has been subject to criticism dating back to the original trilogy, and filmmakers took a lot of flack when Daisy Ridley was the only woman mentioned in the casting announcements for the new movie. Several more actresses have been added to the cast of The Force Awakens, and Kennedy made it clear that many more female characters will make their way to future films. Talking about what it would’ve been like as a child to try to select a role model from the Star Wars films, Kennedy remarked: “I wouldn’t have had a lot of choices,” adding “That’s going to change.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters Dec. 18.