Q: On that note, it’s kind of a shame that some of us don’t know what happened to the movies, because we can’t really talk about the themes – the greater themes that people should take away, or that you hope they will take away. But John – in the trailer we saw the black stormtrooper. The casting alone made headlines, and was a conversation starter.
So knowing that this is a huge global and cultural event, can you folks tell us what you hope the film, the story, what happens in the film, how it reflects on the world today? What is important for people to come away from the movie with?
JB: So what’s your question there?
Q: The greater cultural impact of The Force Awakens – what do you hope that is?
JB: To me, I’ve got to be honest. I really don’t care about the black stormtrooper stuff. I couldn’t care less. This is a movie about human beings, about Wookiees, space ships and tie fighters, and it has an undertone and a message of courage, and a message of friendship and loyalty, and I think that is something that is ultimately important.
I watched the movie with Kathy just last week, and I really, really relate to Rey, more than any of the characters. To be in the circumstance where you have to find something bigger than who you are, within yourself, is something that’s inspiration to me, and I think that people take that away.
In terms of the kids, all they’re going to concentrate on is BB-8. [laughter]
Q: My question is for John and Oscar. I know you guys both reprise the roles for Disney Infinity 3.0, and I know you, John, are a big fan of the series. I was wondering what it was like to reprise the roles for the game? Was there any time between finishing the movie and going back to those characters for the game?
JB: Yeah, I’ve had to go back twice. Once for Disney Infinity, and the other time for Star Tours, the ride at Disneyland. It’s been – [chuckling]– to be a playable character! I get to play with myself! [laughter]Sorry – I had to tell that. But it’s been amazing, and the characters in Disney Infinity are more childlike versions of the characters in the movie, so that was very cool.
OI: Yeah, I had never done anything like that before, so that was very fun to be able to do. Yeah, and it is – it’s a slightly more energetic, amped up, childlike thing.
JB: “I’m Finn, and I’m in charge now! Hey!” [laughter]
Q: Hi, guys. This is for the three newcomers. I was curious how much of your character’s back stories you were told ahead of time, especially while you were developing the characters, and how that informed where you came in?
OI: I think this has been one of the coolest things about working on this with J.J. and Lucasfilm, is that there’s been a real sense of collaboration with that kind of thing. There’s a bit of a sandbox element to it. We talk about those things, and there was an evolution of those characters, even from the first meeting with J.J. and Kathy and Larry, to what ended up on the screen.
For example, with me, I sort of talk – after we started filming, I was talking a bit about just kind of where Poe could have been from, and the thing is, in New Hope, at the very end of New Hope, in the medal ceremony, one of Guatemala’s claims to fame is that last shot, when the ships are leaving, where you see the temples were shot in Guatemala. And then for me, the fact that I was born there, and that was a rebel base, and I’m playing a rebel – a resistance fighter, I thought “Maybe Poe was there! That’s where he was from!”
And then this comic book comes out, called Shattered Empire, where Poe’s parents ended up going to Yavin, and making sweet love. [laughter]And so that’s an amazing thing. Talking about where a character could have come from ends up in the comic book, and it’s a beautiful thing. It feels like we’re creating these things together.
JB: I didn’t know much going in, because of the spoilers and all that kind of stuff, but I do remember having the sides, which were loosely based on who Finn and Rey was. I just remember during my time screen testing, I was like, to Daisy, “There’s no way that our stories are so simple.” And we still don’t know. [laughter]I’ve still got some conspiracy theories as a fan, as to where Finn comes from. I’m still trying to figure that out. But I like that it’s a mystery. I like that.
GC: Mine was similar. I mean, I was so heartened that it was a genuine creative experience to work with J.J. about who the character was, and to develop that together. And really, without horribly ruining everything for everyone, I think it could be interesting to see where my character may go. [laughter]Isn’t that interesting?
Q: My question is for the newcomers. You three are obviously huge Star Wars fans. You’ve talked about it many times. I’m wondering if you read any of the theories online, if you read any of the fan conversations. If so, could you say what your favorite rumor is that you’ve heard? That you go, “Oh my god, people are really saying this? People really think this is going on?”
OI: That Jar Jar is Kylo Ren. [laughter]I kind of wish that was true.
JB: I remember reading the theory that Finn is Mace Windu’s grandson – something like that. I was at a party, and someone behind me just tapped me on the shoulder and was just like, “YO! BLACK JEDI!” I turned around, and it was Samuel L. Jackson! [laughter]So that was a moment that was a lot of fun for me.
GC: It’s absolutely impossible to follow what John has just said, and I have not – maybe I should start, should I? I have not followed any fan theories at all. I’m just going to say because I’ve been busy with Game of Thrones. [cheers]
JB: Is Jon Snow alive or dead? [laughter]
GC: I only read my bits in the script. I’ve got no idea. [groans]
Q: My question is for Mr. Ford. How difficult was it for you to slip back into the role, and how did you prepare to come back to Han Solo? Is it easier to originate a role, or was it easier to come back to something familiar?
HF: It seemed easy to come back to the character. Clothes make the man. I’ve walked more than a mile in those boots. I was interested in the described path of the character. I thought there was an interesting bit of business for the character to do, and I had been having a real good time with J.J. Abrams, talking about it, and getting ready for the adventure of filming. So it was easy.
KK: I can attest to that. For all of us that were there, the second that he walked into the Millennium Falcon, and said his first line, Han Solo was back. It was pretty instantaneous.
Q: My question is for Mr. Boyega. When you found out you were going to be using what appears to be the Skywalker legacy light saber, how did that feel as an actor?
JB: Oh, it was – I was very excited to use that thing, because I think blue suits me. It was amazing for me to read the whole script, and to find out all the things that Finn has to do. For me, I feel like for some reason, did J.J. know what kind of fan I was when it came to Star Wars and right this role for me, because I get to wear a storm trooper suit, a rebel jacket, I have a blaster, I use a light saber, I hang out with frickin’ Han Solo and Chewie – it’s just fantastic! I love Harrison!
Q: Did you have any concerns about getting a limb hacked off?
JB: I did, I did. Adam Driver has a really long reach. That’s an issue. I’ve done my Floyd Mayweather thing, just bob and weave.
MK: Oscar, I have a question for you, because my mind goes always towards romance – and I was saying this in the other panel, the reason I love Star Wars so much, though people don’t necessarily think of me that way, is that it has parts in it that are better than any romantic comedy, and then there’s action movies, buddy comedies, inter-species friendships – everything you would want.
But my question is I first saw you in Romeo and Juliet in New York. And then I saw you and Carey had such acrimonious chemistry in Inside Llewyn Davis – can you speak about any romance with your character in this movie?
OI: Mostly with BB-8.
MK: That’s surprising.
OI: It’s true. There’s some – there’s a real warmth there, and there’s give and take, and that’s who’s got his back. I’d say if there’s any real romance for Poe, it’s with those two little balls. [laughter]
MK: And then I asked this question before, which is about the idea of an athlete’s walk-up songs, which is a song that an athlete will have when they come into an arena. Ronda Rousey, for example, comes out to the Joan Jett song “Bad Reputation.” Did you have a walk-up song for your character?
GC: Is this to me?
MK: This is to you.
GC: Oh, good lord. I’m trying to think of the name of it, because it’s just coursing through my brain now, it’s that one that goes “Duh-duh-duh, Duh-duh-duh.”
GC: Yes. Exactly that. [laughter][everyone’s inner Beavis and Butt-head is unleashed as the whole cast starts going “Duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh”] [applause]
Q: Question for all the cast and Mr. Ford. I’m curious – the first day that you guys walked in to shoot, what was the number one thing that you tell yourself to not offend Han Solo. Otherwise, he’s going to walk off the set.
JB: Did I offend you? Did I say you didn’t look old enough?
HF: That wouldn’t have offended me at all.
JB: I didn’t say that. I said you looked good. That’s what I said, right?
HF: I don’t remember what you said. [laughter]
OI: Best friends, eh?
HF: [to John] Not paying a lot of attention to you. [laughter]
JB: Didn’t you – you did…
OI: No, no – it’s good.
JB: I’m the only one.
MK: Was the question what did you do to not offend Harrison Ford?
JB: I have to say, though, that there was a moment on the Falcon where Harrison – you had the blaster in your hand, and you were trying to skillfully put it in the holster, and Harrison stood there [mimes Han trying to get the gun in his holster and missing]“Damn it.” “Damn it.” “Damn it.” And me and Daisy were just behind the cameras, like “This is frickin’ insane! Harrison is frickin’ right there!” But we had to do the scene together and not freak out, because it was mesmerizing to see Harrison in this environment, in the movies that we absolutely loved, and it was good to see you with Chewie. We freaked out, but we didn’t show you nothing. We tried to keep it professional for you.
HF: Thank you very much. [laughter]
MK: I think we can take one more question.
Q: I have a really simple question. What were your favorite parts of the original franchise movies, and how did those moments affect your performances in the movies you’re in now?
OI: My favorite part was in Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader’s helmet comes off and you see that he’s just a soft, sad old vulnerable man underneath. I don’t know how that affected my performance, but that’s my favorite part.
GC: I just remember, I was about six when I saw the film, and I remember being so struck by the character of Princess Leia, and thinking even then, in my infant mind, “This seems different to the other women I see in films,” and feeling very, very inspired by that. And inspired by a woman with such tenacity, and so strong minded. I asked Carrie Fisher – I said “I felt like watching your performance implanted a seed in my mind,” and she said she did plant a seed, actually, in my mind. [laughter]
HF: Are you talking about the scene in the snake bikini, sitting on Jabba the Hutt’s lap?
GC: Not that, no.
HF: That’s my favorite. [laughter]
JB: I remember during the auditions – not from the original films, but during the auditions, I had screen tested, and then I heard that I was going to be brought back one last time. Mind you, I had been at the audition for several months, and I just needed inspiration, and I went on YouTube, and saw Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill’s original audition tape, just on YouTube, and that really inspired me to tap into the Star Wars-esque energy, because I think that was something that we were trying to gauge, and that really inspired me, and I booked it!
Luke Y. Thompson has been writing professionally about movies and pop-culture since 1999, and has also been an actor in some extremely cheap culty and horror movies you will probably never hear much about (he is nonetheless mostly proud of them, as he met his wife on one). As editor of The Robot's Voice since 2012, he can take the blame for the majority of the site's content, all of which he creates because he loves you very, very much. (Although he loves nachos more. Sorry.)
Prior to TRV, Luke wrote for publications that include the New Times LA, Los Angeles CityBeat, E! Online, OC Weekly, Geekweek, GeekChicDaily, The L.A. Times, The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Nerdist