What happens when you get Mindy Kaling onto a couch with the likes of J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie and Lawrence Kasdan to talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Awesomeness, that’s what. The press conference location was held as tightly as some government documents and, at that point of time, no one but a few select people (ahem- George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg..etc..) had seen the film yet. You can imagine how we were all feeling. Special, scared and what the hell were we going to ask when we didn’t know what to ask about?
Turns out, with Mindy helping break the ice, we had a lot to ask and here are my favorite quotes from the press conference.
J.J. Abrams on how he decided what to bring from the original trilogy to The Force Awakens
“When Kathy Kennedy and Larry and I started talking about what this was at the very beginning, the fundamental question was: what do we want to feel? And what we want people to feel when they came to this movie? That was really the beginning of the discussion. The answer was the kind of sense of discovery, exhilaration, surprise, the comedy that George Lucas put into Star Wars was for me the thing that made me love the movie. But when you look at all the things that he got right, it’s impossible and stunning. So for us at the very beginning, it was really about knowing why we were telling the story and it was to give people that sense of possibility and magic that we all felt when we first saw the original Star Wars. But I will just say that this is all to tell a new story. Meaning, it’s not a nostalgia trip. We had to go backwards in order to go forwards and if you look at IV, V and VI, those are stories that continue. This is VII. So the history of VII will be what we’ve seen before so the fabric needed to be that that we are familiar with in order to tell a brand new story.”
Adam Driver on creating the villain, Kylo Ren
“I remember early on, not think of him being bad or evil or a villain and try to make something that was more three dimensional. That, to me, when we were talking, originally seemed more dangerous and more unpredictable, someone who feels morally justified in doing whatever they need to to publicly say that what they’re doing is right seemed more active to play than just being evil for the sake of it. That’s not really fun to play I guess.”
Daisy Ridley on Rey being a heroine
“She’s brave and she’s vulnerable and she’s so nuanced. That’s what’s so exciting playing a role like this. She doesn’t have to be one thing to embody a woman in a film, and for me she’s not important because she’s a woman. She’s just important. It just so happens that she’s a woman. Like she transcends gender. She’s going to speak to men and women, but obviously we started with Leia and Leia’s still there kicking ass.”
Gwendoline Christie on playing a villain who is a female
“This is a character who, so far, we have related to due to her choices, due to her character, and not due to the way she has been made in flesh. And conventionally, that has been how we have related to female characters. So this to me felt very progressive, and the response from the audience and the fans has been so celebratory, it makes me think that this is the kind of thing people want to see. People want to see a more diverse reflection of society.:
Lupita Nyong’o on what scared her most about her role
“For me, playing a motion capture character, this was something completely new to me and walking into a room, I had to do this thing where they had to take my picture from all directions at one time. I had to stand in the middle and do a 360 cameras all around me. That freaked me out.”
John Boyega on fan theories about his character
“I remember this theory that Finn is Mace Windu’s grandson. Something like that? And 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’s Samuel L. Jackson, ‘He’s my son!’ That was the moment.”
Carrie Fisher on if Leia has a sense of humor
“She would have to, wearing those hair pieces. I do now have a baboon ass hairstyle. I mean that with love. So you need a sense of humor for that sort of thing. It keeps it lively and fun when you’re getting shot at in everything. No, it’s the hair that really makes you funny.”
Lawrence Kasdan on creating a new story
“I think we were aware, we’re respectful of the canon but we really wanted to tell a story that interested us and delighted us. We didn’t really want any rules and parameters. We said, “We can do anything we want with this story. What would be the most fun thing to do on this page and the next page and the page after that?” That was the guiding principal more than the canon or anything that had come before.”
Kathleen Kennedy on mapping on the future of the franchise
“We haven’t mapped out every single detail yet, but obviously, everybody’s talking to one another, working together. And that collaboration, I think, is what is going to guarantee that everybody’s got a say in how we move forward with this. And so far, it’s going great. I mean, J.J. and Rian [Johnson- director of VIII] already talked at length because Rian’s about to shoot shooting Episode VIII. These guys are getting ready to head over in January, and then Colin [Trevorrow] will start working with Rian and spending a lot of time on set with him.”
Harrison Ford on what the new cast is in for
“I’m not going to tell them how to navigate this very personal space of trying to figure out the careers that they’ve chosen for themselves. It is bizarrely individual, how you navigate the space between where they’re at now and the rest of their useful professional life. But they’re in for a big ride, and they know it.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18th.