This year’s Star Wars Celebration – taking place in Orlando, Florida – started things off with a spectacular bang, as host Warwick Davis took to the stage for panel '40 Years of Star Wars'; inviting legends of the Star Wars universe back to reminisce on the legacy of cinema’s most enduring franchise.
The panel saw live appearances from the likes of George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, and even a surprise performance from John Williams; a few well-wishers, specifically Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson, also sent in some special video messages for the panel.
The '40 Years of Star Wars' panel also marked a first for Star Wars Celebration, as Harrison Ford himself made his debut appearance at the convention – amongst plenty of jokes about his infamous recent incident when landing his plane in LA.
Ford recalled the story of how he was first introduced to Lucas, who initially cast him in a small role in American Graffiti, opening the door to Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and an iconic film career.
“I was actually installing a door for Francis Ford Coppola as a favour to his art director, who had built the door and couldn’t find anyone to install it,” Ford recounted, having famously initially worked in Hollywood as a carpenter. “While I was finishing up the door, in you walked with Richard Dreyfuss.”
And the rest was history, as they say; as Ford paid tribute to the Star Wars films as, “full of humour and emotion and conflict, it was a brilliant invention of a mythology that has sustained interest for over forty years.”
Lucas also shared his experience casting Mark Hamill, having tested various actors for over a year for the role of Luke Skywalker, jokingly adding that Hamill only got the role because he was shorter than him. “I tried to talk him out of that line. Did [Leia] really have to say ‘a little short for a stormtrooper?’” Hamill was swift to add.
Expect plenty more Star Wars news as Star Wars Celebration takes place in Orlando from 13 - 16 April.