In the blockbuster sci-fi sequel “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (directed by J.J. Abrams), it is 30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, and the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn (played by John Boyega) crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” also stars Carrie Fisher, reprising her role as the heroic Leia.
Other cast members include Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a Resistance X-wing fighter pilot; Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, a commander of the First Order’s Starkiller Base; Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, an officer in the First Order; and Lupita Nyong’o, voicing the CGI character Maz Kanata, the operator of a cantina. J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt co-wrote the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the “Star Wars” sequels “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Revenge of the Jedi.” Abrams, Lucasfilm Ltd. president Kathleen Kennedy and Bryan Burk are producers of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Here is what Ford, Fisher, Abrams, Boyega, Ridley, Nyong’o, Driver, Christie and Kasdan said at a London press conference for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
If you could describe “Star Wars” in one word, what would it be?
Fisher: Blue hat. That was two words.
What did you in your audition process that made you stand out? And what advice did you get from the original cast?
Ridley: I have no idea what I did. I just tried very hard and just hoped very much. There wasn’t so much advice as there was a conversation with Harrison about anonymity and some things with Carrie. I think people were leading by example. So, for me, it was amazing to see people who were so established and with a huge career be kind and generous with everyone on set.
Driver: They didn’t seem to be people who were, “Let me sit you down and tell you what your experience is going to be.” I feel like their energy on set, and like Daisy was saying, even though they were in the original trilogy, to come back, I didn’t get the sense of, “Oh, they’ve been there, done that” or they’re not as excited about it.
There was still a youthful ambition of trying to get it right, and knowing these characters so well but still trying to make it deeper or more resonant in watching. They very much lead by example. It’s very inspiring to see but also terrifying, because it seems like no matter how long you get to do this job, you never quite figure it out, it seems. That’s both comforting and terrifying.
Fisher: My advice? Don’t go through the crew like wildfire.
What was your most exciting moment when filming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”?
Ridley: I don’t think I can pick one, but I do remember one of my most touching moments was at the end, because you kind look back and you can’t believe all of the stuff that has gone on and the many months and the incredible amounts of hard work and passion and energy that have been drawn from everyone and given graciously. So the last hour, I probably found the most emotional and the most exciting.
What was the wrap party like on the last day?
Fisher: Who remembers that? [J.J. Abrams] was great to work with. George Lucas was wonderful, but he never spoke, really. [Lucas] said, “Faster and more intense.” [J.J. Abrams] talks a lot, and it’s really good stuff that he says, so that was exciting to hear. And he remembers everyone’s name. And he put a lot of energy in it. We didn’t have any energy in the first [“Star Wars”] film. Right?
Ford: Exactly right. It helps a lot to have somebody that gives as much as J.J. gives to the whole enterprise. This is besides the direction of the movie and the engineering of this monster to what it is today. But also, the human kindness that J.J. brings to the set every day is part of what makes the movie what it is.
Fisher: He was really excited to do it. He was young when I was a teenager. He was a fan. It was infectious excitement and real focus. He has high verbal acuity. And he really loved making the movie, except with me. No, he was great to work with. It’s very exciting. I mean that sincerely.
J.J., how does it feel to have “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” finally in cinemas?
Abrams: It’s an enormous relief. This has been, like everyone’s been saying, a few years of intense work from literally thousands of people. At the end of the film and you watch the credits and see all those names — especially when you get to the visual-effects names, and you see these four columns of names. Each of those people lost sleep and didn’t see their families. And on behalf of everyone in that incredible list of crew members and amazing cast members, I’m finally relieved to get this out of the editing room and the post-production world so people can see it because the actors and all those names did an extraordinary job.
Fisher: You remembered all of them. That’s a sign of respect for the process, and he has that.
For more info: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” website