Behind the Scenes at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Press Junket

I get to attend some pretty amazing events as part of my blog life, but none more anticipated (and shrouded in secrecy) as the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Press Junket. 

Marta Darby - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I received the coveted invitation which was pretty much a 'save the date' with no information as to the time and place. Can you imagine? Of course, I responded affirmatively. Of course. I would be there with bells on! 

The final directions arrived in my inbox the night before, with cryptic directions of 'park here, turn left at the top of the stairs, go behind the white curtain.' I swear. Isn't that fantastic? If they had asked me for a pint of blood and my first male child I don't think I would have balked, but that's not important right now.

When I walked through the white curtain, (I'm not lying about this) I knew I had stepped into a press junket like no other. 

Star Wars Junket posters

I was surrounded by Everything Star Wars. From shoes and toys to costumes and art, it was a Star Wars Junkie's dream come true. 

Star Wars toys and merchandise
Star Wars art
Star Wars art 2

We got to taste The Dark Side and The Light Side Limited Edition Star Wars Ice Cream from Ample Hills Creamery. Full disclosure: The Dark Side had a bit too much mocha for my taste. 

The Dark Side ice cream

The costumes from the film were also magnificently on display.

 Leia and Han's costumes. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Leia and Han's costumes. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 Kylo Ren and Stormtrooper Costumes. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Kylo Ren and Stormtrooper Costumes. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This was all before we got to interview the cast and filmmakers. Could we get any nerdier?

The interview portion of the day was split up by two groups. Our moderator was Mindy Kahling of The Mindy Project. The first group to be interviewed were: Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong'o, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and Director J.J. Abrams.

 L to R: Lawrence Kasdan, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong'o, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, J.J. Abrams

L to R: Lawrence Kasdan, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong'o, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, J.J. Abrams

Having Mindy Kahling, who happens to be a friend of J.J.'s, asking the questions made the Q&A super fun. She wanted to ask questions that no one else would, so she led with this for Director JJ Abrams:

Mindy to J.J.: Aren’t you rich? Why did you want to do these movies? Don’t you have a hot wife who doesn’t need you to be in Abu Dhabi for four months at a time?

JJ Abrams, director Star Wars: The Force Awakens

J.J. ABRAMS: Here’s the thing. This is a project that I felt incredibly lucky to be asked to be a part of, and I think I speak for all of us, except for maybe Harrison, when I say, this was not a job. I’m kidding, Harrison, you know, was unbelievable.

But the process of this movie, to a person on the crew, to a person on the cast, this was not a job, and it was nothing that I think any one of us took on because it was a gig that was available. It was something that felt like a true passion and something that every single person brought much more than any of could have expected, and so I do honestly feel honored to be part of this group."

My take-away from J.J. Abrams was that he knew from the very beginning that he was given a great responsibility to carry on the legacy of Star Wars. He felt very sure that he wanted to tell the story as much like the original Star Wars as possible. 

He knew why he was telling this story and wanted to give people that sense of possibility and magic we all felt when we saw the original Star Wars. (Full disclosure: I've seen the film. He totally did that.)

Carrie Fisher is truly A Force To Be Reckoned With. (no pun intended)

 Carrie Fisher and Lupita Nyong'o

Carrie Fisher and Lupita Nyong'o

She very touchingly described how this movie is totally a family experience. She said, "I’ve had people over the years come up, I’m showing this to my child, that you know, I didn’t want to wait till they were 6, so I went with 5.

And you watch your children watch the movie and you learn something about your children, and will we like the same characters and Halloween becomes kind of more of a Thanksgiving experience, without the turkey.

But you see all these pictures of entire families dressed as the characters and I find that so moving. Sorry. But I do. It’s just an amazingly emotional movie."

Which is exactly what I wanted her to say in her own inimitable way, thankyouverymuch.

The 2nd half of the interviews were just as fun. I think everyone took a deep breath when Harrison Ford walked into the room, because I heard a huge, collective sigh. 

 Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

 Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford

Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford was asked if he could tell the younger cast members anything, what would it be. I appreciated his answer so much. Picture Harrison Ford, with that disarming smile and a twinkle in his eye saying:

"It’s is bizarrely individual, how you navigate the space between where they’re at now, and the rest of your useful professional life.  But they’re in for a big ride.  And they know it, I think - I hope you know it."

Producer Kathleen Kennedy was very forthright in stating that the filmmakers were all very respectful of the fans from the very beginning.

"The fans have really been the ones focused around making sure that everybody and anybody who walks into this movie gets to be surprised.  We have so little things that surprise us anymore when you walk in to see a movie - it’s all told in the trailers; it ends up online way in advance.  And I think, you know, that’s something that overwhelmingly - I’ve even had people say to me, “I don’t want to read anything, at all,” so that they can get into the theater and actually have a pleasant surprise.  So that’s really all that’s driving it.  And we’ve respected that in all ways we can."

I saw the film last night and I promise you no spoilers, but I can also promise you this: You will re-unite with some beloved old friends.

R2D2 and C3PO - Marta Darby

And fall in love with an entire generation of new characters.

Marta Darby & BB8

My review of the movie? There are lots of surprises and it's an amazingly spectacular film. J.J. Abrams got it completely right.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, December 18th, 2015.