Kicking off Day 1 of Star Wars Celebration is one of the most highly anticipated panels: the Lucasfilm Studios panel. To get the fans’ adrenaline brewing, a beautiful montage of movies and TV shows opened the panel, generating massive collective oohs and ahas.
Lucasfilm executive Kathleen Kennedy started the event with some opening remarks. “This is the fifteenth Star Wars Celebration,” which she says, “I can’t believe.”
The series Andor is now in its sophomore season, and showrunner Tony Gilroy says the last time they came to Celebration the series was a secret and they couldn’t show anything to anyone. “Now it’s tremendously exciting to be here in a legit way,” he says. “We’re doing what we’ve been doing for three years, and we are trying to finish it out proudly and hope you are proud of us.”
Diego Luna greeted the crowd saying how good it felt to be back in London. “The first time I was here was for Rogue One. I feel like I am part of this community, and I am still here because you liked it and we are still doing Andor.”
The last shot of the first season was the jump out of prison. Actor Andy Serkis discusses the build up to the rebellion. It was an incredible scene and an emotional moment because it was the end of the shoot.
Tony Gilroy says Season 2 started shooting in November, finished in August, and will be complete next August. There are three directors at Pinewood Studios working on the series. According to Gilroy, the second season is the final season. He says, “If you know your ending, it really helps. We know exactly where we are going with our ending.”
Leslye Headland came to the stage as showrunner and head writer of The Acolyte. She says she’s a fan of fan fiction. The tone of the series is governed by how it takes a place in a peaceful time. Akira Kurosawa films inspired her while she worked on the show, and lone warriors are paid homage to. “There’s a spiritual war that’s going on during this timeline,” she says. “Touch of Zen is one of the films that we pay homage to in the series.”
Actor Amandla Stenberg says the series has an emotional and profound way of reaching the darker side of ourselves and delivers blurred lines of magic and the reality of the unknown.
Squid Games star Lee Jung Jae says it’s his first time using a light saber.
Jodie Turner Smith says, “Its so exciting and nerve wracking and I know what it means to so many people, but it felt like I had really big shoes to fill. I was called to come in to do this by one of my favorite directors, to step into this world that is so sacred. I hope you love it.”
Although actor Manny Jacinto wasn’t being literal here, he said, “It’s a huge honor to do this with this cast, and it’s a dream. I cry every day.”
Dafne Keen says, “It was intense training with lightsabers. It was like playing with sticks but they light up. We had three months of training.”
Next up was The Mandalorian. When Jon Favreau graced the stage, it came with some huge fanfare. Unfortunately Pedro Pascal wasn’t in attendance, as I’m certain the convention center would have exploded. Instead, he gave a video message for fans.
During the panel, Jon Favreau stated that executive producer Rick Famuyiwa has directed the last two episodes of this season.
Rick says, “I’m glad everyone is enjoying it and examining the culture around The Mandalorian and what it means. I am excited about the storytelling, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the last few come out. There are a lot of things that have been planted that we see a resolution of.”
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni says that it made sense for Ahmed Best to save Grogu because of his character in Jedi Temple, and they’re thankful for the outpouring of appreciation of his character. For context, Ahmed Best, most notably known for playing Jar Jar Binx, made a fantastical debut this season that wowed fans everywhere.
The Skeleton Crew made its debut at Star Wars Celebration last year in Anaheim, and Dave Filoni had more to share about it. “These kids have a big sense of wonder, and it’s more than they can handle,” he says.
Jon Favreau added he heard of the idea The Skeleton Crew from Jon Watts when he was acting in Spider-Man. He then went on to talk to Kathleen Kennedy about the inspiration of Goonies, and she had talked to Jon Watts.
Kathleen Kennedy says, “These weren’t just kids films, and that’s the vibe of how we approach this show.”
Ahsoka is a series we have all been waiting for with bated breath. Jon Favreau says, “Everything that has come out of the TV stuff that we have done together, just know that was guiding me the whole time; everyone you are seeing is Dave Filoni, and we are so proud of what we are seeing.” If you don’t know already, Dave Filoni is the brainchlild behind the character of Ashoka.
Rosario Dawson, who plays the titular character, says, “I had no idea I would be meeting Mark Hamill. Every single day has been a delight. The level of detail [on this show] has been so remarkable.”
Kathleen Kennedy says it’s been 10 years since they have been making films at Pinewood Studios.
Fifteen years after the events of Rise of Skywalker, the tale of the new Jedi Order will be told. The filmmakers behind the new Star Wars films kept it very vague and didn’t even provide a movie title, simply a timeline reference and that some narratives will have an origin story.
Dave Filoni says, “We are drawing on new things in this epic battle after the events of The Force Awakens.”
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is also a new director added to the Star Wars universe. She says, “I am attracted to the idea of immersing myself in a new academy with a new Jedi Master.” `
Shortly after, Daisy Ridley is introduced as the new Jedi Master to lead the film universe, and the fans go wild.
Harrison Ford couldn’t make it to Celebration this year but had a video message for fans to chat about his latest film Indiana Jones: The Dial of Destiny. Mads Mikkelsen says, “It’s one of those films that stick with you forever.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge says, “We were in Sicily when Harrison donned the hat, and I remembered that day. The note Jon gave was to stop smiling.”
Fans and press screened six minutes of the film, which was shot on location in Morocco and Sicily — and Mads wasn’t kidding. The action scenes are pretty intense. It’s been announced the film will premiere this year at the Cannes Film Festival.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.