SWCO 40th Anniversary Panel Notes & Thoughts

It would be an understatement to say this panel pushed every possible long-term fan button and delivered surprises galore.  It was one of those things that was almost as exciting to watch from home online as it was to be there in person.  At least until the streaming started hiccuping around toward the end.  Maybe when you figure you didn’t have to pay to get in, book a flight and hotel, or sleep on the sidewalk for three days, it wasn’t a bad tradeoff.  It sucks more to have done all that and STILL not make it inside.


* THE MAKER!!!!!  I figured there was a good chance Lucas would show up and show up he did in his trademark checked shirt and jeans.  He stayed for the entire program.  My favorite thing he said was SW at its core was a film made for 12-year-olds.  Sadly he did not say he was coming out of retirement.

*Warwick Davis…he’s always been funny and charming.  Nice job MC’ing.

*Dave Filoni…the master reunites with the apprentice.

* The Dark Side Rockstars.  Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen appeared to chat about their involvement in the prequel era with George Lucas to big cheers.  Who knew the Emperor had such a great sense of humor?  This was Hayden’s first con appearance since Celebration II in 2002 and he said it was great to be back.  They mentioned the opera house scene had one of if not the longest stretch of dialogue in the entire saga.  Ian praised Hayden and Ewan’s work on the lightsaber duel from ROTS and thought they should’ve done a roadshow demonstrating their fighting skill.  Hayden talked about how hard it was to film without making the lightsaber noises.

*The OT reunion minus the alumni who have left us, which was kind of sad.  Which leads us to…

*The long and touching tribute to Carrie Fisher.  I know this sounds super hokey and I’m not the Long Island Medium, but it really felt like she was there in spirit among her fans, friends, family, and former co-stars.  This included some first glimpes of Leia in TLJ.

*Thank God on the livestream we were spared the pre-show hype man.


*JOHN FREAKIN’ WILLIAMS!!!  His first Celebration appearance ever with a local orchestra for a great closing program of music, at first in tribute to Fisher then to SW in general.

*HARRISON FORD!!!  Also his first Celebration appearance, with many plane jokes to go around.  I have to say this was the most coherent I’ve ever seen Ford in a live interview; he usually seems drunk or really nervous.  Here he seemed relaxed, present, and genuinely happy to be there.  He expressed his gratitude to Lucas and to the fans.

*Video howdys from Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson!!!  Neeson sent his regrets from the set of something he’s shooting in the Canadian rockies and looked a little beat up.  He joked that it was about Jar Jar going to the dark side.  He spoke of how honored he was to play Qui-Gon.  Jackson kicked off his Bring Back Mace Windu campaign by mentioning how many other characters have been killed only to return stronger than ever with cybernetics.

*Billie Lourd!!!  I was so ticked off when the streaming went wonky just after her speech started.  Since this was her first public appearance since her mother’s and grandmother’s deaths, I imagine every celebrity news and gossip site jumped on the feed immediately.  I’ve read/seen bits and pieces of her speech, where she capped it off by reciting from memory Leia’s your my only hope part from ANH.  The Leia-inspired dress she wore was custom-designed by Tom Ford.  Because I care about stuff like that.

*No Disney kids?  I kind of thought this would be a crash-bang journey through all four decades of SW-ness with some of the ST or Rogue One cast dropping by but I guess with a panel tomorrow and a separate RO panel with Forest Whittaker and Felicity Jones, it would be kind of redundant.  This panel was about George Lucas’s classic SW (PT, OT, a little bit of Clone Wars).


*The flow of the panel felt a little disjointed until they got to the Fisher tribute.  I can’t put my finger on why.

*The streaming going wonky at one of the panel’s emotional highlights.  Your service sucks, Verizon!  It’s really going to be a nightmare tomorrow with the TLJ panel.

*Hey, Kenny Baker passed too.  Remember him?

*While I’m glad this is the most acknowledgment of the prequels I’ve seen at any Celebration since 2005, what happened to Ewan and Natalie?  What, are they training with SEAL Team Six in South Korea as we speak?  In all seriousness, I know Ewan is filming “Fargo” and Natalie is the very tired mom of two including a newborn daughter.  But they couldn’t drop a quick hello on Skype?


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21 Responses to “SWCO 40th Anniversary Panel Notes & Thoughts”

  1. Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

    Ur right, LP. They should use Time Warner Cable or Optmimum instead of Verizon.

    Also, ur right, kinda surprised Kenny Baker wasn’t brought up.

    Natalie’s probably still on maternity leave and taking care of her daughter to do a web-video and Ewan’s probably doing Beauty and the Beast promotion in Japan. Though, while I get why Nat wouldn’t do it, ur right about Ewan not doing it, which IS surprising. But, like I said, maybe Ewan’s down in Japan, promoting Beauty and the Beast there for Disney. Or maybe doing his episodes for Fargo.

    Personally for me, I thought this panel was pleasantly surprising. I just wish since this was categorized in the “Future of Star Wars” category on starwarscelebration.com, that we’d get some word on the future, so, I’m surprised we didn’t really get anything future-related at all. Oh well. Guess we’ll have to see if the panel for TLJ can top this. I wonder if they’ll bring out “u-know-who” to top it.

  2. Brian47 Says:

    Thanks so much for the recap! I only caught the first 15 minutes before I had to head to work. I really wanted to see the portion with Ian and Hayden, glad to hear it was well received.

  3. SWPN Says:

    “This panel was about George Lucas’s classic SW (PT, OT, a little bit of Clone Wars).”

    Also known as the ‘true’ Star Wars.

  4. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    Here is an image from Orlando – http://haydenandrachel.tumblr.com/post/159540220635/the-skywalker-legacy.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      That pic with Hamill is great. I saw a group photo with all of the panel guests but Hamill on Twitter. The quality of the snap wasn’t great (it looks like it was taken backstage) but Hayden was standing between Dave Filoni and Harrison Ford.

  5. zch81721 Says:

    I’ve been skipping around the stream but I’ll sit down and watch it later if I can. But already I am extremely happy. I wasn’t happy with how Lucas was pushed to the side during the production of Force Awakens but after him coming around during Rogue One and being on this panel made me extremely happy. Especially to see the crowd cheering. Glad to see Liam Neeson and Samuel Jackson as well. But they are pretty well known actors so to see them brought back didn’t surprise me. But Hayden Christensen. I never thought I’d see him any where near Star Wars in the Disney era. Was very happy to see that. And I’m hoping this strengthens the rumors floating around that he’ll be in Last Jedi. For once I am actually feeling optimistic about an upcoming Star Wars movie in the Disney era.

    • Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

      You didn’t like Rogue One? I thought u’d enjoy it for respecting all of Star Wars (PT, CW, Rebels and OT) as one canonical universe.

      • zch81721 Says:

        Oh I enjoyed Rogue One. Just the build up to it with all the marketing and trailers I was incredibly pessimistic. It looked like another Force Awakens. But thankfully the movie proved me wrong. What I meant with Last Jedi is with the stuff I’ve been hearing from some of the rumors I’m actually looking forward to this one before it comes out.

    • Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

      Well, let’s hope tomorrow, they blow the roof off of the place with confirming Hayden as Force Ghost Anakin in TLJ. I don’t know if they’ll want it revealed that early, but, why else would Hayden be out here? Plus, his autograph photo-op session ends at the halfway point of TLJ panel, so there’s always a chance he’ll pull a “George Lucas at Clone Wars Season 5” kinda surprise and blow the roof off of the Last Jedi panel.

  6. joe Says:

    hope this isn’t too off topic yo may have heard already that will be a series of shorts featuring the women of star wars that air on disney channel this summer padme will be featured and catherine taber will reprise her role from clone wars leia ashoka rey hera sabine and jyn will all be in them as well can’t wait

  7. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    I also found this on Tumblr – http://68.media.tumblr.com/e242741e9529225eb7f03135c1b456ba/tumblr_oodbbaL9wt1qfe5vwo1_500.jpg

  8. rynnbowers Says:

    We have hope of the Obi-Wan movie….possibly getting hinted at one of the panels and Ewan saying he would love to come back for it…which would tie into the rebels show with the latest episodes that featured him.

    Natalie has gone on record saying she wishes she had never done the films sadly because they almost ruined her acting career. Then turned around and visited the set of The Force Awakens. I’m sorry but Padme is my favorite Star Wars charcter, and she should be happy she got to do these films because she was such a great character and honestly the mother of two most famous SW characters. She is a great actress no doubt she won an Oscar, but honestly I’m tired of the hate from everyone about the prequels…they weren’t that bad…you want bad go watch the force awakens. It was fan fiction…terrible fan fiction at that! #notmystarwars

    Either way it would have been great to have a Skype or message from them. I am so glad Hayden actually came and hate to say it I hope they bring him back for The Last Jedi. That would be great too especially if they announce it while he is there…unless he left right after the panel was over. He did seem nervous being there, he has nothing to be nervous about or ashamed of. He did great in Attack of the Clones and especially in Revenge of the Sith. Overall I was just glad I got to see him.

    And yes whoever it was at Verizon who was filming and streaming the celebration as much as I hate to say it deserves to be fired…especially due to the fact that during the tribute it just messed up. I mean JOHN FREAKING WILLIAMS!!!! come on…you have to admit that man has a talent. I have never seen an audience go quiet as fast as this one did….and with a small wave of the hand at that. You could hear a pin drop. But…yeah…whoever was in charge of video needs to have been handed their walking papers. Then disney needs to tell Verizon “sorry we are going with one of our own film makers to film and stream the rest of the celebration…good luck getting work in the future.” They really could get one of their own people to film the thing and stream it ten times better than what we got today.

    Ok and last rant I promise…Kathleen Kennedy really needs to go, you all know my feelings on her from past topics brought up no need to open old wounds disrespecting her mentor but yeah I cringed when the all Father of star wars walked out and they hugged like they were the best of chums. Ugh…oh well glad that’s over, though not looking forward to the Rian Johnson and her together for TLJ reveal. Nothing against Rian Johnson, can’t wait for him to fix what Jar Jar Abrams messed up so excited for him but don’t want to see Kennedy again. ok I promise that was the last rant. Hope the rest of celebration turns out well.

    • Branislav Marček Says:

      “Natalie has gone on record saying she wishes she had never done the films sadly because they almost ruined her acting career.”

      She never said such a thing.

      • Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

        Actually, I think she did. I’m gonna try to find a link to where she said that, but, I believe it was during promotion for one of the two Thor movies.

      • Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

        Ok, correction, she never explicitly said it, but she KIND OF implies it in the interview in this link bell about Nat feels her career was nearly “ruined” by Star Wars: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/natalie-portman-star-wars-made-people-think-i-was-a-horrible-actress-20141912

      • rynnbowers Says:

        Other articles mention the same thing and that no one would hire her afterwards….which is a shame. I am a huge fan of her and as previously stated I love the character padme a lot, it just sucks that she would think this and if true other directors would stoop that low to base her acting on that one film. I could understand a syfy movie of the week, yeah I would question your acting prowess…but not coming from a film series like star wars.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Natalie has said a lot of things but she has NEVER said she regretted doing the films. She might have blamed the backlash from TPM for stifling her opportunities; it happened to other people in the cast too. I think there might have been other reasons that maybe she didn’t consider, i.e. her insistence on being a full-time student. Claire Danes also had a hard time getting gigs while she was at Yale and had to rebuild her career from scratch after she graduated.

      • LadyJediScientist (@LJediScientist) Says:

        If you read or watch any interviews with Carrie from the 1990s, you might notice that she seems to resent being asked about Princess Leia. Even Harrison has had issues with being associated with Han Solo.

        It’s not so much a matter of their careers being ruined by the character (that’s definitely not the case with Harrison), but rather they want to be known for their talent as an actor and not just for one role. It took Christopher Plummer decades to be less grouchy about the fact that he was the male lead in The Sound of Music.

        Natalie was enthusiastic about the PT while they were being made and when the films were at the theater. Now, I think Natalie is the same place that Carrie was in the 1990s- she wants to be taken seriously as an artist and she thinks she has to distance herself from Star Wars to do that.

        Ewan and Hayden are more like Mark in their attitudes towards Star Wars – there are worse fates than being known as a Jedi for the rest of your life 😉 I’ll add Liam & Samuel to this list as well.

      • rynnbowers Says:

        Ok so I am watching the heroines of star wars panel…I love ahsoka and sabine and obviously I adore padme more than anything, which brings the question up as to why Padme is getting screwed over with everything? They have the shorts thing coming out and she isn’t mentioned hardly. They showed the toy line and, yep no padme. Heck even the galaxy of heroes game I play on my mobile doesn’t have her as a character, but we have damn near every other female character. Is disney still not accepting her as part of the canon? Are they they forgetting she was Luke and Leia’s mother? Ugh….so not happy about this.

      • Bayonne VeterinaryMedical Says:

        There is a short about her, Ryan. There are supposed to be two half-hour specials airing on Disney Channel this fall and Padme is supposed to be one of them. Maybe they want to hold that doll back until closer to the release.

  9. LadyJediScientist (@LJediScientist) Says:

    JUST LOVED THIS PANEL!!! I’m so glad I watched the live stream! Lots of George Lucas Love! Loved hearing the crowd chant “LUCAS! LUCAS!”

    I am glad the focus was George’s work and not any of the Disney AU. George’s speech about Carrie was just perfect!
    And Hayden just looked so HAPPY to be there! Love the idea of a Hayden and Ewan lightsaber roadshow!!

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