Everything in this blog was said by the following crew from Star Wars: The Force Awakens & Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This panel took place at MCM London Comic-Con in May 2017.
Derek Arnold (Pao in Rogue One & Creature/Droid Puppeteer in The Force Awakens)
Matthew Stirling (Stunt Performer in Rogue One & The Force Awakens)
Paul Kasey (Admiral Raddus in Rogue One & Ello Asty in The Force Awakens)
Rufus Wright (Lieutenant Casido in Rogue One)
Brian Herring (BB8 Team for The Force Awakens)
Christopher Patrick Nolan (Alderaanian Guard in Rogue One)
With one of these crew members being told through his youth that his obsession with Star Wars wouldn’t get him anywhere, how wrong that turned out to be indeed. With an ever-growing fandom and unforgettable characters, it’s never too late to get into the galactic franchise.
The attention to detail in every department at Star Wars is at such a high standard. It’s a surreal feeling to read the scripts and realise what you get to be a part of, and what an honour it is. They admit none of them know the world of Star Wars as well as the fans. High praises all around for the Director, J.J. Abrams, as he knows the names of everyone on set, and is very conscious of how people are feeling after hours of being in their costumes, which leads to the actors being happy to work even longer for him.
To stop spoilers escaping the studio and into the hands of the public, the writers will use code names for all the character names and locations. So for example, GH-108 will be a codename for one of the characters, ‘Carousel’ for ‘X-Wing’ or ‘Hall of Mirrors’ for ‘Millennium Falcon’ so the actors have no idea what is going to happen next and each day is a puzzle for them as they attempt to match their script to the story (if they can). Additionally, the editing process is so secretive, the supporting actors don’t even know if they make the final cut until they are all sat at the premiere, so the first watch leaves them quite nervous.
BB8 was designed by a small team and the engineer would figure out how it would move according to this. There were seven versions of him in the original movie, there are more now. With the work done and time to shoot, they came upon a complication… how should BB8 move down the spiral staircase? As a new fact emerges, the day is instantly saved… it turns out that BB8 does not like stairs. Case solved!
One of the most notable experiences being to step onto a set and be facing actors who truly look like aliens, with a set to match, entering another world in moments. Not many can say they have faced Darth Vader in our world, and they admit chills went down their spines. A most bizarre sight is to see the the actors out of their alien costumes, a reminder that yes, everyone you’re working with is human. They all agree those who get to play Jedis get the most comfortable costume. Derek, who played Pao, expressed hopes to one day play a human, as he has never been paid to play a human character. His real first name is hidden into his character’s name; a little gift from the writers and one that some others have received as well.
Someone in the audience asked if fan theories had ever been used in the new Star Wars movies. Fan theories are ideas the people believe will happen later on, or lingers beneath the existing storyline, to perhaps be revealed later. They’ve never heard of this ever occurring. However, to put an interesting spin to their response, everyone who works on Star Wars is a fan… so technically it’s true; there are fans using their ideas to continue the universe we all know and love.
With a section of the panel devoted to the woman who brought Princess Leia to life; Carrie Fisher is remembered for her down-to-earth nature, compassion and talent. She had a sweet and memorable trait of keeping her script in her slippers. Reprising her role in The Force Awakens, the panelists who got to work alongside her expressed their luck and admiration for her. She knew what she stood by, she knew what she had achieved but beyond that, cared for everyone around her. She would often be checking up on those working on the set; always welcoming the newcomers as well.
Many fans have come up to tell the film crew how The Force Awakens is up there with Empire. After all, the last thing they wanted to give you was another ‘JarJar’-type incident.
We will see you at MCM Manchester Comic-Con on 29-30 July 2017.
Swing by our Japan-Cool stand and say hello.