I always hate writing anything like this. Yesterday we lost Peter Mayhew. The man best known for filling the fur, & bringing to life the mighty Chewbacca from Star Wars: A New Hope, all the way Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That said, through the course of these films he's been a major part of my life, even before I grew up & realized Chewy was actually an actor in a suit. I know many people who met you, & said your kindness matched your enormous size. I wish I could've joined their ranks before we lost you. May the Force be with you. Always.
As we said earlier Star Wars Celebration kicked off today in Orlando with 40 Years of Star Wars. Brilliantly hosted by Star Wars alumni, Warwick Davis first out was Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy who after a few words & thanks, introduces "her Yoda", George Lucas. He takes the stage for the rest of the 40th panel for a trip down memory lane. Starting with Dave Filoni, Star Wars Rebels creator, as he talks with George about being a padwan of sorts throughout the course of Star Wars Clone Wars & how social media has connected us all. As he leaves the sage are attention goes to the screen to welcome Qui-Gon Jinn, Liam Neeson with a special "announcement" involving Jar-Jar Binks, everyone's favorite Gungan. After the video Warwick & George are joined by Anakin Skywalker, Hayden Christensen & his Emperor Palpatine, Ian McDiarmid for a darkside reunion. I was waiting for this & was not disappointed at all. A very entertaining back & forth over their experiences throughout their Star Wars careers. Mace Windu, Samuel L. Jackson appeared on screen following their departure letting us know that he feels Mace is still alive. Next on stage was Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, & Billy Dee Williams. Anthony Daniels talked some droid memories & the design of C3PO with George. Peter Mayhew was next, discussing his similarities with the mighty Chewbacca & Princess Leia. The final of the three, Billy Dee Williams, too cool to be interviewed as usual, talked about working with George & gave some insight on Lando Calrissian. Then to join our host & all four men currently on stage was Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill. After a sincere thanks to the fans, George was asked why Mark? What follows was a conversation to make every Star Wars fans dream. As if that wasn't enough, making his first appearance at a Star Wars Celebration, Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Ford steals the show as he tends to do. He & George explain the early years of their film relationship going back to American Graffiti. Afterwards, to cap it all off, Kathleen Kennedy & George Lucas remember Princess Leia, & introduce Carrie Fisher's daughter Billie Lord. She has some touching words about her mother followed by an amazing remembrance video. The Orlando Symphonic Orchestra bring us home with Leia's Theme followed by just about every other Star Wars theme with the only conductor they could possibly have, the great John Williams.