On Dec. 6, 2015, the press of the world descended on the city of Los Angeles, California, to learn more about the newest installment of the “Star Wars” saga: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Due to the extreme secrecy Disney and Lucasfilm have enacted in order to keep the secrets of the film, the press conference, at times, felt more like a panel at a comic book convention, replete with celebrity host. Mindy Kaling, creator and star of “The Mindy Project,” brought out two different sessions of cast and crew, leading them through vague questions and laughs. We wanted to share our five favorite moments.
1: The Singing Cast
The cast of “The Force Awakens” broke out into song not once but twice. The first was star Daisy Ridley, who plays the lead character of Rey. Mindy Kaling asked her what music would accompany her character were she to walk out at a wrestling match. Ridley's answer? Mulan's “I'll Make a Man Out of You,” originally sung by Donny Osmond. When J.J. Abrams chided her to give a sample, Ridley donned a husky voice and belted out the main chorus. “It's iconic guys!”
When Kaling asked the question again of Gwendoline Christie, who plays the villainous Captain Phasma, she couldn't quite remember the name. “I'm trying to think of the name of it because it's just coursing through my brain now,” Christie said before launching into a rendition of Led Zeppelin's “Kashmir” with co-stars Oscar Isaac and John Boyega.
2: The Wisdom of Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Kasdan might be one of the best screenwriters of his generation. Not only did he pen the screenplays for “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” he wrote “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” too. He wrote and directed “Silverado” and “The Big Chill” as well. He's a big deal. And to have him bringing his wisdom to the press conference was refreshing. Hearing him proclaim his influences on this new script was like a film class.
“All the movies of Akira Kurosawa have influenced me throughout my career,” Kasdan said. “That's because he was sort of the Shakespeare of cinema. He did comedies, he did action films, he did Shakespearian drama, and all of life is contained in each one of his films. ‘Seven Samurai,' is maybe the greatest film ever made.”
3: Carrie Fisher Almost Walking Out
Carrie Fisher, who is reprising her role of Princess Leia for the movie, is known for her antics in front of the press. She says exactly what's on her mind and doesn't let anyone give her a hard time about it. When the question was asked if she'd like to have her faithful sidekick, Gary Fisher — her dog — somewhere in the film, she became indignant. “I wish. I begged J.J. And Gary was willing to sleep with J.J. to get a part in this movie,” she said. “And I mean nap. But still.”
It turned into a heated exchange between Fisher and Abrams, and no one could quite tell if they were joking.
“He didn't like having him on the set,” said Fisher.
“That's not true,” Abrams fired back.
“Oh, it is,” insisted Fisher.
“Is not,” Abrams asserted.
Kaling ended the maybe-real-maybe-not confrontation by proclaiming, “J.J. is not a fan of animals,” and then ending the press conference right then and there.
4: Oscar Isaac's Missing Uncle
After a discussion about whose trailer the cast went to when they wanted to party (Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac were the answers), Isaac, who plays pilot Poe Dameron in the film, delighted the press with a story about his lost Uncle.
“My uncle came to visit. Huge ‘Star Wars' fan, and he's so obsessed with ‘Star Wars,'” Isaac relays with a grin. “And I lost him. I couldn't find him. And I heard all this laughter coming out of Carrie's trailer and I went in there and he was there just with her and Gary Fisher, her dog, just hanging out with them.”
5: John Boyega and Harrison Ford
If there's a larger fan of Harrison Ford than John Boyega, you'd be hard-pressed to find one. Ford, who is coming back to play Han Solo, and the newcomer Boyega, who's playing Finn, spent much of the press conference jabbing back and forth at each other. Boyega would proclaim Ford was his best friend, Ford would feign no knowledge of who Boyega was at all.
“You'll let me sleep on your couch if stuff goes AWOL, right?” Boyega asked, much like a lost but infatuated puppy.
“I hardly know you,” Ford deadpanned.
That's when Boyega turned to the audience, pointing at Ford, “We're best friends. He's just saying that.”
Although the press wasn't able to see the film and the cast and crew didn't have much to talk about in the way of plot specifics thanks to the secrecy involved, it was clear they were having fun. After weeks of ensemble promotional appearances, the fact that they're still having fun together bodes well for the on-screen chemistry we're likely to see once the movie's out.