The Star Wars Celebration taking place this weekend has a hell of a lot to cram into just a few short days. On top of its existing legacy spanning decades of fierce fandom, the new movies released in recent years have brought droves of new fans to the franchise. That is now compounded with Disney’s plans to release even more films expanding the Star Wars universe perhaps indefinitely – with fans eager to hear more about the future movies that will build on the new characters they’ve come to love and introduce even more heroes to follow in their adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
This year’s celebration had the added weight of commemorating the passing of one of the most iconic actors in the series, Carrie Fisher, whose Princess Leia has become a figurehead not only for Star Wars but for popular culture as a whole and whose passing at the end of 2016 was mourned around the world.
The event this year began with a panel entitled “40 Years of Star Wars“, hosted by Warwick Davis, who played Wicket the Ewok. It featured a surprise guests appearance from creator George Lucas himself, who took fans right back to the very beginning of Star Wars, to long before it was on the big screen, to a time when it was an idea in the mind of a young man who dreamed of making movies.
The panel featured a wealth of other stars – including such familar faces as Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Peter Mayhew – all of whom shared their stories of the movies, piecing together the history of the series.
Fans were then treated to yet another surprise appearance by Harrison Ford – this being his first ever appearance at Star Wars Celebration.
But for all the excitment the famous faces caused, the was no escaping the empty space where the iconic Princess and General should have been.
George Lucas began the touching tribute to her by reminding everyone how perfect she was for the role, how her strength and her personality was exactly what they needed for Leia. “She was very strong, very smart, very funny, very bold, very tough,” he said.
The panel concluded with a montage that had been put together to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher that reminded us all how lucky the world was to have her. Afterwards, her daughter Billie Lourd assured fans that her mother was as touched and emboldened by her fans in attendance and around the world as they are by her:
“Nothing about her was a performance. She loved you … In our world, Star Wars became a religion and a way of life. I wanted to be here with you because I know you feel the same way.”