“Chewie … we’re home.”
An older, grayer, and more dashing than ever Han Solo (Harrison Ford) utters these words to Chewbacca in a new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer that debuted Thursday, eliciting Wookiee-like howls of excitement from every Star Wars-obsessed corner of the Internet. Watch it below, then watch it 10 times over again. Stop crying and shaking long enough to rejoice: this movie looks f*cking amazing.
Director J.J. Abrams and a host of Force Awakens cast members—including Star Wars OGs Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew—appeared at a live Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim, Calif., to unleash a flood of new details about the highly anticipated sequel. From the real-life debut of BB-8, the adorable ball droid, to tantalizing hints about the film’s plot, fans were handed a ton of new information to parse until the film hits theaters on Christmas.
First thing’s first: location. It turns out that the desert planet pictured in both teaser trailers, where new lead John Boyega is seen taking off his stormtrooper helmet, is not Tattooine after all. Those sand dunes and bright blue sky belong to a heretofore-unseen planet called Jakku (filmed in Abu Dhabi), inhabited by Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey.
Rey, along with Boyega’s stormtrooper as Finn, and Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron are the three leads of the film. Rey is a “scavenger in a ship graveyard…very solitary,” according to Ridley, while Boyega divulged that when audiences meet Finn, “he’s in incredible danger. The way he decides to react changes his life and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a unique way.” (He remained mum on whether Finn is a force for good or evil.)
But it was Isaac’s description of his X-Wing pilot that really caused a frenzy. To hear Isaac tell it, Poe is “the best fricking pilot in the galaxy, that’s who he is. He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess. He comes across Mr. John Boyega’s character and their fates are forever intertwined.” A stormtrooper and X-Wing pilot team-up, perhaps?! Either way, it sounds like Dameron is giving Solo competition for the title of Cockiest Pilot in the Galaxy.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wouldn’t reveal more about the film’s other new characters, played by Andy Serkis, Game of Thrones’ Gwendolyn Christie, 12 Years a Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and Girls’ Adam Driver, though she promised “we’re going to have a lot of fun revealing over the coming months.”
But we did get our first good look at BB-8, which rolled onstage around his fellow droid R2-D2, pivoting his head madly—a prime example of the practical effects that Abrams promises will dominate the film. Beebee (is it too early for his “Artoo”-like nickname?) was almost brought to life exclusively through CGI, Abrams said, but it was “better for the actors” to interact with a live droid. (And better for every theatergoer sick of watching actors talk at green screens and moving tennis balls, I’m sure.)
In fact, Abrams sounded absolutely passionate about making his entry into the Star Wars canon feel as magically tangible as the original three films did. “Building as much as you could was a mandate,” he told the audience. “There will be an endless number of effects. We needed a standard. You want it to be legitimate and authentic. The way the light interacts with the set ... It's an amazing thing to be able to watch the movie and see what it is and not have to use your imagination. We actually had those sets there and it was great for the actors too.”
Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, swanned her way onstage to raucous applause, repping the rebellion’s girl power. “I liked being the only one when I was 19. But now I need some backup,” she said about being pretty much the only female fighter in the original films. As for those infamous hair buns? “The buns are tired now,” Fisher said. “So [the character is] probably not going to have the futuristic buns. But we have any alternate thing I think you’ll be into—that is not the metal bikini!”
An emotional Anthony Daniels (C3PO) addressed the 7,500 fans in front of him: “It’s is quite amazing. It’s 40 years since I first met George Lucas and quickly became part of a team that made this crazy little film none of us thought any of you would come to see. … Now there’s even more of you, three generations, who love this story. And of course, 3PO and myself have survived six films. The future? Who knows?”
Hamill reminisced as well, saying, “I remember George calling the first film ‘The most expensive low-budget movie ever made.’ I said, ‘No, I think we’re going to outgross “Planet of the Apes.” The Charleton Heston version. I have a simple message: a simple thank you. If it weren’t for all the UPF (Ultra Passionate Fans) we wouldn’t be here. It never ceases to amaze me.”
Then there’s that trailer. We know it’s Luke spewing those magical words, “The Force is strong in my family. I have it. My father has it. My sister has it. You have that power, too.” But who is he talking to? Who hands who that lightsaber? And what’s up with the present tense in the phrase “my father has it”? (We get a mesmerizing glimpse of Darth Vader’s melted mask in the trailer.)
The trailer prompts more questions than answers. What are Rey and Finn running from? Is Driver the villain inside the mask, wielding that crazy cross-like red lightsaber? Who’s shooting at the Millennium Falcon?! You know what Yoda would say: Patience you must have, my young padawan. Revealed in December the answers will be.