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Star Wars: Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Gwen Christie, Oscar Isaac

December 16, 2015

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By: Lynn Barker

Harrison Ford is back as Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and we have the interview!  Many years have past. Can Han still fight the bad guys with flair? Joining him is X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron and Finn, a Stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter. Let’s catch up with Han and meet these new good guys plus baddie Captain Phasma.

Han is back in his elementHan is back in his elementCourtesy of Disney

Harrison Ford is, of course, Han Solo, former mercenary pilot of the Millennium Falcon who joined the Rebels against the evil Empire 30 years ago. He and co-pilot/buddy Chewbacca have the Falcon back and are evidently still helping the Alliance now against the First Order “baddies”.

Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron, an ace pilot and a leader in the Resistance's fight against the evil First Order. He soars into battle behind the controls of a modern X-wing fighter. He commanded a squadron in the past with astromechanic droid BB-8 beside him.

Gwendoline Christie plays Captain Phasma, a tough officer in the Empire’s First Order. She wears a reflective suit that is similar to those of the Stormtroopers.

Finn is played by John Boyega. He was a stormtrooper under Captain Phasma and would have been promoted but his concern for human life, both of his fellow stormtroopers and enemy Resistance, finally caused him to defect to aid the Rebels. There is a rumor that he might be the son of  Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams from the first Star Wars trilogy). He meets scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and their adventure begins.

Captain Phasma in uniformCaptain Phasma in uniformCourtesy of Disney

Again, actress Mindy Kaling asks some questions. Where was everyone partying between scenes? Is Harrison glad to be in Han’s boots again? Check it out!

Q: What are your favorite parts of the original Star Wars movies, and how did those moments affect your performances?

  • Isaac: My favorite part, I think, was when in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader's helmet comes off, and you see that he's just a soft, sad, old vulnerable man underneath. I don't know how that affected my performance but that's my favorite part.
  • Gwendoline: I was about six when I saw the film, and I remember being so struck by the character of Princess Leia, and thinking, even then, in my infant mind, this seems different to the other women I see in films and feeling very, very inspired by that and inspired by a woman with such tenacity and being so strong-minded. And I asked Carrie Fisher. I said, it felt like watching your performance implanted a seed in my mind. And Carrie said that she did plant a seed, actually, in my mind.
  • Harrison: I assume you’re not talking about her scene in the snake bikini sitting on Jabba the Hut's lap?
  • Gwendoline: Not that, no.
  • Harrison: That's my favorite (laughter).
  • John: I remember I had screen tested for the part and I heard that I was going to be brought back one last time. And mind you, I had been auditioning for several months and I just needed inspiration and I saw Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill's original audition tape just on YouTube, and that really inspired me to tap into the Star Wars-esque energy because I think that was something I was trying to gauge. And that really inspired me, and I booked it! Thanks, Harrison.
  • Mindy: Mr. Ford. Why are you doing this again?
  • Harrison: It's because it's what I do. It's what I like to do. It's what's fun for me. And the chance to work with people that I really admire, doing something that I thought was going to be fun and which actually turned out to be fun. And to work with J.J. (Abrams), whose work I really admired and long known about, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • Mindy: John, you were in Attack the Block and you are poised in my opinion, to be an international heartthrob. Are you excited about all this?
  • John: Yes.  I'm going to be rich like Harrison. I'm trying to have planes and all that stuff, absolutely.

Chewie, we're home!Chewie, we're home!Courtesy of Disney

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

 

Q: Mr. Ford, can you describe what it means to you to be one of the bridges between the original series and this new generation?

  • Harrison: It's gratifying to be asked to be part of this. There was an interesting story to tell through the character. It's always nice to anticipate working in something that you know people will have an appetite for. This not a crap shoot. This is big casino.  And it's fun to play with these toys again. It's been a great experience.
  • Mindy: Gwendoline, what character would you be if you could be any other character in "Star Wars”? I'd be suited up as a singer in Jabba's band.
  • Gwendoline: That's tough. A character I don't really think I will particularly be suited to but would definitely like to play is, of course, Han Solo. I might have just a modicum of swagger opposed to the Grand Canyon that's at the end of the sofa here
  • Harrison: I'm grateful for the kind attention.

Robot BB8 in Poe's X-WingRobot BB8 in Poe's X-WingCourtesy of Disney

Q: Mr. Ford, what is the biggest difference between this "Star Wars" and the other "Star Wars," and how does it feel being back?

  • Harrison: What is the difference? I think it's hard to say what the difference is. I can tell you how it feels. It feels familiar. It feels good. "It's good to be home," as Han says in the teaser trailer. I'm aware of the value that's placed on these films by the audience, and I'm gratified that the first three have been passed on generationally through families. And there’s still an audience for those of us that were in the original film. There's still some value to them in interpreting life, somehow. And it's a bit of a mystery, but it's very gratifying to be part of that.

Harrison still has that Han Solo vibe!Harrison still has that Han Solo vibe!Courtesy of Disney

Q:  John, being a black stormtrooper, the casting alone made headlines. Can you tell us what you hope people come away from the movie with?

  • John: For me, I've got to be honest. I really don't care about black stormtrooper stuff. I couldn't care less. This is a movie about human beings, about Wookies, space ships and TIE fighters. And it has an undertone and a message of courage and a message of friendship and loyalty. And I think that's something that is ultimately important. I watched the movie just last week, and I really, really relate to Rey more than any of the characters, and to be in a circumstance where you have to find something bigger than who you are, within yourself, is something that's inspirational to me. And I think that people take that away. In terms of the kids, all they're going to be concentrating on is BB-8 (the little robot).
  • Mindy: Oscar, in my experience, there's always one actor on set where everyone goes to their trailer to listen to music etc. Which trailer did you go to?
  • Isaac: I went to my trailer.  It was mostly going between Carrie and my trailers. We’re the party trailers. My uncle's a huge "Star Wars" fan. I mean, he's so obsessed with "Star Wars” 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. He was there just with the dog, Gary Fisher, her dog, just hanging out with them. I said, "Tio what are you doing there? Get out of there."

Poe trading cardPoe trading cardCourtesy of Disney

Q: Star Wars is basically a religion now. Are you prepared to ascend to the level of sainthood? Got any advice for these newbies?

  • Ford: I think my advice is pretty much limited to look both ways before you cross the street, stuff like that but I'm not going to tell them how to navigate this very personal space of trying to figure out the careers that they've chosen for themselves. It is bizarrely individual how you navigate the space between where they're at now and the rest of your useful professional life. But they're in for a big ride. And they know it,
  • John: I don't know if I'm ready for this whole thing. I just know that I'm just in it. It's going to come out regardless. But it should but fine. You'll let me sleep on your couch, after (I make a mistake) right?
  • Harrison: I hardly know you.
  • John: You're just saying that!

Finn joins the rebelsFinn joins the rebelsCourtesy of Disney

Q: Gwendoline, were you prepared for Captain Phasma to become an instant sensation with fans, and do you think that positioned you possibly for a really strong run at the Captain Marvel role?

  • Gwendoline: I was very surprised and heartened at the overwhelming response to the character of Captain Phasma. But I felt that (the filmmakers and J.J.) have been open about the fact that he wanted it to respect the origins of the films and celebrate them but to bring them into the modern day. And confirmation of that seemed to be, to me, in this amazing character of Captain Phasma who is "Star Wars" first onscreen female villain.
  • More than that, this is a character who, so far, we have related to due to her choices and conventionally, that is not how we have related to female characters. So this, to me, felt very progressive. And the response from the audience and the fans has been so celebratory, it makes me think that this is the kind of thing that people want to see. People want to see a more diverse reflection of society. And I feel incredibly privileged to play that part. If anyone else wants to offer me any work then I am very grateful and willing too.

Captain Phasma posterCaptain Phasma posterCourtesy of Disney

Q: There is a lot of secrecy around this film.

  • Isaac: I can't remember the last time I went to see a movie that I didn't know anything about. Maybe it was Boxing Helena. Remember that one? That was the last time that I've ever seen a movie I didn't know anything about. I was in 8th grade and we just saw the poster. They cut of all her limbs. We didn't know that going in.  We just saw like a female body. We’re like, yeah!

Finn confronts PoeFinn confronts PoeCourtesy of Disney

Q: I know you both reprise your roles for Infinity 3.0. (the video game). What was it like?

  • John: Yeah, I've had to go back twice, once for Disney Infinity and the second time for Star Tours, the ride at Disneyland and it's been amazing. It was fun. And the characters in Disney Infinity are more of the child-like versions of the characters in the movie. So that was very cool.
  • Isaac: Yeah, I had never done anything like that before, so that was very fun to be able to do. Yeah, it's slightly more energetic and child-like.
  • John: (strong voice) Yeah, I'm Finn! And I'm in charge now!! Hey!

Rey offers a hand to FinnRey offers a hand to FinnCourtesy of Disney

Q: For the newcomers, how much of your characters' backstories were you told ahead of time?

  • Isaac: I think this has been one of the coolest things about working on this with J.J. and Lucasfilm is that there's been a real sense of collaboration with that kind of thing. We talk about those things, and there was an evolution of the character, even from the first meeting to what ended up on screen.
  • For example, with me, after we started filming, I was talking a bit about just where Poe could have been from. And at the end of  A New Hope at the medal ceremony, one of Guatemala’s claim to fame was that last shot where the ships are leaving had been shot in Guatemala. And for me, the fact that I was born there, and that's a rebel base and I’m a rebel fighter, I thought maybe Poe was there. Maybe that's where he's from. And then this comic book comes out, called “Shattered Empire”, where Poe's parents ended up going to Yavin IV. I think that's the first time where talking about where the character comes from ends up in a comic book. And it's a beautiful thing. It feels like we're creating these things together.
  • John: I didn't know much going in because of the spoilers and that kind of stuff. But I do remember having the sides (short script pages) which were loosely based on who Finn and Rey were. But I just remember during my time screen testing, I was like to Daisy, “There's no way that our stories are so simple”. And we still don't know. So I've still got some conspiracy theories as a fan as to where Finn comes from. And I'm still trying to figure that out. But I like that it's a mystery. I like that.
  • Gwendoline: Mine was similar. I was so heartened that it was a genuine, creative experience to work with J.J. about who the character was and to develop that together. And really without horribly ruining everything for everyone, I think it's interesting to see where my character may go... [laughter] Isn't that interesting?

Finn and Poe PostersFinn and Poe PostersCourtesy of Disney

Q: You are obviously huge fans. What is your favorite rumor?

  • Isaac: That Jar Jar Binks is Kylo Ren. I kind of wish that could be true.
  • John: I remember this theory that Finn is Mace Windu's grandson. Something like that? And I was at a party, and someone behind me just tapped me on the shoulder and was just like, “Yo. Black Jedi!” I turned around and it's Samuel L. Jackson, “He’s my son!”.

Q: Mr. Ford, how difficult was it for you to slip back into the role, and how did you prepare? Is it easier to originate a role or come back to something familiar?

  • Harrison: It seemed easy to come back to the character. Clothes make the man. I've walked more than a mile in those boots. I was interested in the described path of the character. I thought there was an interesting bit of business for the character to do. And I've been having a real good time with J.J. Abrams talking about it and getting ready for the adventure of filming. So it was easy.

Han Solo PosterHan Solo PosterCourtesy of Disney

Q:  John, I don’t think it’s a secret that you end up using the Skywalker legacy lightsaber. How did that feel?

  • Finn: Oh, I was very excited to use that thing because I think blue suits me. And it was amazing for me to read the whole script and to find out all the things that Finn gets to do. It’s like “Did J.J. know what kind of fan I was when it came to "Star Wars" and write this role for me”? Because I get to wear a stormtrooper suit, a rebel jacket. I have a blaster. I use a light saber. I hang out with fricking Han Solo and Chewie. It's just fantastic!
  • Mindy: Isaac, is there any romance for Poe in the film?  
  • Isaac: Mostly with BB8 (the robot).  It's true. Inter-droid. Yeah, there's a real warmth there, there’s give and take, and that's who's got his back in that X-wing. So that's it if there's any real romance for Poe, it's with those two little balls.

X-Wing fighter pilot Poe DameronX-Wing fighter pilot Poe DameronCourtesy of Disney

Q: What did you think when you saw Harrison as Han Solo again?

  • John: There was a moment on the Falcon where Harrison, you had the blaster in your hand, and you were trying to skillfully put it in the holster. And Harrison stood there and me and Daisy were just behind the camera like, this is fricking insane. Harrison is fricking right there! But we had to do a scene together and not freak out. It was like mesmerizing to see Harrison in this environment, in the movies that we absolutely loved. And it was good to see you with Chewie. We freaked out, but we didn't show you nothing. We tried to keep it professional for you.

Star Wars The Force Awakens is in theaters Friday, December 18th

Star Wars: The Force Awakens PosterStar Wars: The Force Awakens PosterCourtesy of Disney
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