What does Mindy Kaling, author of two best selling books and star/creator of TV sitcom The Mindy Project, have to do with Star Wars? She's not even sure if she knows, but that didn't stop her from moderating a two-part global press conference for the hugely anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens this past weekend. On Sunday, December 6th, both cast and crew for this franchise expanding sequel descended upon a large white leather couch to talk about all the non-spoilery aspects of the movie. Part one of the conversation has director J.J. Abrams joined by Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong'o, Carrie Fisher and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. The second half features producer and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy joined by Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie.
The second half of the press conference was dominated by questions for Harrison Ford, who tried to open up the floor for the other participants as much as he could. Kathleen Kennedy is quick to reveal that there are no Ewoks in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we only have Harrison Ford to thank for that, as it appears it was one of his few stipulations for returning. About climbing back into Han Solo's boots, the actor had this to say.
"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., whose work I really admired ... it seemed like a good idea. 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 ... it's been a great experience."
Mindy Kaling moderated the Q&A hoping to ask questions that hadn't been asked before. But it was surprisingly challenging for her, due to the fact that LucasFilm and Disney wouldn't even let her watch the movie yet. Perhaps the biggest reveal to come out of the entire 90 minute discussion is the fact that Finn and at least some of the other new actors will return in Star Wars: Episode VIII, which hits theaters in summer 2017. While some shots have already been completed for the Force Awakens sequel, the main portion of the production begins in January. This is what Kathleen Kennedy revealed.
"We haven't mapped out every, single detail yet, but obviously, everybody's talking to one another, working together. And that collaboration, I think, is what's going to guarantee that everybody's got a say in how we move forward with this. And so far, it's going great. I mean, J.J. and Rian already talked at length because Rian's [Johnson] about to shoot shooting Episode VIII. You guys (pats John Boyega on the back) are getting ready to head over in January, and then Colin will start working with Rian and spending a lot of time on set with him."
The stars and creators of Star Wars: The Force Awakens cover a lot of ground over the course of this 90 minute Q&A. We learn new things about the characters. What some of the cast's hopes and dreams for the franchise are. And why Jar Jar didn't make it back for this sequel. But overall, if you are looking for some juicy intel on the actual movie, you won't find it here. The mystery box is remaining in tact until the night of December 17th. Until then, enjoy this chat with people behind what will surely be the biggest movie of the year.