Star Wars

April 19, 2015 | 8:52 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Billy Dee Williams insists he’s no smooth operator

Billy Deel Willaims, who played Lando Calrissian in the original "Star Wars" trilogy," spoke on the final day of Star Wars Celebration. Above, the actor is seen in 2001. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
For his panel Sunday afternoon at Star Wars Celebration, Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back” and 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” was billed as the “Baron of Smooth.” But as he took the stage at the Anaheim Convention Center on the final day of the fan expo, the actor insisted that – notwithstanding Calrissian’s undeniable suaveness and those old Colt 45 commercials – his reputation for smoothness was overstated. “I don’t know why everybody thinks I’m smooth,” said Williams, who turned 78 this month. “I think I’m just a pretty silly person, really.” Fans listened respectfully throughout an hourlong conversation as Williams talked about his early roles in films such as “Brian’s Song” and “Lady Sings the Blues,” his more recent stint on “Dancing With the Stars” and his love of painting. But […]
April 19, 2015 | 2:17 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Tattoos, a convention tradition

Vinny Romanelli of New York City gives Angela Byrd an angelic R2-D2 tattoo at Star Wars Celebration.  (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
“Star Wars” fans, if this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim is any indication, are a patient lot. Thousands camped out Wednesday night to be in the same room as director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and lines to buy exclusive convention merchandise could stretch up to three hours. That’s about how long, for instance, it took me to purchase a wall clock in the shape of Salacious B. Crumb, the rat-like pal of Jabba the Hutt in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.” Others waited an hour or so to purchase ornaments. Some waited for love (speed dating sessions for men seeking women were booked by Friday morning, dashing my hopes of a “Star Wars romance) and still others waited hours for a glimpse of new video game “Star Wars: Battlefront” or a chance […]
April 19, 2015 | 1:17 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Gareth Edwards reveals ‘Rogue One’ plot details

Director Gareth Edwards discussed "Star Wars: Rogue One" on the final day of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Just days after releasing the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Lucasfilm pulled back the curtain a little more on the future of the franchise at a Sunday morning panel at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, offering a sneak peek at the first of a series of spinoff films, “Star Wars: Rogue One.” While details were scant — the film is still in pre-production and isn’t due in theaters until December 2016 — director Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”), joined onstage by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, revealed that the plot centers on a small band of rebel soldiers (including actress Felicity Jones) who unite on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The film is set between the last of the prequels, “Revenge of the Sith,” and the original 1977 “Star Wars,” making it essentially “Episode 3.5″ […]
April 19, 2015 | 8:37 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Mark Hamill talks of being ‘drafted’ for ‘The Force Awakens’

Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill, who portrayed young Jedi Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy of “Star Wars” films, offered a chilling alternate timeline for this December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in core space fantasy saga. What if he said no? Speaking Saturday night at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Hamill regaled a packed auditorium with tales of “Star Wars” past and present. Hamill spoke of how “Star Wars” creator George Lucas first broached the subject of a new trilogy of films, shared details about the difficulty of working with a Jedi Master puppet in Yoda and said he initially viewed “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams with a hint of suspicion. The talk brought to a close the the third day of the four-day fan expo, one that over the course of the weekend has featured droid races, speed dating, costume […]
April 18, 2015 | 7:15 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘The Force Awakens’ is a ‘transference of generations’

Images from the new teaser trailer (#2) for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." (Lucasfilm)
Forget the shiny digital gloss that marked the three “Star Wars” prequels. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming seventh episode in the space fantasy saga, drew its primary inspiration from the late 70s and early ’80s look of the original trilogy, said key members of the new film’s visual effects team on Saturday at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Speaking on a panel on the third day of the four-day fan expo, the effects wizards assured fans that “The Force Awakens” emphasizes characters over digital magic. “It’s almost liked ratcheting it down,” said Christian Alzmann, part of the production team for “The Force Awakens.” Alzmann, who worked on “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” was asked how the J.J. Abrams-directed film would distinguish itself amid today’s landscape of effects-heavy genre films. “To me, there’s almost like […]
April 18, 2015 | 6:39 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Fans explore all corners of the convention universe

Fans watch the Builders Astromech Droid Race semi-finals. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
The Mos Eisley Cantina theme played over loudspeakers on the Anaheim Convention Center’s second floor as 13-year-old Zachary Clayson, clad in Jedi robe and tunic, maneuvered a remote-controlled yellow robot to where a young woman was standing with an infant. The little robot — a replica of a “Star Wars” hangar deck scrubber droid — nudged the woman’s ankles. She smiled and bent down, giving the baby a closer look. “My favorite part of Star Wars Celebration is probably just driving this thing around and seeing people’s reactions when they see it,” said Clayson, who traveled with his father from the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the fan expo. At Celebration, the big panel presentations with the likes of J.J. Abrams, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels may be generating the most buzz online, but for the estimated 60,000 “Star […]
April 18, 2015 | 2:56 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Familiar faces return for ‘Rebels’ season two

Scene featuring Darth Vader from the second season of "Star Wars Rebels." (Lucasfilm)
Executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg were joined by members of the cast of “Star Wars Rebels” on stage Saturday to give fans a peek at what was ahead for the show’s upcoming second season. Based on the first official trailer, they’ll get a lot of chilling Darth Vader action, plus the return of some familiar faces from the previous “Clone Wars” animated series, including Ahsoka, Captain Rex and Hondo Ohnaka. And there were many other bits just glimpsed in the three-and-a-half-minute trailer. “There are things designed to hit you immediately,” Filoni said at a press conference following the panel. “As you watch a trailer over and over, if they’re designed well, the are layers and there are things you see and you get a little more out of it. It keeps you engaged.” While he wasn’t elaborating too […]
April 18, 2015 | 9:10 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

Anthony Daniels
If C-3PO brings a little comic relief to the “Star Wars” saga, then the man who inhabits the robot, Anthony Daniels, is the one who brought the humor to Star Wars Celebration. While fans may have wanted dirt on the upcoming J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Daniels instead wanted to dish on unfortunate product placement and the uncomfortable places sand can find itself in a robot suit. Daniels treated his hourlong discussion Friday night at Celebration as if it were a variety show, playfully flirting with an audience member dressed as C-3PO’s robot companion, R2-D2, and interjecting numerous jokes into his tales of “Star Wars” past. The conversation brought to a close the second day of panels and discussions at the four-day fan expo, one that had earlier hosted lively conversations with the likes of Carrie Fisher and Ray Park. A fan […]
April 17, 2015 | 6:14 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Carrie Fisher takes fans on a racy date with a princess

"Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher, joined by her dog Gary, talks onstage during her presentation at Star Wars Celebration on April 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
If Carrie Fisher has anything in common with Princess Leia, the forceful character she made famous in the “Star Wars” films, it might be her impulsive attitude. In her Friday afternoon Star Wars Celebration presentation, Fisher, 58, told racy jokes, autographed the host’s shoes, took pictures with fans and even planted a long, wet kiss on a member of the audience. What she didn’t do was talk much about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming seventh installment in the space opera and a main focus of the fan expo, which runs through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center. Fisher reprises her Leia role in the new film, due out in December, but said she couldn’t “figure out what I was supposed to not tell.” “I think they keep me away from stuff because they know that I have an […]
April 17, 2015 | 5:28 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Ray Park on his beginning and Darth Maul’s end

Darth Maul (Lucasfilm)
Ray Park has gotten to be in some high-profile projects. Snake Eyes in “G.I. Joe.” Toad in the “X-Men” films. The martial artist even got to play Chuck Norris  in “The Legend of Bruce Lee.” But killing a Jedi puts you in a whole different stratosphere of fandom. As Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” Park helped create the most well-known and popular villain in the franchise since Luke Skywalker’s dad and fellow Sith Darth Vader choked out his first victim. And in the panel “Ray Park: The Man. The Sith. The Legend” at the Star Wars Celebration, Park was treated as the royalty that befits any wielder of a double-sided lightsaber. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Darth Maul. It was the best feeling in the world to get […]
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