40 Years of Star Wars: SWCO Pays Tribute to the Franchise’s 40th Anniversary and Carrie Fisher

Star Wars Celebration Orlando kicked things off today with a look back at four decades of the galaxy’s most beloved franchise. The panel was hosted by Warwick Davis and highlights the impact the franchise has had on pop culture and the fandom that keeps it going. The event featured Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Dave Filoni, Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Billy D. Williams, Hayden Christensen and a few other surprises along the way. Read on for a recap of the panel.




The panel began with an introduction by Warwick Davis and a short video honoring the legacy of Star Wars fandom. Kathleen Kennedy was the first to take the stage. Kathy talked about how Star Wars would be nothing if it weren’t for a certain special someone…and out walks Star Wars creator George Lucas!



George went on to describe how he came up with the idea of Star Wars and how hard it was to get the movie made initially. Soon after, George’s padawan of sorts, Dave Filoni took the stage, where the two shared what it was like working together during their collaboration on The Clone Wars. Filoni also talked briefly about how social media has really helped the creators and cast members of Star Wars to connect with the fans.



And here comes our first surprise…Liam Neeson, although unable to attend, sent a video where he talked about how honored he has been to have been part of the legacy of Star Wars. He closed his speech with a tease about the reason he was unable to be present – he is filming an unofficial Jar Jar movie exploring the character’s fall to the dark side.



After the video, dark side rockstars Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen made an appearance to talk with George about their favorite memories and funny stories about working in Star Wars. McDiarmid shared his favorite scene to film – the opera scene in Revenge of the Sith – and Christensen joked about how difficult it was to film the lightsaber fights without making the sound effects, having been conditioned from childhood to do exactly that.



Samuel L. Jackson also sent a surprise video where he pleaded with Kathy to bring Mace Windu back – that he would love to be in Star Wars again.



After Jackson’s video, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Billy D. Williams entered the scene. They discuss their Star Wars memories and soon another star arrives – Luke Skywalker himself – Mark Hamill!



Just when it seemed as though things were wrapping up, Harrison Ford makes an appearance (his first ever Celebration)! Warwick teased how difficult it was to keep his appearance a secret given that when his plane arrived he landed it in the middle of the interstate.



Ford eventually plays along when talking about how he got the part for Han in the first place. George asked him if he could fly. Harrison says, “Fly? Yes…Land? No.”



As everyone leaves, George and Kathy take center stage and talk about the late Carrie Fisher. Soon, Billie Lourd, Carrie’s daughter comes out in a dress reminiscent of her mother’s outfit in A New Hope. She talks briefly about her mother and then fans are treated to a truly beautiful and emotional video honoring the life of Carrie Fisher as our beloved Princess (below).





After the video, John Williams makes a surprise appearance to conduct Leia’s theme in honor of Carrie and closes the panel with a mini-concert playing some of the most iconic themes in Star Wars.



What a start to what promises to be an amazing weekend! No big reveals dropped during this panel, but it was still a truly outstanding thing to behold for fans old and new. The legacy of Star Wars has no peer in entertainment and this was an incredible way to celebrate 40 years of that unrivaled legacy.


If you missed the event, I encourage you to go back and watch it in its entirety as it is better to experience for yourself. The panel begins at around the 30-minute mark in the video. Check it out…




Stay tuned to SWNN as we will continue to bring you coverage on Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017. May the Force be with you!



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Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he's not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.

Jordan Pate (Hard Case)

Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he's not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.

22 thoughts on “40 Years of Star Wars: SWCO Pays Tribute to the Franchise’s 40th Anniversary and Carrie Fisher

  • April 13, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Awesome show! Great to put everything live on YouTube! Nice to see everyone on stage, great to see Hayden Christensen again, I hope they put him again in the suit or something like that.

  • April 13, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    It would’ve been nice for the panel to last a little longer because it seemed like some people didn’t get a lot of attention. It was really nice to see George getting all the attention again and the respect they everyone paid to Carrie Fisher was beautiful.

  • April 13, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Can’t wait for the reveals tomorrow!

  • April 13, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    hope tomorrows stream is stable!!!!

    • April 14, 2017 at 1:51 am

      And that the cameraman is not a battledroid, not able to even zoom out.

      • April 14, 2017 at 4:42 am

        The camera work today was pitiful. They didn’t even show the Powerpoint presentation during the Clone Wars panel. I literally had to watch Kristian Harloff’s shitty Facebook video just to get a zoomed-out camera view.

  • April 13, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    George Lucas commenting on the haters like a gentleman.

    • April 13, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      Anyone else noticed Mini Matt the Radar Technician ? He wins the show.

  • April 13, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I hope they upload a complete version of Billie’s speech. The live stream dropped it entirely.

  • April 13, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    As beautiful and moving as the Carrie Fisher tribute was, I’m bummed they didn’t do something for Kenny Baker too.

  • April 13, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    I quite enjoyed it. Not sure Billy De Williams did though- the second they said it was finished he was out of his chair and off :p

    • April 14, 2017 at 12:35 am

      maybe he had to take a dump

  • April 14, 2017 at 1:21 am

    That Carrie Fisher tribute was fantastic!!

    Also, listening to Hayden’s casual speaking voice, I have no idea why Lucas chose him to be Anakin. His voice is way too calm and void of emotion to be a Star Wars character, let alone Young Vader. No wonder all of his lines sounded super forced (that, and they weren’t written very well).

    • April 14, 2017 at 4:27 am

      He was better in his audition but not by much. I think he just liked his look though I think even a D lister like Phillipe would have done a better job.

      • April 14, 2017 at 11:45 am

        I think visually he is perfect as young Anakin. His face can sort of go both ways — he can be a handsome good young man OR a handsome evil young man. Even in his “good” phase there is something demonic lurking beneath the surface, waiting to break out. I think that is what Lucas wanted, and when Hayden finally gets to be “evil” in the final part of RoTS, he performance is pretty decent, I should say. There is still a certain brattishness to him, but that is not necessarily inappropriate; he is drunk on the dark side and still full of youthful passion. The cold, dispassionate Vader of the original trilogy is still far away, and doesn’t instantly emerge even when he gets into the suit and mask.

        One may, however, wish that Hayden had worked more on his line delivery, especially in Episode 2. Or rather: One may wish that he had received proper direction on this point.

  • April 14, 2017 at 1:41 am

    That was a wonderful trip down memory lane for the 40th Anniversary for ANH. But that tribute to Carrie…, I’m still tearing up over it. It was a beautiful memorial for her. I know everyone in the audience was crying. I know Carrie felt the love in the force. I love you Carrie! WE miss you!

  • April 14, 2017 at 1:53 am

    Carrie Fisher: I told Daisy to go through the crew like wildfire.

    Oh my.

    • April 14, 2017 at 6:11 am

      told Daisy *not* to…

  • April 14, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Great to see Hayden again. In my opinion he was great as Anakin.

  • April 14, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Wow!! What s awesome start to the show! I wish I was there. 40 years of star wars and here’s to 40 more. So many talented cast and crew. Loved to see Hayden Christensen back in it. I really hope he gets a cameo in episode 8 and ewan mcgregor. Liam neeson George Lucas Mark hamill Harrison ford so cool they were all there. Carries tribute was perfect. May the force be with you

  • April 14, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Liam sure did an about face on his feelings regarding the PT. Fisher died too young but I’m really surprised she didn’t die younger with all she lived through.

    • April 14, 2017 at 6:49 am

      Do you actually think before you post? Or do you just type vomit?

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