An afternoon in Tokyo for a tête-à-tête with director JJ Abrams and his cast barely a week before the latest instalment of Star Wars hits the marquee
On December 11, the day 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' team consisting of director JJ Abrams, actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver decided to speak to the media in Tokyo, the weather Gods played truant. A photo call event at the Disneyland had to be cancelled due to incessant rains and strong breeze. Later, however, the team addressed the press in the glittering ball room of Sheraton hotel, situated right next to the Disneyland.
(From left) John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, JJ Abrams and Adam Driver with BB-8 at the press conference for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. pic/Getty Images
JJ said 'Star Wars' works mainly because the core of the story has always been about humanity that seems to transcend through cultures, and this time too, they have come up with a unique story set around two young actors (Ridley and Boyega) with the evil part being played by yet another young actor (Driver).
Speaking about Ridley's character Rey, he says, "This is a young woman with a strong character and a huge heart. Her first friend comes in the form of this droid, BB8."
Driver, who plays the evil Kylo Ren, elaborates how he was fascinated by the awesome, original trilogy by George Lucas: "'Star Wars' is almost like a historical person now and you can open your imagination, steal things from the character and disregard elements that don't work for you. I watched all of them and learnt a few things that I didn't know earlier. There was already so much storytelling in the costume. You see the helmet and then you notice that you can't see his eyes and you are forced to look into something deeper."
When told that the look reminds one of Samurai fighters, Driver said, "Lucas was influenced by (Akira) Kurosawa's films, as we know, so I went back to watch those , including the 'Seven Samurai'."
What made him choose those particular actors to play such strong characters, JJ said in jest, "Because they were available," before adding, "The truth is that we were desperately looking for young actors who were talented and strong and versatile enough to be a part of Star Wars, which is an enormous responsibility. It is so much fun to watch these young actors take on the mantle. Star Wars has always been generational; the appeal of each of them can be spectacular that it can go in any direction, but the core of it is always a lot of heart, humour and humanity. These young actors have a great sense of humour and I can't tell you how necessary that is, not only on the sets but also to bring these characters to life."
Ridley pitched in to say that it was amazing to work with the senior actors attached to the film. "Anyone who loves Star Wars loves Harrison Ford. He is kind and funny and never made me feel like I was working with someone out of reach. The other two actors, Carrie (Fisher) and Mark (Hamill), came in with so much enthusiasm on the sets that it was incredible."
Though not willing to let out any secrets, JJ just said that this one has a Tokyo connection — he has named one planet in the film as Takadano. He says, "The first time I came here, I stayed in a hotel called Takadanobaba. This is my way of honouring my favourite city."
Later, at the conference, the media was introduced to BB-8, as the droid trooped in on the stage amidst much applause.