I decided to make it an earlier night tonight by a couple hours, so I’m not quite as exhausted as I was when I wrote yesterday’s recap of Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 in London, England.
However, there’s still one more full day’s worth of celebrating the Star Wars franchise left to go, so in the interest of getting a good night’s sleep, let’s go through what happened today at the event.
My first panel this more was “Villains of the Sequel Trilogy,” but in the above embedded tweet you can see a cool moment that happened during the build-up to that discussion– DJ Elliot brought everyone wielding a lightsaber in the crowd up to the stage, dimmed the lights, and had them all ignite their sabers at the same time– pretty neat, right? Then at 11:00 AM it was time for the panel discussion, which was moderated by friend of Laughing Place Amy Ratcliffe and featured actors Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Andy Serkis (Snoke), and Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine / Darth Sidious). This was a very interesting chat between three extremely talented performers who each brought memorable villains to the big screen. Some of my favorite moments included Christie talking about how she pestered her agent to get her into Star Wars Episode VII, Serkis telling a story about how he didn’t recognize Mark Hamill when they first met for a table read, and McDiarmid saying that every time he played Sheev Palpatine it was a surprise to him, because he didn’t have much advance notice leading up to each individual project.
In-between panels, I ran back to the exhibit hall floor for an interview I had scheduled with Hasbro’s Star Wars and Indiana Jones team (coming soon to LaughingPlace.com and the “Who’s the Bossk?” podcast), then returned to the Celebration Stage for “A Look Back at Obi-Wan Kenobi.” This panel was preceded by a fun moment when Ewan McGregor surprised a collection of Obi-Wan cosplayers on stage (see the image at the top of this article) and then the panelists came out for their chat. Amy Ratcliffe led the discussion again, and it was great to hear from director Deborah Chow, the aforementioned McGregor (who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, naturally), Vivien Lyra Blair (young Princess Leia Organa), Hayden Christensen (Darth Vader / Anakin Skywalker), and Indira Varma (Tala Durith). Highlights from this panel included the delightful miss Blair being hilarious and precocious throughout, emotional moments between Ewan and Hayden, and a pretty clever ending in which each participant chose their own favorite scene from the series, it played for a couple minutes on the large screen above them, and then we heard from them about why they chose it.
The next panel in the Celebration Stage was the Disney Parks presentation, which I have to admit was a little disappointing because it came off more as an hour-long commercial for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser than anything with real meat to it. We did get a few minor pieces of news out of the proceedings, including the announcement that Gaya’s music will finally be released as a streamable playlist on May the 4th, plus issued as a vinyl record sometime later on. We also learned from Lucasfilm Story Group member Matt Martin that the upcoming animated series Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures will be visiting the planet of Batuu and Imagineer Scott Trowbridge also mentioned that the beloved Star Tours attraction will be getting new destinations in 2024 at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.
The final panel for me in a jam-packed day was for Lucasfilm Publishing, which for once was not held in the Celebration Stage but on the Twin Suns Stage, which is located all the way on the opposite side of London’s ExCeL Center (I’ve learned to despise the layout of this place over the past few days, but the good news is that the wifi is fairly reliable). But again, this panel felt more like a recap of things that had already been announced as coming up than containing any major news. Still, it was nice to see panelists Kristin Baver (Star Wars: 100 Objects), Adam Christopher (From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi), Amy Richau and Clayton Sandell (Star Wars: Timelines), Cavan Scott (Star Wars: The High Republic – Path of Vengeance), and Charles Soule with his daughter Rosemary (Star Wars: The High Republic – Jedi Brave in Every Way) discuss their work on stage.
Tonight’s afterparty was at the O2’s Indigo venue and featured a band that I had seen perform at Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago– England’s own Blues Harvest, who are famous in the community for covers of songs from geek-friendly 80s films and Star Wars-centric parodies of other pop hits. They put on a great show and it was a thrill to see them live again, but after they wrapped up their set it was time to return to the hotel so I could write this recap of the day.
There’s one day remaining of Star Wars Celebration 2023, and I’m still pretty psyched for it. Even though Sunday wasn’t as news-heavy as the previous two days, it was still a really fun time, and hey– any day I walk away with a new Gaya poster (given away as swag after the Disney Parks panel) is a good one in my book.