Part II: Casting
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker): I got a call from George in the summer of 2012. He asked to see us and I thought something was up. My wife casually said, “What if he wants to do a new Star Wars movie?” and I just laughed at her.
Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa): I was at Star Wars Celebration. I was brought into a room and seated at a long table, like we’d have a meeting about the shareholders. Then, it wasn’t about that.
Harrison Ford (Han Solo): George asked me whether I’d be interested in doing it and I said, all things being equal, of course I would.
Hamill: It seemed like I would be the most hated man on the planet if I said no. I think it’s my destiny. Once I accepted we were all coming back, I thought, “Of course we are. It’s important to set it up for the next generation of adventurers.” It’s all about Daisy and John and Adam and Oscar.
John Boyega (Finn): I've got actor friends and kept hearing that everybody else was going up for the part. My friends would come over and do these auditions and I'd be like “What's this for?” They'd be like “Oh, Star Wars.”
Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma): As soon as I heard that they were making Star Wars again, I was like a dog with a bone. Every part I was offered I’d say, “That sounds great but I want to be in Star Wars! Please, please, I want to be in Star Wars.” I was in New York at the Season 4 premiere of Game Of Thrones when I got a call saying I’d got an audition. I had to fly home early for it, just sort of grinning all the way.
Adam Driver (Kylo Ren): JJ had seen Girls and I’d worked with Kathy Kennedy briefly on Lincoln so she had suggested me to him. Girls was his frame of reference but I’m not sure what it was about Girls that made him think I would be an appropriate fit for Kylo Ren!
Daisy Ridley (Rey): I was working at a pub! I actually got my first audition when I was doing Mr. Selfridge. But there was a lot of time in between. There were only five auditions across seven months so I was pulling pints for most of it. Then, when I finally got the part, I wasn’t allowed to talk about it!
Boyega: When I found out I’d got it, I told the taxi driver. A random dude driving a black cab! But he's kept his mouth shut, so it's all good.
Ridley: I told my mum and my sister. My sister didn’t believe me. I told my dad and he just said “I was always a Trek man.” Cheers, Dad! The first time we were allowed to properly talk about it was after the read-through, when they released that photo.
Anthony Daniels (C-3P0): Usually read-throughs are deathly dull. But this was electric! I really, genuinely enjoyed it. I remember just watching Harrison and beaming!
Ford: I probably hadn’t seen Mark for some years. I occasionally run into Carrie, but I don’t see anybody that often! It was friendly, collegial - as warm and fuzzy as you might imagine. It was great to see old friends and it was great to see the new talent that had been assembled.
Hamill: I saw Harry and Carrison again for the first time in many years – and I said ‘Harry and Carrison’ on purpose. I love them both. It’s like one of those pinch-me moments. Is this really happening? When they read the script, I thought the new cast members were so good. The saga is in very good hands.
Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron): That’s when it really feels surreal; when you see Carrie and Harrison, C-3PO and R2-D2 and Chewbacca. These are icons in the flesh. That’s when you get a little bit of chills like, “Wow, this is actually happening.”
Boyega: You know, the funny thing about that photo is you see everyone talking and you think “Maybe they're having a really deep discussion,” but we’re all talking about toast or something! Like “Oh yeah? Do you like it with butter? Oh wow, okay, cool.”
Ridley: I remember really trying to concentrate but [Carrie Fisher’s French bulldog] Gary had a bone and it was just [loud slurping noises] the whole way through. Gross! During the picture I think Gary was drinking Anthony Daniels’ water over the other side of the room.
Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke): My most embarrassing Star Wars moment was the dinner at The Ivy, which was two days before that iconic photo was taken. There were lots and lots of people there – Harrison and Carrie and J.J. and Kathy Kennedy. And then this guy who was sitting next to me goes “Andy, how are you? I’m a really big fan of your work.” I though he was one of the producers, and I said “So what are you doing on this?” “I’m Mark.” And I said, “Yeah, I know but what are you doing on this?” and he said “I’m Luke Skywalker!” He nearly pissed himself laughing and I nearly pissed myself with embarrassment. You don’t expect to be sitting next to Luke Skywalker for dinner, quite frankly!