I was born in a galaxy not so far, far away, but it was the same year our favorite fictional galaxy came to an end. Or so everyone thought . . .
The year was 1983, and my favorite of all the Star Wars films (thus far), Return of the Jedi, had just been released in theaters. It would be only a few years before my Dad showed me the original trilogy on VHS for the first time. I think the first time I remember hearing my dad laugh was watching me howl at R2-D2 getting electrocuted by Jawas. He would have to rewind that scene over and over and over again for me. You never forget the first time you hear your father laugh, especially if you’re the one making him chuckle.
For my generation, it makes sense that our paternal figures seemed to be the ones to introduce us to one of the greatest trilogies of all time. I mean, that’s what Star Wars is all about, is it not? “I am your father.” Who is the father figure that introduced you to Luke, Han, Leia, and all their friends?
Recently, a different fatherly figure reintroduced us to the Star Wars universe. J.J. Abrams directed the most recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I couldn’t have been prouder of where he took our characters, both old and new.
J.J. recently came to visit my place of work. The moment he walked up the stairs into the main entrance, I thought it might be him, but when a fellow employee locked eyes with me, I could tell he was thinking the same thing, and that simple moment between us confirmed my suspicions.
“What do we do?! Do we go say hello?” He asked, almost as excited as I was.
“I don’t care what you do, but I’m going to see if he needs help,” I replied, already following Mr. Abrams into a different room.
Sure enough, J.J. did need help recommending a product, which I gladly advised. As I assisted him check out, I asked if he was who I thought he was. J.J. was all too quick to confirm, and I simply just bowed toward the man.
“Come on, that’s not necessary,” he smiled modestly.
I gushed. “Sir, as a huge fan, I absolutely loved what you did with the latest movie. I saw it six times! It was exactly what it needed to be, and I appreciate your work.”
He laughed. “Six times?! You saw it more than I did.”
We continued to talk about some of his other work (I’m also a major Lost fanatic.), and you could tell he was extremely thankful for my kind words of praise even though I’m sure he hears it all the time.
Deep down, J.J. Abrams was an all-around, good-natured gentleman – easy to talk to – and you could tell he was appreciative of all the opportunities life has thrown his way. He most certainly was the perfect “Vader” (Vader means “father” in German) to lead a new generation into such a beautiful universe of love and adventure. You can tell that J.J. really cares strongly about his own Star Wars family, both cast and fans alike, just as the true Anakin Skywalker cared about his loved ones from beginning to end.
Although J.J. Abrams won’t be directing the rest of this latest trilogy, it’s comforting to know that your mentors are as humble as one would hope they would be. With his latest film, however, he reminded me about what makes any Star Wars fans feel so connected to the universe we live in today. It’s not just about the characters we have come to know and love, but rather the characteristics that make those characters who they are. Who we are…
Like the optimism of both Rey and a young Luke Skywalker, or the courage of Han Solo (who was even courageous enough to shoot first!) and the passion for justice in General Leia, or maybe even the smarts of C-3PO and R2-D2 . . . maybe even some of us are tormented by both the dark and light just like Kylo Ren and Ben Solo.
Either way, I know can relate to many of our favorite Star Wars characters. We all can. Perhaps that’s why this amazing galaxy doesn’t feel so far, far away after all . . .
Happy Star Wars Day!