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We knew it was coming. And yet, when it happened, it became nearly impossible to hold back the tears. Near the end of the 40 Years of Star Wars panel, held at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida, the bulk of the original Star Wars trilogy cast -- from Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford to Peter Mayhew and Billy Dee Williams -- had joined creator George Lucas on stage. But one person was missing. And Carrie Fisher's loss weighed heavy. This led into a beautiful, teary and heartfelt message from Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy and Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, which we have for you below:
The love and affection that the cast and creators of Star Wars have for the late Carrie Fisher fill the entirety of the enormous fan space of Galaxy Stage at Star Wars Celebration. But there was something unique and special to have the man who first cast her, George Lucas, remembering the Princess he envisioned 40 years ago. It was a bittersweet farewell that he conducted from the stage as he recalled, with his voice cracking every so often:
She wore a dress through the whole thing, but she was the toughest one in the group. And that's the key to Carrie being able to play that part. It was a hard part to play, and she pulled it off brilliantly. And it really shows the level of her talent, and, at the same time, she was fun to be with. ... She was brilliant, and obviously we will all miss her. But she will always be the Princess who took command and never backed down, never was in jeopardy. She was always helping the other guys get out of the messes they created. So that's why we'll all over her forever and ever.
Following the tributes from her director and her daughter, Star Wars really tugged at the heartstrings with this amazing montage of archival (and contemporary) footage of Carrie Fisher on the sets of various Star Wars movies, and related events, over the past four decades. This video captured the pure essence of this blazing star's rebellious spirit. For Star Wars fans, this is a must watch:
And as if that wasn't enough, Star Wars Celebration really pulled out the big guns, when they pulled back a stage curtain and unveiled the Orlando Symphony Orchestra, playing tracks from the iconic Star Wars score... conducted by John Williams! We have a full clip of that performance. Read on to listen to it in full.
Calling him "the special sauce" of the Star Wars universe, George Lucas proudly introduced his long-time collaborator John Williams in the last (and best) surprise for fans in attendance.
The 40 Years of Star Wars panel was a look into this franchise's rich past. On Friday, we dive deep into its future, with a Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel. We will have plenty of stories from that, so keep it locked on CinemaBlend all weekend long.