It’s hard for me to believe that the first Star Wars Celebration Europe was almost six years ago. Maybe that disbelief is simply a product of how long I’ve worked on Celebrations – I sure as Sith won’t admit it’s a product of my age – but it is incredible to think that it’s been so long since we produced the show for the very first time outside of the U.S.
That show was not only the first Celebration outside North America, but also a first for some other notable memories.
The 2007 show was the first time we worked officially at a Celebration with the Belgian prop builders and their incredible, movie-real props. Since then we have brought the props and the builders, to Celebrations in the U.S. and Japan. Their creations help fans feel as though they have just walked into the Star Wars universe. Once we worked with them in London it was clear that we needed their kind of creations at all the Star Wars shows.
Actor Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, standing left) talks with Stuart Freeborn (seated, right) the legendary motion picture makeup artist best known to Star Wars fans for creating the creature makeup of Chewbacca and Yoda. Celebration Europe marked the one visit of Freeborn, who came with his wife Kay, to a Celebration. It was an honor for me to spend some time with the Freeborns, as they made their way around the show, clearly enjoying themselves. They visited with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and other actors and crew members they had not seen for years. Watching how the other guests greeted the couple – with utmost respect and affection – was one of the highlights of the weekend.
During Celebration Europe, artist Lawrence Noble sculpted a striking bust of Grand Moff Tarkin, played in A New Hope by Peter Cushing. At the end of the show, an extremely lucky fan was drawn to receive the original sculpture after it was cast.
In London we made our as-yet only attempt to host the striking Darth Vader balloon at a Celebration. The grounds by the ExCeL Convention Center were blustery, and the best that could be done was to inflate the balloon briefly while keeping it tethered. However, even though its time was short at Celebration Europe, photographs by enthused fans were shared to all points of the globe. The Darth Vader balloon was made by Benoit Lambert of Belgium.
Celebration Europe in 2007 marked the first time to date we have hosted Padawan Jedi training in the “jungle” of Dagobah. A different setting then our usual training stage, the set and the eager younglings who trained there were a big hit with the European media.
Every time I look at this photo, snapped early one morning, I imagine the little girl thinking, “Chewie, where are your shoes?”
I took this picture out our show headquarters window before we opened Celebration Europe on Friday. The British Army brought the big green obstacle course, for a “Padawan Challenge.” I admit that I hesitated to have one country’s military represented at an international show, but the fun the British soldiers brought with the course was a huge hit with kids – and parents – from every country.
Each Celebration brings firsts, and we’re working right now on what new entertainment, and what old favorites, will be in the spotlight at Celebration Europe this coming July in Essen, Germany.
For more about Star Wars Celebration Europe, go to www.starwarscelebration.eu.