One of my favorite things about Star Wars is that it’s the sort of thing you always remember where you were and what was going on in your life the first time you saw it or connected to it. Just about everyone has a very personal story about their early days in Star Wars. For my part, I was a young boy of three years old when I first saw Return of the Jedi in a darkened movie theater.
That moment changed my life forever and for the better.
It wasn’t just my first experience with Star Wars, though. The more I think back, I’m positive it’s my first visceral memory.
That’s the power of Star Wars. We all have that moment.
And that’s one of my favorite things about talking to people on the Full of Sith podcast. I get to talk to all kinds of amazing people about their first experiences or vibrant memories with Star Wars and how it affected them. And it’s a question everyone can answer.
I’ll be bringing you some of the best answers we’ve had on the show here to this space, but I wanted to start with a special one.
I spoke to Wil Wheaton and he agreed to do this segment for Full of Sith, discussing his most vivid memory of Star Wars from his youth and it’s quite a touching story. You can listen to it here (as long as you don’t mind listening to my co-host, Consetta Parker, talk about loaning her Boushh costume to The Big Bang Theory‘s Johnny Galecki for San Diego Comic-Con).
You all know who Wil Wheaton is, right? I know, he’s an actor from Star Trek: The Next Generation (and The Big Bang Theory) and is very much a geek icon these days. But bury the hatchet with the Star Trek/Star Wars rivalry and check out Wil Wheaton explaining his most vivid childhood memory of the cultural experience of Star Wars in his own words:
“In 1977 or early 1978 — I guess it would be ’77 — I lived out in the valley, in Canoga Park, when Canoga Park was nothing but farms. We lived behind my great-grandparents’ house on their farm. I had gone to see Star Wars; I don’t remember if we went to see it at a drive-in or a regular theater, I just remember seeing it with my parents and really loving it, and it kind of just grabbed ahold of my imagination, you know, as it did for everybody.
So Darth Vader was going to be at the mall and, for six-year-old me, Darth Vader wasn’t a guy in a suit — Darth Vader was freaking Darth Vader. I went with my parents to the mall, we stood in line and I wore my Darth Vader Halloween costume, which was the mask and then a vinyl apron that says Darth Vader on it and I wore my grandmother’s fancy gloves that were black that went all the way up to my elbow; in fact, there’s a picture of this on my Flickr stream. I went to the mall and stood in line to meet Darth Vader and the thing that I remember most clearly about that is not actually meeting Darth Vader, but all of the other people that were there also dressed as Darth Vader just like I was, including a guy who had built his own Darth Vader costume. He was obviously a teenager or maybe in his twenties and he had built that light-up chest thing, but what I remember is that he had built the whole thing out of hardware, so it was links of chain and washers and bolts and things like that, and his Darth Vader mask was really cool. In my memory it was a perfect Darth Vader mask, but my memory is an unreliable narrator in this particular instance.
I waited and I waited and I walked up and I had my picture taken with Darth Vader and he signed a picture. He signed it “Darth Vader,” and then we went on with our day.
Of all my Star Wars memories, that is the one that is most clear to me, that is my earliest one. I have other ones that are mostly related to playing with Star Wars figures, but that is my very, very clear memory of being maybe five or six years old.”
It’s almost better listening to him tell it, but it’s a great story either way.
It really does leave that mark on people. and I’m glad I’m not the only one.
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