The Force was strong at Earls Court last month.
On the weekend of July 11-13, the world of sci-fi, fantasy, roleplay, anime, cosplay, and superheroes rolled up to Earls Court 2 near Kensington in London to celebrate their fandom. Attendees included comics legend Stan Lee, Alien and Indiana Jones star John Hurt, Doctor Who’s Bernard Cribbins and Jenna Coleman, Michael Madsen of Reservoir Dogs, a glut of Game of Thrones stars, a smattering of Star Trek actors from across all series (including Judge Dredd himself, Karl Urban), and even a mat full of WWE and TNA wrestlers. But you’re not here to read about them -- you want to know who was there to represent Star Wars. I can tell you right now that the galaxy far, far away was very well represented.
First off, a little background. Set in the heart of London, Earls Court has been home to sci-fi and fantasy conventions for a number of years, the various transport links making it a rival for other easy access locations across the UK such as the ExCel centre in Docklands -- home of the first Celebration Europe back in 2007 -- and the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham which hosts Memorabilia twice a year. Sitting alongside the older Earls Court 1 building, it allows the event to feel like two conventions brought together, with comic based dealers and guests housed in EC1 and movie and sci-fi in EC2. As it always does, Star Wars dominated EC2.
The roster of Star Wars guests ran the gamut of the franchise, from the very first film -- producer Gary Kurtz, Garrick "Biggs Darklighter" Hagon, and Lord Vader himself, Dave Prowse, represented A New Hope -- through to The Empire Strikes Back with everybody’s favorite card player, gambler, and scoundrel Billy Dee Williams, the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter Boba Fett in the form of Jeremy Bulloch and Bespin Guard Quentin Pierre. Return of the Jedi brought us skiff guard Corey Dee Williams, the always wonderful Femi "Oola" Taylor, Carrie Fisher’s stunt double Tracey Eddon, as well as the menagerie of Paul Springer, Andy Herd, Julius LeFlore, Phil Herbert, Tim Dry, John Simpkin, and Sean Crawford, while the prequel trilogy was represented by Dean Mitchell and the man of a thousand faces Jerome Blake. Covering the two trilogies came the Emperor himself, Ian McDiarmid, as well as two guests from Episode VII. Her royal highness Carrie Fisher was in attendance after Peter Mayhew was sadly unable to attend -- and finally, covering all three trilogies, was the one and only Kenny Baker.
As well as the chance to get the autographs of the stars, there was also the chance to have photos with the guests, and my pal Paul McQue -- better known to many as Bad Robot, who's been pictured with Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams among many others -- grabbed that opportunity with both of his giant rubbery hands. Here’s a selection of images featuring Paul and a number of the featured guests.
Contrary to popular international belief, England isn’t constantly drenched in rain and blanketed by grey skies, a fact displayed to great effect by the blistering weather that weekend and the sweltering heat within the hall caused (so I’m told) by an unfortunate failure of the air conditioning. It was oppressively hot in there, but it didn’t stop tens of thousands of cosplayers and attendees from coming to Earls Court 2 and queuing outside with little more than an ice cream van for company. Indeed, Jedi News comic reviewer Zak PT waited outside from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. when he finally gained entry and enjoyed a slightly less-packed and infinitely less-boiling hall -- now that’s dedication!
(For the record I didn’t queue -- thank Hoth for all access media passes.)
All manner of denizens of the galaxy were trooping the halls as Jawas and bounty hunters crossed paths with stormtroopers and Jedi. Zak had his camera at the ready and took a number of cool images from Saturday, and I covered the events of the day for the 12th episode of RADIO 1138, which hopefully gave a feel for the bustling atmosphere in the room. In the episode I chat with Zak, my good friend and VFX maestro David Guivant (of The Solo Adventures) and Ryan Leston of Yahoo!
There’s a lot to be said for Star Wars mixing it up with the entire geek roster of fantasy, comics, and anime. Like R2-KT in a parade of battle droids, it stands out and only goes to highlight the diversity, dedication, and skill within Star Wars fandom. And what could be more main event than having Carrie Fisher AND Ian McDiarmid at a convention?
Images Courtesy of:
Mark is a long-time contributor to Star Wars Insider, is the co-owner of Jedi News, contributes to the UK’s biggest free newspaper The Metro and is the co-host of RebelForce Radio’s RADIO 1138 podcast. When he’s not talking or writing about Star Wars, he can usually be found sleeping, where he’ll most likely be dreaming about Star Wars.