MouseInfo was thrilled to be asked to participate in the global press conference for the most anticipated film of 2015, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Press conferences are an interesting animal, with at least a couple hundred reporters jostling for the chance to ask the assembled cast and creatives some burning question about the film at hand.
This event was a bit different than most. Security was very tight and we were all instructed to keep mum about where it would all take place. In addition, none of the press had been given the chance to see the film.
Typically the press sees the film a day or so before the press conference – that way they can prepare the questions they want to ask about the film itself. THE FORCE AWAKENS has been so shrouded in secrecy that Disney/Lucasfilm decided to keep the press in the dark until December 15th, which made coming up with questions to ask the impressive cast a bit difficult.
Any Star Wars fan who’s been watching the cast’s myriad media appearances knows that they’ve all been asked the same few questions. “Harrison, what was it like coming back to Han Solo after 30 years?” “Carrie, did you ever think Star Wars would be this big?” “Daisy, why are you British?” and so on.
To combat the droning sameness, actress Mindy Kaling was recruited to moderate the press conference, asking her own questions in addition to those from press in the room. Kaling did a fantastic job coming up with off the wall questions. She asked Oscar Isaac (who plays ace pilot Poe Dameron in the film) which trailer on set was the one everyone would go to to get high and listen to music. She then clarified that of course we’re all professionals and obviously would never do drugs on a Disney set. (Oscar never really answered, if you’re curious)
I had secured a choice seat in the second row, just feet from the vaunted cast. As the first half of the conference neared its close, I wondered what I would ask if I got the chance. I agonized over it. The only thing I knew I really wanted to do was talk to Carrie Fisher.
Sure the new cast members are hot and young. Sure J.J. Abrams is a really big deal. But Carrie Fisher? Princess Leia, proponent of electroshock therapy, author of Wishful Drinking, esteemed screenwriter (did you know she was one of the rewriters on Sister Act?) and nonsensical tweeter. This is the legend I wanted to have a moment with.
I nervously watched the Disney staffer choosing press to hold the mike. I knew I had my chance when the mike had to be passed by me to someone down the row. When it came back, I asked for permission to speak and she nodded. This was it.
Don’t blow it, Drew. Don’t sound like an idiot. Carrie Fisher, J.J. Abrams and a room full of reporters are all going to be watching you. Bob Iger’s standing in the back of the room. Ask something hard-hitting, earn your journalism stripes. You’re playin’ with the big boys.
I stood and Carrie looked at me. The room fell silent. I opened my big dorky mouth.
“There’s been so much amazing publicity for this film, lots of hype and product tie-ins and SNL sketches and all kinds of stuff, and this weekend Carrie’s amazing interview on Good Morning America went viral. And that’s been my favorite piece so far. So I wanted to ask if we can expect to see Gary as some kind of long-tongued alien in the film.”
Now you may be like the hapless reporter next to me who didn’t know who Gary was. (COME ON). Here’s some context in case you missed Carrie’s amazing viral interview:
So NOW you know who Gary Fisher is. The world’s most ridiculous looking celebrity dog. He goes everywhere with Carrie – I was surprised that he wasn’t onstage for the press conference.
I said my piece, sat down and Carrie Fisher let loose.
“I wish! I begged J.J. and Gary was willing to sleep with J.J. to get into this movie.” The audience lost it. “And I mean nap, but still.”
J.J. looked unimpressed. “Yeah, that was the enticement.”
Carrie escalated things, pointing her finger at J.J. “That’s why it didn’t go forward. He didn’t like having him on the set.”
“That’s not true!”
Carrie pretended to storm off the stage. “I’m going to go get Jerry, and Gary wasn’t allowed up here [today].”
Carrie tripped up – said her own dog’s name wrong. J.J. pounced: “His name’s Gary!”
She continued to rail, “He was not allowed here today because of the whole tongue rule.”
Mindy Kaling then stepped in to break up the faux feud and the cast was led offstage so that the second half could begin.
I couldn’t have been happier. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day, and while waiting for some goodies outside the hall, my world stopped when Carrie and Gary walked by.
I let out an uncontrollable squeal as Gary made eye contact with me. “OMG it’s Garrrryyyy,” I said like a five year old girl. One of Carrie’s assistants heard me and laughed.
Gary had ordered a t-shirt and they had come to try it on him. I tried to get some pictures, but Carrie posted a better one to her Twitter that afternoon:
Turns out I was totally ahead of the Gary wave. Entertainment Weekly included my press room fracas in their write-up, even going so far as to quote me (“One reporter” – that’s ME). Since then Gary has become a social media sensation.
He even got to attend the European premiere this week in London. He flew on ANA’s amazing R2-D2 plane from LAX to London, and along the way got some affection from co-stars.
Once in the British capital, he got to walk the red carpet with his mom like the megastar he is:
At that same premiere, Gary Fisher made headlines again for his first encounter with BB-8:
Did basking in Gary and Carrie’s combined glow of gigastardom affect me? It’s hard to say. Adjusting to everyday life since our encounter has been difficult, but just knowing I helped Gary’s star burn a little brighter (and maybe caused a sort of rift between a legendary performer and a major movie mogul) has certainly put a cap on 2015.
I watched the film last night (read our spoiler-free review here!) and kept an eagle eye out for Gary’s long stupid tongue to no avail. Carrie and J.J. were right; he’s not in the film. There’s always Episode VII! #Force4Gary