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10 things we learned at today's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel

10 things we learned at today's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel

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This morning, J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy kicked off the annual Star Wars Celebration convention in a very big way. Original cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew were all there (Harrison Ford couldn't make it due to his recent plane crash), as well as new cast members: Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega. And then, of course, there was the trailer — and the first new look at Han Solo audiences have gotten in 32 years.

We learned a lot of new information, so we've collected it all here for you. Here's everything we found out about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That wasn't Tatooine we saw in the first teaser.

The first teaser last December featured a sandy planet that many naturally assumed was the series mainstay Tatooine. It turns out, it wasn't: it's a planet called Jakku, and is home to Daisy Ridley's character.

J.J. Abrams originally said no.

While we knew there had been some back and forth before Abrams agreed to direct the project, he explained that when producer Kathleen Kennedy originally approached him, he declined because it didn't fit into the larger plan his family had in place. However, once he started brainstorming what a new Star Wars movie would look like, that changed.

That new droid BB-8 is real.

The strange, whirring, soccer ball-meets-R2 unit droid we saw in the teaser? It turns out that thing is actually real. Mark Hamill told this to Yahoo Movies back in December, but seeing is believing. Abrams and the film's team brought out an actual working version of the droid onto stage, as it rolled around, looking back and forth at R2-D2. We don't know how they're pulling it off exactly, but it's full of personality — and is no doubt going to be a tremendously fun character in the film.

Wookies like to get behind the camera, too.

Abrams showed off several behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the film, including him directing a Stormtrooper and a moment with a very familiar-looking furry creature.

They built several new R2-unit domes for The Force Awakens.

Some of the designers from the new film explained that they created multiple, squared-off domes for new R2 units in the film. They'll be seen in action with X-Wing pilots in the movies. They're known as R0 units — and one of the crew's personal favorite is R0-LO.

Who is Rey?

Daisy Ridley revealed that her character Rey works as a scavenger at a shipyard on Jakku. That is, until she crosses paths with another character — and everything changes.

Who is Finn?

John Boyega silently conceded that his character was a Stormtrooper — but what kind of Stormtrooper, or whether he was a "good guy or a bad guy" is still up in the air.

Who is Poe Dameron?

According to actor Oscar Isaac, Dameron is "the best pilot in the galaxy" who is "sent on a mission by a princess." This puts him squarely in the Han Solo seat, and according to Isaac, Dameron ends up teaming with Finn. After that, "their fates are forever intertwined."

John Boyega was scared to tell his family he was in Star Wars.

The actor was so superstitious at the prospect of being part of the saga that he was reluctant to tell his parents he was cast until the official cast photo was finally posted online. Even though he was going out on meetings and reading script pages printed on an impossible-to-copy red paper, "I just told them I was filming 24."

There are more female characters on the way.

There had been a lot of criticism about the initial Star Wars casting announcements because Daisy Ridley was the only woman — an issue that affected the original trilogy as well. While several additional actresses have since been cast in The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy went out of her way to point out that many more female characters would show up in future films. "I wouldn't have had a lot of choices" if she wanted to pick what Star Wars character she would be as a child, Kennedy said. "That's going to change."