For some, the new movie, which premieres Dec. 18, means a chance to relive the fond memories of first seeing Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Darth Vader in “Star Wars: A New Hope” in 1977. For others, it’s a chance to tap into one of pop culture’s most beloved franchises.
For sure, the force of “Star Wars” has left distinct impressions.
Over the past year, The Bee asked movie and TV stars to share their memories from first seeing “Star Wars.” Here’s what they had to say:
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Ronald D. Moore
There have been few people working in the TV and film industry over the past two decades who have had more influence on the science fiction genre than Ronald D. Moore.
The Chowchilla native was a co-producer on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” created “Roswell,” re-launched “Battlestar Galactica” and wrote “Caprica.” It’s also been announced he will write the TV series “Star Wars: Underworld.”
A lot of his passion for the genre was sparked when he saw “Star Wars” for the first time.
I watched it five or six times that summer.
Ronald D. Moore
“I vividly remember seeing it for the first time. I was 13 years old. I didn’t see it the opening weekend but probably a month or so into its run,” Moore says. “It was the first movie I got to see by myself. My mother drove me to Fresno. Dropped me at a movie theater on Blackstone.”
It was always his habit to sit in the second row. Moore found that spot in the middle of the theater. He sat there with a huge tub of popcorn as the Star Destroyer passed into frame above his head.
“It was a revelatory moment,” Moore says. “I watched it five or six times that summer.”
David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle in “Arrow,” was a big fan of anything science fiction when he was growing up in Detroit. He loved any TV show that featured costumed characters doing incredible things. And he loved going to the movies.
Seeing “A New Hope” with his father had a major impact on him.
“I saw it in 1977,” Ramsey says. “I remember how big and awesome everything was because I was so young. I remember it being overwhelming. Obviously I hadn’t gone to a lot of movies because I was only 6 years old. But, my father was amazed. He was my rock. So, to see his face was how I assessed how big ‘Star Wars’ was.”
Grant Gustin, the young actor who is playing The Flash in the CW Network series, wasn’t born until 13 years after “Star Wars: A New Hope” opened. So he’s more of the “Star Wars: Phantom Menace” generation.
But he still remembers the first time he saw “A New Hope.”
It just blew my mind.
“I was probably 8 when I finally saw ‘A New Hope,’ ” Gustin says. “Ironically, I just watched a YouTube video of a 5-year-old British kid with his dad watching ‘A New Hope’ for the first time. I had similar reaction. It just blew my mind.”
Wentworth Miller, who plays Captain Cold on “The Flash,” was born in England. He recalls vividly how much of an impact seeing the first “Star Wars” movie had on him.
“I remember going home and immediately started to draw every frame of the movie. I must have gone through 10 reams of paper,” Miller says. “I took all of those drawings and bound them together. Then I presented them to my mother. She was like, ‘What am I looking at?’ ”
Dominic Purcell, who plays Heat Wave on “The Flash,” was born in England and raised in Australia. But, that didn’t stop him from seeing the first “Star Wars” movie.
“I remember being blown away by the outer space, that little robot and Chewbacca,” Purcell says. “It’s a classic film.”
Josh Hartnett, best known for his work in the films “Pearl Harbor” and “Black Hawk Down” and the TV series “Penny Dreadful,” was born the year after the first “Star Wars” movie opened. That meant he wasn’t able to be part of the original furor around the movie.
But, he made up for that quickly.
“Everything in my life was ‘Star Wars’ when I was a kid,” says Hartnett, who grew up in Saint Paul, Minn. “I got every action figure I could get my hands on. My dad limited my access. He wouldn’t let me buy everything.”
He was so in love with “Star Wars” that when his father – and the woman would would become his stepmother – went out on their second date, Hartnett asked her if she wanted to go see “Return of the Jedi” with him.
Actor Thomas Jane was living in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., when “Star Wars” opened. He was 8 years old.
“When my parents took me to see ‘Star Wars’ there was a line around the block. That was a new phenomenon for me,” Jane says.
He had never been to a movie where there was a long line of people waiting to get into the theater. He couldn’t imagine what was happening.
“Sure enough ‘Star Wars’ was happening,” he says. “People were in line to see it the third, fourth, fifth time. The line was repeat business. No one had seen anything like that before.”
Dee Bradley Baker
No one has played more characters in the “Star Wars” universe than Dee Bradley Baker.
“It’s thousands if you count all the clones. And, I count all the clones,” says Baker, who works on the animated series “Star Wars Rebels” and has worked on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars: Detours” and the “Kinect Star Wars” video game.
“This is something that I have loved since I was a kid. I always show around the picture of the Jawa costume my parents made for me the Halloween after a ‘New Hope’ was released in 1977. This is something that has definitely been on my radar all my life,” Baker says. “To be involved in something that you really loved deeply as a kid, but to be in it is living a dream like no other project that I have been involved with.
“And, it is such an enduring and beloved and interesting and rich universe that continues to expand makes it even better. It’s not a quick thing but part of this living and growing mythology that covers are planet. It’s a remarkable thing. I don’t know what to compare it to. It’s fantastic.”
Brandon Routh who took on the icon role of the Man of Steel in the 2006 offering “Superman Returns” and who showed up on “The Flash” and “Arrow” to play Ray Palmer, remembers what it was like to see a “Star Wars” movie for the first time. He wasn’t born when the first “Star Wars” came out, which explains why his first memories are of “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“I’m remembering see stuff on Hoth when I saw the movie with my uncle when I was 6,” Routh says. “I had seen the movie before – I think. But, I vividly remember sitting in his armchair as it was playing on TV. It was a magical experience.”
Routh adds that he had a friend who had all of the toys so everyone would go to his house.
He’s really excited about seeing the next installment in the franchise.
Tim Kring, a writer and executive producer on a long list of popular television shows including “Heroes” and the upcoming “Heroes Reborn,” grew up in Santa Maria but saw “Star Wars” for the first time in Los Angeles.
I had never experienced anything like that before.
“It was at the Chinese Theatre. I think it was the first week. All I know is that I stood in line to see it,” Kring says. “I was from a small time in Central California so even coming to Los Angeles to see a movie was a big thing.”
Kring clearly recalls the opening of the movie.
“All I could think about was, ‘What planet am I on?’ I had never experienced anything like that before,” he says.
He calls seeing “Star Wars” a seminal moment in his life because the film helped him make a decision about seeking a career in the film industry.
During a chat with Kadeem Hardison on the set of his Disney Channel series, “K.C. Undercover,” the topic turns to “The Force Awakens.”
Hardsion was 12 – the perfect age to be impressed by a movie – when “A New Hope” in 1977. He clearly remembers his first time watching Luke, Leia and Han save the galaxy.
We stood in line for four hours. I think I saw it four days in a row. Every day I went back for the first show.
“I saw it at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York,” Hardison says. “We stood in line for four hours. I think I saw it four days in a row. Every day I went back for the first show.”
Hardison didn’t just go for four days. As soon as one screening finished, he would get back in line to see the movie again. This process went on all day long.
The actor, best known for his work on “A Different World” before becoming the dad/spy on the Disney cable series, had never seen a movie that many times in a theater.
“What grabbed me was this was a story about outer space. I don’t remember a lot of fantasies about outer space and lives in outer space that had those dimensions,” Hardison says. “It was about family. The creatures. Everything just came together to make me think that’s what space travel would be like.”
Sharon Leal, who was drawn to acting and singing while attending the Roosevelt School of the Arts in the late 1980s, remembers seeing the movie in the Valley.
“I was in Atwater,” Leal says. “I went with my baby sitter and some neighborhood kids to see the movie.”
Leal would have only been 5 years old when “Star Wars: A New Hope” was released. But, the reason she remembers the movie so clearly is that there was a packed house at the theater. The only other film she can remember with such a full audience was “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
“I remember the movie blowing my mind,” she says.