Harrison Ford brought the force back to movie lovers as he and his Star Wars: The Force Awakens castmates debuted the seventh instalment of the sci-fi favourite. With stormtroopers and franchise staples C-3P0 and R2-D2 in tow, the 71-year-old star joined original co-stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, with whom he filmed the first film almost four decades ago, at the glitzy Hollywood première.
A long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard had been closed to traffic for days ahead of the unveiling. The red carpet at TCL Chinese Theatre – which hosted the original screening in 1977 as Grauman's Chinese Theatre – was three blocks long. On Monday, the film was shown under tight security to 4,000 guests, who were fed at the after-party by Oscars chef Wolfgang Puck.
To the excitement of millions of fans, Harrison reprises his role as Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon ship and 59-year-old Mark returns as Luke Skywalker. Carrie again portrays Princess Leia, now a general.
She looked suitably commanding in a blue gown, but without the signature bun hairstyle that has been copied by little girls the world over. There was plenty of glamour elsewhere, however, with the appearance of new recruits Lupita N'yongo, Gwendoline Christie and Daisy Ridley. Oscar winner Lupita dazzled in a long silver sequined dress, while Daisy was ethereal in white.
Meanwile, director and writer JJ Abrams was seen embracing original creator George Lucas. JJ said of the latest movie in the series, "It's a film about families and what one generation leaves behind another generation has to deal with.
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 15, 2015
"I don't look at the things I do from a vantage point of putting a stamp on it. I'm trying to service the master of the stories and the characters."
What seemed like an army of celebrity fans also turned out, including newlyweds Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey, Elizabeth Banks and Rob Lowe.
West Wing star Rob seemed to sum up opinion about the new instalment when he tweeted later, "There's a new hero in town, in a movie that delivers. Cried like a baby, whooped like a teen! #StarWarsForceAwakens."
But it was really Harrison that the fans had camped out for days to greet. Despite the anticipation, the veteran actor, who attended with wife Calista Flockhart, was on typically laid- back, laconic form, joking, "It's not my fault, we can blame it on JJ. I just work here."