This week, Daisy Ridley is about to take her first step into a larger world. Some might say that she already did that when she first stepped onto the set of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS last year (working with Chewbacca on her first day, no less), but the real challenge for the young actress will no doubt begin when the long-awaited STAR WARS sequel arrives in theaters this Friday. Sitting down with Ridley at the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Event in Los Angeles last week, it was hard not to be enamored by the youthful enthusiasm, charm and beauty of a performer that's on the cusp of being a household name. As Rey in J.J. Abrams' SW relaunch, Ridley finds herself at the center of one of the most stealthy marketing campaigns in modern cinema - despite her face, and the words "STAR WARS" being everywhere, there isn't much that's been officially revealed about her character or plot until now.... or has it? With the World Premiere of THE FORCE AWAKENS taking place tonight in Los Angeles, the first audience will get to see exactly what Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy meant when she said, "I'm gonna tell you that your daughters are gonna be so excited. This character of Rey is, I think, one of the most wonderful heroines to come along in movie history. So I think they're gonna be very happy. They're gonna have their own Luke Skywalker now." Is The Force strong with this one?

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The Force is Strong with Entertainment Earth as we move toward the December 18 release of J.J. Abrams' STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Those seeking the perfect STAR WARS-themed gift can find many ideas in our 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, but now Entertainment Earth has bundled some of their exclusive items into some gift packages so desirable, even The First Order would be envious. Check out a trio of Entertainment Earth Exclusive STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS bundles - available for a limited time, or while supplies last! Which will you choose - The Ultimate, Action or Awesome bundle?

When it comes to the actors of the original STAR WARS Trilogy, Harrison Ford is arguably the biggest "movie star" to have emerged from "a galaxy far, far away" - his role as cocky smuggler Han Solo serving as a springboard from obscure studio player to Hollywood leading man. Notoriously private and a mercurial man when promoting projects, Ford has a long-held reputation for being a challenging interview subject - one whom after five decades in the game has heard it all, has been asked it all, and will again and again. Perhaps the biggest focus of interview frustration was once Ford's association with STAR WARS itself, with questions ducked, dodged and in some cases, flat-out shut down. Thing is, behind the oft-serious face of one of the greatest actors of our time is that smirk - the same one that helped endear characters like Indiana Jones and Han Solo to audiences on such a mass scale - as if, perhaps there's a little more love for the material than he'd like to lead on, despite a self-professed lack of nostalgia and a stance of just "serving the audience." But here we are, and Ford is back on the interview circuit to discuss his return to the role of Captain Solo - packing a blaster at his side for the first time since RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983, something that no one would have ever expected. This past Sunday at the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Ford started his day with a special sit-down with my group... and in case you had any doubt, I most certainly brought some toys.

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To say that my most recent visit to Los Angeles was "surreal" would border on understatement - stepping into a world that just a few years ago none would've expected, nor believed. Going back even further, the small child that still resides housed in this now 39-year-old body would never understand the weight or gravitas of the situation - STAR WARS is back, and aside from the original era of 1977-1983, there's been no better time to be a STAR WARS fan than now. The Force is strong in our family, my wife and I sharing our love of "a galaxy far, far away" with our daughters - our children finding themselves enchanted with the very stories we grew up on, but now with new tales that we can experience together... for the very first time. Sixteen years had passed between the release of RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983 and the debut of THE PHANTOM MENACE in 1999... "the dark times" bridging the gap between the end of the "Original Trilogy" and the start of the "Prequel Trilogy." Now, in 2015, another sixteen years have passed and we've arrived on the cusp of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, the start of a new Trilogy - but one that unlike its predecessors, will be punctuated by standalone "Star Wars Stories" in between. This week, a little boy that spent countless hours immersed in a world of Kenner STAR WARS action figures nearly 40 years ago would be invited by Disney to take a step into a larger world - the Global Press Event for the launch of THE FORCE AWAKENS... a film directed by another little boy (J.J. Abrams), who's now grown-up and and has taken those toys to help relaunch the Saga for new generations of families to enjoy for a long, long time to come...

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How did I get here? There was a moment of pause that was punctuated with misty eyes as I looked over an itinerary placing me in the same room - and the same table - with actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o and filmmaker J.J. Abrams. What really took a moment to sink in was the other name present - Harrison Ford. This is a man who was there the first time around - when STAR WARS was a new thing, and a little boy named "Jimmy" would spend countless hours having adventures with Ford's dashing smuggler, Han Solo in Kenner action figure form. It was STAR WARS that inspired me to try my hand at working in film and television, and here we are on the cusp of a new film that continues the original saga, with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS hitting theaters on December 18th... and I've been invited to Los Angeles to cover the Global Media Days! While The Force is strong with this adventure, my journey to a galaxy far, far away is just one piece of the puzzle that includes projects from Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel and ABC...

Published in James' Journal

With STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opening in theaters just two weeks from today, excitement for a new journey to a galaxy far, far away is brewing. For the youngest generation of new fans comes a 22-page activity kit and coloring pages direct from the team at Disney & Lucasfilm. There's a memory game, a door hanger, a corner bookmark and tools for a papercraft cockpit and control panel. But for me, the most exciting part is the coloring pages - with kids (or grownups) able to color Kylo Ren, Finn, Rey, BB-8, Poe Dameron and more! The best part? It's available as a FREE Download right now.

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