Course of the Force: Star Wars Changed My Life

Chris Hardwick | July 5, 2012

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I was born in the 70s. I don’t remember much of it, other than seeing Steve Martin live in Vegas with my parents, “Bewitched”, and a vague notion of un-ironic green shag carpet. My greatest memory from the otherwise greasy time period was undoubtedly seeing Star Wars in the theater on opening weekend. My dad and I had dropped my mom off at the airport back in the days when you could smoke on planes and walk people to their gate. We left the terminal and went straight to a movie theater to see what this space movie business was all about.

One hundred and twenty-five minutes later (no, I’m not counting the previews for whatever disco-themed movies probably ran) my brain was altered. A New Hope had grabbed my tiny imagination by the scruff and shook it for all it was worth. I saw the movie again. And again. And again.

Soon I started collecting the action figures—enough to fill TWO Darth Vader head carrying cases. My favorite was the paper shredder-shaped and oft overlooked astromech R5-D4. I liked that he was orange and that you could stand him on his head. As a kid, Jedi was my favorite of the original trilogy, because it answered everything I wanted to know and also was the most huggable. As I grew older, the darker, more intense themes of Empire resonated with me. Still, nothing could ever supplant the space on my heart-shelf for Episode 4, which widened my universe for what a movie could be.

It may be no surprise, then, to learn that getting the privilege of visiting Skywalker Ranch and be allowed to see the original EVERYTHING was a wildly emotional experience. I’ve been to MANY Cons. I’ve seen lots of R2 units and Threepios—many of them REALLY impressively constructed—but to see THE Droids…like, the ones…from the movies…was a kind of star-struck I didn’t know I had left in me (sadly, no R5). It was so crazy how an inanimate object could hold so much warmth and condensed childhood for me, but that’s what happened. It was part of a tour we were given when my business partner Peter and I pitched Course of the Force, our charity lightsaber relay that is upon us in just a few days.

I tell this little backstory to share with you my love of—and devotion to—all that is Star Wars. Currently, we’re in a sliver of time where Nerds are the cool kids. This makes me happy, as I was mercilessly tortured for being into the things I loved when I was in grade school. The upside for Nerd culture is, we now get big budget sci-fi/horror/comic book movies but the downside is that inauthentic people and companies are scrambling to capitalize on what this coveted demographic is into so they can squeeze money out of it. But I don’t work that way. I love what I love and I strive to work closely with those things.

My girlfriend’s father, John Dykstra, happens to have helped develop the FREAKING LIGHTSABER. He did the visual fx for the first film. Now I’m not saying that’s why I’m dating her, but it certainly put a big check in the “Pro” boxes.

I’ll level with you: you’re going to be seeing a lot of me hanging around this digital Cantina. Please know that I DO appreciate this gift I’ve been given. Please also know that Course of the Force is a dream come true for me. And getting to host Star Wars Celebration in August means more to me than any words I could possibly mash together.

Though I am but a Padawan and many times succumb to my emotions while finding difficulty with authority, I understand the weight of these honors and I will not let you down! Thank you reading this unsolicited mini-bio. You are nice!

Stay on target,

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