In anticipation of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” this week, the Orlando Sentinel asked several notable Central Floridians to share their thoughts about the original movie trilogy and how the saga has made an impact on them and popular culture.
Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
While studying at Brown University in Rhode Island, Dyer saw a midnight screening of “Star Wars.” It was “a different type of movie and everybody was excited about it,” he said. When the Orlando Science Center hosted a “Star Wars” exhibition in 2012, Dyer became an honorary member of the 501st Legion, a worldwide fan group of the film series. Dyer has a stormtrooper helmet at City Hall.
Flora Maria Garcia, president and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida
“Star Wars” didn’t appeal to Garcia when it first came out in 1977. “I had a group of geek friends that were all going to go see it and I just refused,” said Garcia, an art student at the time. Sci-fi wasn’t her thing, she said. Ten years later, she watched “Star Wars” and was “wowed.””It was the best special effects I’d seen since ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”
Beth Kassab, Orlando Sentinel columnist
Beth Kassab, who has watched all the “Star Wars” movies (even the one with Jar Jar Binks), said she’s excited to see “The Force Awakens.” But don’t expect her to dress as Boba Fett or a Wookiee. “While I may not be the biggest ‘Star Wars’ fan, my husband is a pretty big fan and he is doing his best to make sure our children become obsessed with ‘Star Wars,’” she said. Each of her children have their own lightsaber.
Sabrina Ambra, co-host of “The News Junkies” on Real Radio 104.1
Sabrina Ambra’s dad bought a LaserDisc player when she was a kid and the family owned the “Star Wars” trilogy. When she learned how to work the now-defunct technology, Ambra watched the films over and over and over. She’s such a fan of “Star Wars” that she once made a Darth Vadar costume. “It was just pretty much a black bucket that I put on my head, but as long as I had the voice down, everybody believed me.”
Bo Outlaw, former Orlando Magic player
Going to the movies cost money and Bo Outlaw said he didn’t have any growing up, so he didn’t see the first “Star Wars” movie until it was television in the early 1980s. When he did see it, the 6-foot-8-inch Outlaw said he could relate to the 7-foot-6-inch Chewbacca. “I guess because he’s the big one,” Outlaw said.
John Brown, “Good Day Orlando” host
Even before Princess Leia rocked her metal bikini in “Return of the Jedi,” John Brown had his eye on the bun-wearing girl from Alderaan. He first spotted Carrie Fisher’s character when he saw “Star Wars” at a one-screen theater in Troy, Mo. “I had to get the Princess Leia trading card because I had the biggest crush [on her],” Brown said. “ I was only 6, but I knew about girls at that point … I fell in love with her.”