'Star Wars' creator George Lucas on creating the franchise, casting Hamill and Ford

PHOTO: Peter Mayhew, left, as Chewbacca and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in a scene from "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope."PlayLucasFilm/IMDB.com
WATCH 'Star Wars' Celebration

“Star Wars” Celebration welcomed George Lucas to the stage Thursday for its 40th anniversary panel. Lucas answered questions for over an hour and shared stories from the sets.

Interested in Star Wars?

Add Star Wars as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Star Wars news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

Host Warwick Davis and Lucas first spoke about how Lucas came up with the idea for “Star Wars” more than four decades ago.

“It was more that I’d like [back then] to make an action movie ... but imbue it with mythological, psychological motifs,” he said, later adding that "it’s a film for 12-year-olds."

Lucas said he wasn't sure if "Star Wars" would get the studio's backing.

“If you have two films that aren’t successful, they don’t want to see you," he explained. Luckily, a head at 20th Century Fox saw one of his earlier movies and loved it.

"He [then] fought for ['Star Wars'], he helped me make it," Lucas said.

Other actors from the films like Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Ian McDiarmid (The Emperor) took the stage to chat with their old boss. McDiarmid spoke about meeting Lucas for the first time. He said he didn’t know what the part was, until his agent told him “Emperor of the Universe.”

“[I said] Oh I guess we’re doing it,” he joked.

McDiarmid returned for the prequels to play the same, sinister role.

Later, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) also regaled fans about creating their characters, but Lucas explained that Chewie, who was inspired by his dog Indiana, was almost cut from the film.

In fact, he cut the Wookies out of an early draft, but “decided to save him and make him the co-pilot."

The biggest applause came at the end, when Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) stepped onto the stage to talk about being cast all those years back as relative unknowns.

On casting Hamill as the hero Skywalker, Lucas said the goal for the actors was to play their characters "as old friends."

Ford, who did carpentry work before "Star Wars," said he was installing a door for Francis Ford Coppola at a studio when he ran into Lucas one day.

“One morning, in walked George with Richard Dreyfus,” Ford said. “He was having, I thought, an interview for a new science fiction film ... so we chatted. I was working, making a living happily. [After getting his big break as Solo] I still am [working today] so thank you very much,” he addressed the director.

Ford got the part in the end because of his response to a question Lucas had asked him.

"This is all about space ships, do you know how to fly?" Lucas said.

Ford replied, “Fly, yeah, land?” (Ford was alluding to his recent accidents while piloting his own planes).

Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson

Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson sent video messages, delighting fans with "Star Wars" humor.

Neeson joked, "I'm actually making a movie about Jar Jar Binks and what happened to Jar Jar. Spoiler alert, he did go to the dark side."

Jackson still holds that his fallen Jedi Mace Windu didn't die in "Revenge of the Sith."

“We know Jedis can fall from incredible heights and survive, so I’m not dead … Mace Windu is awaiting his return, let’s make it happen," he said.

ABC News Digital will be on the ground in Orlando, bringing you all the big "Star Wars" developments, so check back for more.

ABC News and Lucasfilm are both part of parent company Disney.