Rian Johnson had the ''time of his life'' making 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'.

The 43-year-old writer-and director has been working hard on the eighth installment of the saga and had a great time because the sci-fi series means so much to him.

Speaking on stage at Disney's D23 event, where behind-the-scenes footage from the upcoming film was shown, he said: ''My friends, whenever I talk to them recently ... ask me what the experience was like, I always come back and say I had the time of my life making this movie.

''Part of that is what Star Wars means to me, and what it means to a lot of us.''

Rian was introduced to the audience at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California by Disney chair Alan Horn, who began the 'Star Wars' presentation with a tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, who passed away in December.

He said: ''I know we were all stunned and shocked that she passed away. She was a very, very special person.

''I know it's impossible to imagine you could love her more than you already do, but you will really appreciate her performance in this film.''

Rian was then joined on the panel by returning cast members Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, John Boyega, who is Finn, and Gwendoline Christie, who plays the formidable Captain Phasma, and newcomers Kellie Marie Tran as Resistance mechanic Rose, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Benicio Del Toro as a mysterious character nicknamed D.J..

The group shared some teasers for the film before the footage was shown.

Referring to Gwendoline's Captain Phasma, John teased: ''Finn's about to have a fight with a formidable opponent ....

''It's going to be ... it's going to be very, very cool.''

The 38-year-old actress described her Phasma suit as ''very empowering''.

And she jokingly added: ''But it can also get very warm, so I tend to pop a casserole into there.''

Kellie Marie is elated to have joined the franchise.

She said: ''I felt like I got the golden ticket and was Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.''

And she was then teased by the director for saying ''pew-pew-pew'' while wielding her weapons during filming.

She quipped: ''I didn't remember that you don't have to say the words you used to say when you were eight.''

Meanwhile, Benicio admitted he had also jumped at the chance to be in the film.

He told the filmmaker: ''I saw the original 1977 one when I was 10, so when you called me up and mentioned the title alone, I was like, 'Let's go.' ''

Rian then introduced a final cast member - Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, and the franchise veteran received a standing ovation.

He said: ''There are so many unexpected elements, which is great with 'Star Wars' because it's getting harder and harder to do that. That's much more artful. I misspeak sometimes.''