Both movie stars and fans turned up in full force for the world premiere of one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Reuniting the cast of the original trilogy, the seventh instalment in the sci-fi saga made its official debut at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on 14 December.

Returning cast members and fresh faces remained tight-lipped over the film's plot details but said they hoped fans would enjoy the new movie, the first Star Wars feature for 10 years.

"I mean, you have all these sense memories going, popping off in your head because the smell of it, the sitting where Chewy played chess or whatever that game was, sitting in the cockpit, all of that. I mean, you know, it's like going back to your old school, you know, when you were in second grade at college. You just can't imagine the kind of flood of memories it brings back, and good ones too," said Mark Hamill, who started with the franchise in 1977 as Luke Skywalker.

Lupita Nyong'o, who plays Maz Kanata in the new film, was rueful that with The Force Awakens' imminent release, its secrets would no longer be hers to keep. She said: "I'm a little disappointed, to tell you the truth. I was enjoying the secrecy because I got to have a secret that everybody else wanted and now I get to share it but at the same time I'm extremely excited for the fans to own this and that's what it's made for. It's made for the world to watch."

John Boyega, who plays Stormtrooper Finn, wore a black glove at the premiere, in tribute to Luke Skywalker, whose right hand was famously cut off by his father, Darth Vader, in The Empire Strikes Back. He said: "Yes, this is Luke Skywalker and an homage to Luke Skywalker and an homage to being a fan of this movie and Mark was just like, 'that one hurt'. I'm sure it did mate, I'm sure it did."

For director JJ Abrams, when asked what he was going to do now, after years of creative brainstorming and long hours, had only simple needs in mind. "Well, we have an excellent mattress and I'm going to invest a lot of time getting to know it. That is the honest truth," he said.

Also on the red carpet were Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Ford believed the tight lid the film-makers put on the storyline had paid out in the end and was the right decision. He said: "Well I hope they have because I want the audience to get their money's worth. I want them to pay their few dollars and sit down and not have it spoiled for them. I think that's only fair."

Disney is guarding details about the plot of The Force Awakens. The secrecy has stirred rampant online speculation, particularly about the fate of Luke Skywalker, who is absent from trailers and posters promoting the new film.

Aside from fan anticipation, the movie faces lofty box office projections for the opening weekend, from $170m (£112m) to $220m in just the US and Canada, a level never achieved in December. Jurassic World holds the record with $208.8 (£138m) million in June. The new instalment in the Star Wars movie saga opens in UK cinemas on 17 December and in the US the following day.