Now that the Force has finally been Awakened, Episode VII director J.J. Abrams, as well as writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt and producer Kathleen Kennedy are letting lots of little interesting tidbits out into the universe. Of course ***There Will Be Spoilers***, so if you haven’t yet seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (my soul cries for you), back on out until after you’ve gone to the theater a time or two.
Han Solo Had to Die So a New Villain Could Be Born.
In TFA at least three new and unsteady heroes (Rey, Finn, Poe) were revealed. Alongside the greatest of the three — Rey — discovering her untapped power, J.J. Abrams wanted to create a villain who he hopes will eventually be worthy of Darth Vader. Instead of introducing a confident, fully-formed bad guy, the writers wanted the audience to see Kylo Ren in-process, a little unsure of himself. By having Ben Solo kill off a Star Wars’ favorite, Abrams made us witness to Kylo Ren’s becoming. (He also unwittingly contributed to what may be the best new Twitter account of 2015.)
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing? We knew we needed to do something f—king bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters. Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain - and not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process. As a father, as a friend to people who have children, I know what it’s like to see struggle, to be part of struggle. I know how painful it can be. I know how real it is. And this is, of course, an insane extrapolated version. Patricide is not ideal. It’s this massive tradeoff: how can we possibly do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
The Force Awakens’ Original Ending Had Han and Leia Reunited.
Before Abrams and Company decided Han Solo would provide the impetus for Kylo Ren’s irrevocable (maybe) turn to the Dark Side, there were plans for a happy ending. Michael Arndt explained why that changed.
“I had thought Han’s story and Leia’s story was just about them coming back together. At the end of the movie they would have reconciled and gotten over their differences. And you would have said, ‘Okay, bad stuff happened, but at least they’re back together again. J.J. rightly asked, ‘What is Han doing in this movie?’ If we’re not going to have something important and irreversible happen to him, then he kind of feels like luggage. He feels like this great, sexy piece of luggage you have in your movie. But he’s not really evolving. He’s not really pushing the story forward.”
Abrams described watching Harrison Ford and Adam Driver film their final TFA scene together.
“It was really chilling. Seeing these two actors, they weren’t chewing up the scenery. They were just doing this thing in a way that, frankly, was disturbing. To see Harrison reach out and touch Adam. I know this sounds stupid, but literally watching it, I forgot — I forgot that he wasn’t his son. He did it so beautifully.”
Don’t Despair; Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma IS an Important Character.
For the many of us who were extremely excited over the pre-release Gwendoline Christie press, her limited appearances were disappointing, to say the least. Producer and president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed that Captain Phasma will have a larger role, saying she has “big plans” for Phasma.
“”She’s an important character, a baddie in the best sense of the word.”
Which Force Awakens Characters Will Return for Episode VIII?
Kennedy also made an interesting reveal about the next Star Wars installment, intimating that we haven’t seen the last of Han Solo. At TFA’s London premiere, Kennedy said everyone in attendance — Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mahew and Harrison Ford — would appear in Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII, which starts shooting next month. So, how will Han return; are we talking flashback, or what?
“There will be a handful of new cast members in Episode VIII but also all the cast members you see here tonight will be in it as well.
We’re excited to get back together. We start shooting Episode VIII in January, we’ve been prepping the movie for the last year and (writer-and-director) Rian Johnson has been doing an amazing job.”
Rey’s Background and Parentage Will Be Revealed Over the Course of the Trilogy.
Abrams knows and wanted to suggest, rather than spoon feed Rey’s backstory. Writer Lawrence Kasdan joked that Rian Johnson will have to “figure that out.”
“Everyone who has seen these movies thinks about ‘I am your father …’ and ‘There is another …’ But neither of those things were in [1977’s original] Star Wars. Star Wars didn’t say Luke was the son of Vader. Star Wars didn’t say Leia was the sister of Luke. You didn’t understand what these references were: the Empire, dark times, Clone Wars. There were these things that were discussed that don’t get explained. George [Lucas] dropped you into a story and respected you to infer everything necessary to understand what you need to know…Can this movie actually also hold, ‘And Rey is this … And Finn is that … And this is where Poe is from …’ This is the first of a series. There is a story to be told. And it will be.”