J.J. Abrams Discusses That Scene in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ You Know the One
Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been in theaters for several days, director J.J. Abrams and the cast and crew have been opening up about the particular motivations behind certain choices…like the thinking behind R2-D2's big “awakening” during the finale, or why [REDACTED] shockingly [REDACTED] that one character during that one scene — you know the one. If you don’t, turn back now to avoid spoiler talk.
Abrams and screenwriters Michael Arndt (who worked on an earlier draft of the script) and Lawrence Kasdan participated in a Q&A following a screening of The Force Awakens for the Writer’s Guild of America (via EW). As you can imagine, it was a very interesting talk, though no topic was more compelling than the death of Han Solo.
In a cast filled with exciting characters and fantastic young actors, Adam Driver very nearly steals the show as the villainous Kylo Ren. The Force Awakens reveals fairly early on that Kylo is actually Han and Leia’s son, and his real name is Ben Solo (aww). Abrams, Arndt and Kasdan did a great job of creating a compelling new villain, and Abrams says this is obviously just as much his movie as it is Rey and Finn’s:
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.
One could argue that by making Kylo less mysterious and giving him a real face and clear motivations connected to the other characters makes for a less intimidating villain, but Driver brings some much-needed gravity to the film as the brooding goth dark side fan boy.
Still, he’s no Darth Vader, and trying to duplicate that character would be absurd. Abrams is well-aware of that fact, so he knew he had to do something meaningful to make Kylo Ren effective:
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 fucking 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.
The Force Awakens has a lot of characters, from the classic trio to the new generation of heroes and villains, and all the little supporting characters in between. You have to have a good reason for each of these characters to be on the screen, and Arndt says he questioned Han Solo’s involvement, comparing him to a sexy piece of luggage:
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.
That’s a fairly accurate assessment, given that when we meet Han Solo again, he’s already evolved from the scruffy nerf herder we knew and loved in the original trilogy. Where else does he have to go from there?
Abrams says killing Han Solo off “felt very dangerous,” but that if they hadn’t taken such a drastic measure, “the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all.”
Did anyone actually think we’d see Han Solo live past Episode 8, much less Episode 7? It seemed obvious from the outset that someone had to go, and Harrison Ford was the most likely choice aside from Chewbacca.