Warning: Spoilers are discussed in this interview.
With Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story now playing in theaters, I recently spoke with screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan about the Star Wars spinoff. They talked about if anything big changed during the writing process, what Chris Miller and Phil Lord contributed to the story, what it was like writing the first scene between Han and Chewbacca, their favorite characters to write for, why Jonathan Kasdan pushed for Bossk, how Darth Maul ended up in the film, and a lot more.
As most of you know, Solo takes place before the first Star Wars movie and follows a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) as he befriends his future copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Solo also stars Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Jon Favreau.
Collider: You guys have been working on the script for a long time. I’m always curious how things change. Did it come close to being a radically different movie, or have a lot of different scenes?
JONATHAN KASDAN: Never. It evolved in it’s writing, and certainly the third act evolved a little bit in terms of where things were happening, but the bones and the structure of the movie were very consistent from our first draft to what you saw. You know, it really had a shape and a story that we were always pretty committed to. The thing is, that when Chris and Phil, who were writers came on, they brought all this stuff to it and all their ideas and creativity, inventiveness, and hilarious comedy. It got a lot richer for that. When Ron got involved he brought this kind of laser focus on story, and character, and emotion. We worked off of his feelings again. I think, honestly, it’s only got closer to the movie that I and Larry had hoped it would be, for all the input we got.
When Han meets Chewie, this is a moment that Star Wars fans have wondered about and have talked about and debated about for such a long time. Can you talk about writing that scene knowing that it’s this iconic moment between these characters?
LAWRENCE KASDAN: We’ve always seen it as a kind of love story between Han and Chewie- to me is a deeper relationship than exists in the saga. We knew right away that they were going to come together in a conflict- that there would be a fight. Chris and Phil had good ideas about the specifics of that scene.
JONATHAN KASDAN: They did. We always wanted it to be a moment- we knew it was going to take place in the battle zone. Chris himself helped us take it further and make it more explicit. It’s one of the gifts they give this movie- the sense of identifying the great joke and expounding on it, and making it fuller and more complete. That scene, by the second or third draft, was really as it was. They were as much a part of that as we were.
Was it ever a different version? Did you ever think it could be something else when they meet?
JONATHAN KASDAN: It was always going to open with animosity between the two of them. It was always going to open with them physically confined together in the same space. The idea of making Chewie the punishment for soldiers who misbehave- that came out of our work with Chris and Phil. It was ingenious, I think.
The movie has some great character moments. I’m curious for each of you- which character was the easiest to write for, and which character was the hardest to write for and why?
JONATHAN KASDAN: The easiest characters, for me, are L3 and Lando because they are me. It’s funny, you know, the first time there is a character that is sort of the best friend- I think I probably said it to you to then too- for me that’s always the most fun character to write; the guy who gets to have the jokes. Ironically, it’s what Han occupied in A New Hope. It’s what Lando and L3 both sort of occupy in this movie. So, they’re a real pleasure to write. I loved it. I could write Lando chronicles forever.
LAWRENCE KASDAN: I love writing Beckett because he represents the whole worldview that the movie is supposed to embody. He has been around, and he has allusions and what he is keeping either directly or by example Han, is to have this view of the world. It’s not nearly as simple as you think it is; that not anyone is trust worthy; you have to go through life with your guard up.
JONATHAN KASDAN: It was an interesting part of working and writing the script together- my dad, who is really a Jedi of the Star Wars universe, to sit there with him, sort of mirrors the relationship between Han and Beckett in it’s own way. I was trying to figure out how to write these movies and he knew how to do it and he had seen the brutal realities of them. He was schooling me and by the end of it I was less innocent than when I started.
(laughs). One of the things that I am always curious about is the canon of the Star Wars universe now. How much, when you’re writing something like this, are you sort of bouncing to the Lucasfilm Story Group, and did you have to make any changes because they’re like, “Yeah, that doesn’t fit into what we have already figured out for the origin of whoever.”