Did we almost have a Han Solo movie before Disney bought Lucasfilm? It certainly seems that way. In a revealing new interview about the inspirations behind Solo: A Star Wars Story, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan reveals he was hired to write a Han Solo film before the big Disney purchase of Lucasfilm.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest Star Wars spin-off film, set in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe now owned and controlled by Disney. But it wasn’t always that way. Before Disney, Star Wars was controlled by Lucasfilm, and while creating more and more Star Wars films is a top priority for Disney now, Lucasfilm almost dabbled in the idea of an expanded Star Wars film universe as well. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, writer Lawrence Kasdan – who co-wrote Solo as well as The Force Awakens, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – confirms that before Disney came in, he was already working on a Han Solo screenplay.
Kasdan says he was brought on to write a Solo-centric film before the 2012 Disney purchase, but after the Disney deal, his attention was turned to The Force Awakens. Afterward, he found he was a bit burned-out on Star Wars, and suggested bringing his son Jon Kasdan in to help write the Solo script:
“When I was done, I was sort of burned out. And I said, ‘I don’t know, do we still want to do this Han thing?’…And they said, ‘Yeah! We really want you to go ahead with Han.’ And I said, ‘Well, my son, Jon, is very enthusiastic and full of ideas about the saga.’ And he had directed two movies and had done other things. ‘What if he came on and worked with me? Because, that would give me a shot in the arm.’ And so, that’s exactly what happened. They made a deal with Jon, and he and I have been writing since for three years.”
The confirmation that Kasdan was working on a Star Wars film pre-Disney deal harkens back to a previous /Film interview with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. In the interview, Kennedy stated that she had previously discussed doing Star Wars films outside of the Skywalker saga with George Lucas:
“I sat with George in April of 2012, and the company was sold in September of 2012, so it was a relatively short amount of time before. But one of the first conversations I had creatively with George was about doing other movies than the saga films. And he had a few ideas he was kicking around but he was very open to where this might go in the Star Wars universe…he was planning to retire. He was talking to me about making these films.”
In the same EW interview, Lawrence and Jon Kasdan both discuss their inspirations for the Solo script. The wide-ranging titles include Treasure Island (previously mentioned as a key inspiration for Woody Harrelson’s character), Michael Mann’s crime-thriller Heat, Clint Eastwood’s somber Western Unforgiven, the Coen Brothers comedy The Big Lebowski, and the British crime drama Gangster No. 1.
Of the Treasure Island inspirations, Jon Kasdan says:
“One we immediately reread was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island because we wanted it to be a boy’s adventure story, but one in which he encounters characters of dubious intent, and that everyone he would encounter would sort of inform his maturation as an adult.”
In regards to the Heat inspirations, Lawrence Kasdan adds:
“We talked about the relationship between Val Kilmer and Robert De Niro in Heat, where there’s a sort of older, wiser criminal, and then someone who’s learning the ropes from them. We wanted this movie to have that flavor and that swagger.”
“There’s a feeling in Unforgiven between the kid and Clint that hits the kind of [apprentice/gunslinger] relationship we were interested in,” Jon Kasdan says of the Unforgiven inspirations.
For The Big Lebowski inspirations, Jon Kasdan comments:
“[Solo] has that flavor of a crime world that has weirdness and surprise and people stumbling into things — and other people very intentionally getting into [trouble] The Big Lebowski is a great example because Solo has a more off-kilter tone than you’ve ever seen in [Star Wars].”
And as for Gangster No. 1, which features Solo co-star Paul Bettany, Jon Kasdan says what inspired Solo was the film’s “combination of class and swagger and real danger.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on May 25, 2018.
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