Friday, 18 September 2015

Kathleen Kennedy discusses Han Solo Anthology film

Lucasfilm boss and current Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy has recently been talking up one of the most anticipated of the forthcoming Star War Anthology films, discussing with Entertainment Weekly some details surrounding the standalone Han Solo film.

We know already that The Lego Movie (2014) duo Christopher Miller and Phil Lord are directing the film, and that Lawrence Kasdan (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back) is on script duty with son Jon. So we can certainly expect a funny, knowing, character based film. But what about other specifics? 

Like the rest of us, Kennedy and the filmmakers don't want to tear away all the mystery from the smuggler's past. "Those are exactly the questions we're asking," Kennedy says. "There's got to be a reason for the standalone film to be. And obviously the thing that Star Wars has always done so well is it doesn't spend a lot of time explaining the stories that have come before. We don't want to do that either. We don't want to spend time going back and answering a lot of questions that, quite frankly, I don't think people want answered. I think the key here is that we are identifying an event or events in Han Solo's life that gives you some idea of who he is and why he is the character we love."

And when will we be meeting him in his life? Another concern is that this will be a deep dive back into his childhood, such as Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace's (1999) treatment of Anakin Skywalker. Fear not: "He'll definitely be probably in the high teens, low 20s," Kennedy says. "We're not introducing you to a 10-year-old Han Solo."

But what of the other Anthology movie, which has long been talked about as a Boba Fett adventure? It suffered a setback this year when Josh Trank (Chronicle), who had been in the director's chair, suddenly departed in the midst of talk about the troubled Fantastic Four reboot. "It's still one of the stories that we absolutely want to tell," Kennedy says. "There is a lot of innovative technology in and around what it is we're doing with that story, so for a lot of reasons, we were comfortable postponing that. But we're definitely still developing it." Schedule wise, Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Star Wars Anthologies: Rogue One (which is now in production) will come next, followed by Rian Johnson's (Looper) Episode VIII in 2017, then Solo in 2018, Episode IX in 2019, and the Fett film bringing up the rear in 2020. Most intriguingly, all of this new movement was in discussion even before Walt Disney Pictures bought Lucasfilm.

Flashing back to Solo – and Harrison Ford – for a moment, Entertainment Weekly also talked to Kennedy and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) about working with the man on The Force Awakens, where it appeared he was happy to be back on the Millennium Falcon despite years of seeing the character as less than satisfying. "I think what really got him excited was when he read the first draft, and he saw where we were going and what we were doing. He was immediately on board, and then he sat down and had a great conversation with J.J. and went through, in detail, what we were thinking about doing," says Kennedy. "And then, you know, Harrison – and I've always found this over the years with the Indiana Jones films we've all done together – he's incredibly collaborative when it comes to story and developing his character, and really engaged in the process. And he was every bit that on this film."

And even a piece of the Millennium Falcon set falling and breaking his leg didn't dampen Ford's spirits, according to the director, who was worried that the actor's role would have to change. "It wasn't something that we knew for a little while. When it became clear that he was going to be just fine, we realized we didn't need to change that at all," Abrams says. "In fact, there are some places where he's more active than he was prior to the accident. As you'll see in the movie, he is running and doing more physical activity in this movie than I think anyone who knows he was injured would expect. Nothing was adjusted or lessened because of that accident. Even for Harrison, who is famously resilient and strong, he blew everyone's minds."

The delay in production caused by the accident also proved to be a blessing for Abrams and co-writer Kasdan. "It was obviously a horrible experience that I wish had never happened for obvious reasons," Abrams says now. "But the truth is, once we knew that Harrison was going to be okay, we all realized this was this greatest gift to the movie, and I would think that any filmmaker would say, 'If I could get a break after a month of shooting, for a few weeks, to recalibrate, I would take it.'" For more on Harrison Ford's return to the saga, head here.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to arrive in UK cinemas on 18 December.

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