Warning: This story contains MAJOR SPOILERS from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading now.
Even though many predicted it may happen, the ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was still a shock to all. Seeing Han Solo stabbed by his son Ben "Kylo Ren" Solo and then falling to his death was an emotional and devastating twist for the film. Director JJ Abrams and his co-screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt spoke about the reasoning behind this scene at a recent Writers Guild of America Q&A.
“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.”
“All of us bring our own experiences to it. 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.”
He also added,
“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.”
Screenwriter Michael Arndt, who was involved in the early story process, added,
“In my early drafts, my thinking was we had to bridge the end of Return of the Jedi to what happens in this movie, and we didn’t want everybody to start off all together. We wanted them to be spread all throughout the galaxy.”
“We came up with a backstory that Luke had a pupil who turned against him and fought him, and killed all the other pupils, and that was a thing that exploded the family and destroyed Han and Leia’s relationship.”
“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.”
As for what it was like to be on set when the scene was filmed, Abrams said,
“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.”
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