By: Dominic Jones
Warning: This story contains spoilers from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading now.
Following a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Saturday, the film's screenwriters JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt took part in a discussion about the film. One of the topics they got into was R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker's roles in the film. Arndt stated that he originally had R2 being introduced with C-3PO, saying, "I had originally written R2 and C-3PO showing up together, and Larry very intelligently said, ‘You want to keep them separate from each other. And of course I’m like, ‘No, no, no, Larry. You don’t get it at all!’"
Abrams also explained why it was that R2 woke up at the end of the film, saying, "BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, ‘I’ve got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest? The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up."
Arndt also revealed that early versions of the film had featured Luke in a far more active role, but he explained that it was always to the detriment of the new characters. He stated that,
"Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass. It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012.
It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over,” Arndt said. “Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’"
Entertainment Weekly revealed that the writers considered many ideas for what the film's McGuffin could be, before settling on the search for Luke be what was driving the plot. Apparently these included, "a search for Darth Vader’s remains, or a quest to the underwater wreckage of the second Death Star to recover a key piece of history about sacred Jedi sites in the galaxy."
As for how R2 got the information, Arndt revealed an early idea and then Abrams explained why they left it vague in the film (via EW),
The story group’s thinking went back to the 1977 original movie, when R2-D2 accessed the Empire’s mainframe as the heroes searched for the captured Princess Leia. “We had the idea about R2 plugging into the information base of the Death Star, and that’s how he was able to get the full map and find where the Jedi temples are,” Arndt said.
Abrams says he chose to spell this out indirectly in the movie because he didn’t want the story to get bogged down in “how s–t happened 30 years ago.”
“But the idea was that in that scene where R2 plugged in, he downloaded the archives of the Empire, which was referenced by Kylo Ren,” Abrams said.
I hope video exists of this talk, it would be great to see the writers discuss the process of coming up with the story of The Force Awakens in depth. Also, having Arndt be part of this and hearing how much he influenced the story suggests to me that his departure from the film was far more amicable than some suggested when it was announced.
Source: Entertainment Weekly