Personally, while I was sitting back and witnessing the glorious return of the galaxy far, far away, there were many things I just couldn’t take my eyes off of. And while I can go on-and-on about those very things all damn day, I’m here to only talk about two.
If you don’t know by now, movie scripts go through a rigorous process until the finished product is ready, with some never being fully completed. The Force Awakens went through a solid three years of hard-working adjustments, first from screenwriter Michael Arndt, who was eventually replaced for a revision by director J.J. Abrams and co-writer (and Star Wars legend) Lawrence Kasdan. Now if you’ve seen The Force Awakens by now (I’m sorry if you haven’t…) then you know how many things there are to love. But if you’re like me, you’re wondering what and/or how much was changed throughout the process of writing and rewriting. Not only that, but you’re probably playing the “What if” card like me as well, something that The Force Awakens is definitely not short on.
Now as goes with every film, as it’s released more details begin to emerge. And because it’s Star Wars, details are going to be sought after like no other. Luckily for us, the creators of the film are speaking freely about many things, as much as they can anyway. The best and most intriguing part of the film for me was Rey (Daisy Ridley), which is where we begin. In a post-screening Q&A over the weekend, Arndt, Abrams, and Kasdan talked about the scripts evolution over time, including the difficulty in placing certain characters and plot points.
While answering, Arndt revealed that one of the major issues in the early stages was finding out how to introduce Luke Skywalker. He went on to say that once Luke showed up in earlier drafts, he ended up taking away from the presence our heroine Rey:
“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,” Arndt said. “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.'”
It’s pretty obvious to see how that can be a problem. But to counter that, the finished product brings in Harrison Ford’s Han Solo alongside Rey in the second act and we never lose a single bit of interest in the character as the story moves forward. Then again, although Han Solo is the dude of all dudes, he doesn’t have the same kind of presence in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker does.
From what it sounds like, Arndt’s early drafts always had Luke in mind, bringing him in at some point to further the story in this film, and not just future films. Once Abrams and Kasdan stepped in, the latter is exactly what they went for and is exactly what we got. Instead of relying heavily on a character like Luke Skywalker, the finished product created an entire new galaxy and story while also furthering the one we last saw decades ago. With Luke not showing up until the closing moments, it opens up a very exciting new chapter for the bigger picture because of the story development that The Force Awakens featured.
Moving on to one of the more cooler characters of the new movie, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. For being deemed the Resistance’s “most daring pilot”, I for one found myself having a ton of fun with him whenever he popped up on screen. But by my surprise, the character was suppose to have a very different outcome when Isaac and Abrams first talked about him:
“He’s amazing!” said Abrams. “Sounds good!” thought Isaac, whose first experience in a movie theater had been seeing The Empire Strikes Back. “He opens the whole movie!” said Abrams. “Sounds great!” thought Isaac. “And then,” Abrams went on. “He dies.” “Oh,” thought Isaac.
It’s interesting to learn that the character was first thought of as a one-and-done character, it makes a bit of sense. Some of the nit-picking going around the character is that we didn’t learn a ton about him, not that he is underdeveloped, just that he isn’t THAT developed. That may be because they could be saving his story for Episode VIII or Episode IX, but it may be because he was originally suppose to die. Once Abrams came to his senses and decided to keep the character around, filling the gaps of what was most likely a closely finished script seemed like the best option. Although Isaac was still hesitant towards joining because of the characters eventual fate, he ultimately agreed to do it:
“I went back home [to New York], and I thought about it,” he says. “Then I wrote him and said, ‘Okay. I’ll do it!’ I figured it would be a cameo: I’ll come in, do my thing, and maybe it’s actually better not to have to sign myself up for three movies.” By that time, though, things had changed and Abrams soon wrote back: “Never mind. I’ve figured it out. You’re in the whole movie now.”
To Abrams, this character was a chance to “create a role that could live on in all corners of the Star Wars universe—novels and comic books and video games and so on.” While I completely agree, I’m sticking with what I said above about how we just don’t know Dameron yet. Oscar Isaac is an incredible actor and kills it in the role, but he is the same character at the end as he was when we first meet up on Jakku, which is a bit strange since he is the first character we meet. And like I said above, the character’s original ending might play a part in that. Either way, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this character in future films, there’s a ton of potential there, especially with a name like Oscar Isaac attached to it. After all, there has to be another reason as to why Abrams ultimately decided to keep him around besides playing the Luke destroying the Empire’s Death Star role. Here’s to hoping the character gets the fleshing out we want in the sequels.
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens can currently be seen in theaters.