Plans for the standalone movies, known officially as “anthology” films, began long before Lucasfilm was purchased by The Walt Disney Co. in 2012. Although he is now retired from the Star Wars storytelling business, Lucas gave his blessing to exploring individual characters in one-off films.
“It was one of the first things he sat down to talk to me about: What would those movies be?” says Kennedy, who took over as head of the company in summer of 2012, just months before the Disney sale. “That’s where we discussed not only reigniting the saga, but talking about the standalone, what has now become the anthology films.”
After that conversation, the next discussion was who should write a potential Han Solo history? Kasdan’s history with Star Wars as a writer on Empire and Jedi, as well as his history with Ford, writing the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, helped make him the first choice.
Actually, he had the option to do any kind of Star Wars story he liked. Kasdan said he had turned Lucas down when approached about working on the prequels, yet it was a different sort of prequel that interested him this time.
“They said, ‘Here are the things that we’d like to make movies about,’ and I said, ‘Oh, well, Han Solo. I would write a movie about Han Solo. He’s always been my favorite.’ And that’s the job that I took,” Kasdan says.
Another question is how young they should go with young Han Solo. In the Star Wars prequels, Lucas began by presenting Darth Vader as a mischievous, pod-racing child. They won’t be venturing that far back with Solo.
“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.”
In the midst of working on that story, Kasdan was drafted to work with Abrams on Episode VII, using a loose story outline by Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt. As his work on The Force Awakens became more demanding, young Han Solo was put on hold. That’s when Kasdan, like a benevolent Vader, lured his son to join him on that project.
“Since I did not expect to be sidetracked like this, when I came back to it I said to Kathy, you know, I would like Jon to write this with me,” Kasdan recalls. “I could use some inspiration and Jon is really good, and he’s full of energy for the project, and I said, I think Jon would be a good one to do this. And we went forward that way.”
Now, it seems not only to be clear sailing on that standalone film, but it’s coming together at an accelerated pace after being moved up in the line-up when another Star Wars anthology project hit trouble.