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9. May 2014 06:48
by jedi1

Star Wars Episode VII A New Hope (really)

9. May 2014 06:48 by jedi1 | 0 Comments

Luke, Leia and Han are back! The inside story of director J.J. Abrams' quest to return cinema's greatest space saga to its roots. New Entertainment Weekly article by Anthony Breznican.

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LOOK HOMEWARD, Skywalker. We never thought we’d get back to this galaxy so far, far away— and even if we did, we never expected them to be waiting for us: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and especially the itinerant rogue Han Solo. No world revolves around one person, but at its core the Star Wars universe has always hinged on these three. The Beatles never played together again. The original Ghost-busters are now a thing of the past. And E.T. won’t be phoning us anytime soon. But Star Wars...Star Wars is now getting an encore. How in Hoth did that happen?

The first glimmer came in October 2012, when the Walt Disney Co. bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion and announced that a new trilogy—picking up after the events ofl983’sRetum of the Jedi—would be heading to theaters. J.J. Abrams, who had relaunched the Star Trek franchise for Paramount, signed on to direct in January 2013, and Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher declared that they'd be open to coming back. Even Harrison Ford, who had spent the past three decades throwing shade at the space saga, didn’t immediately balk. Word spread that the new film would take place 30 years after the fall of the Empire, sparking hope that the veteran stars might return. And then...silence.

When announced the Episode VII cast on April 29 in a group photo of a script read-through on a soundstage at Pinewood Studios outside London, fan-sites lit up in a collective global cheer. On the list were Ford, Hamill, and Fisher—not to mention C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)—along with newcomers John Boyega (Attack the Block), Adam Driver {Girls), Andy Serkis (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Daisy Ridley (a total unknown).

Here is where the official information stops. Abrams and his team have locked the cast and crew (and their reps) into what must be the most ironclad vow of secrecy in film history. In his famous 2007 TED talk, Abrams presented his mystery-box theory: “Withholding of information... intentionally is much more engaging” Basically, he ain’t talking. These days, with online leaks and teasers, it often feels like you’ve seen a movie months before it’s out. And Abrams is facing a huge challenge: making a beloved but battered franchise seem fresh. Giving away the store before the film’s Dec. 18, 2015, release won’t help.

Still, EW was able to confirm a few extra details, all from sources with direct information about the project who spoke on condition of anonymity. First, casting began in earnest in January, but at press time several roles had yet to be filled, including a major female part. Second, the initial Episode VII script penned by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) has been significantly overhauled by Abrams and cowriter Lawrence Kasdan. That stalled the casting process, as characters and plot details shifted. One thing that never changed: Hamill, Fisher, and Ford had been locked in years ago, before Disney ever purchased Lucasfilm. They were so essential to relaunching the series, in fact, that George Lucas himself secured their commitment before the sale.

Though they played coy about their involvement (except Fisher) and their respective financial deals took a while to settle, their participation was considered vital. Sources vow the three will all have significant roles. Ford’s Han Solo, in particular, is considered a co-lead, alongside three of the younger actors. (Just who is unclear.)

This reunion would have been impossible only a few years ago. All three leads have a complex, often conflicted history with the franchise. Hamill has always poked fun at Luke’s whiny and naive moments, and Fisher has made a career of affectionately spoofing her gold-bikini days. Ford, however, was just blatantly hostile. As far back as 30 years ago the actor said he was “glad to see that costume for the last time,” and as recently as 2008 he called Han Solo “dumb as a stump.” Not only that, he has more than once lamented that Solo wasn’t killed off in the earlier films. Ford’s disdain was a major sore point with fans, not just because the star didn’t enjoy Solo but because he seemed annoyed by those who did.

So whatever Episode VII becomes, it has already brought a reconciliation of sorts between Star Wars' greatest character and the man who brought him to life. What changed? Those familiar with Ford say he simply began to soften. The 71-year-old attended a 30th-anniversary screening of The Empire Strikes Back in 2010 to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and he’s had more fun with Star Wars ever since—even staging a mock feud between himself and Chewbacca on Jimmy KimmelLive!

Now the captain of the Millennium Falcon has at least one more flight in him. And— no spoilers here, just speculation—maybe Ford will finally get to do what Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Jabba the Hutt never could: put an end to Han Solo once and for all.

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[Source: Entertainment Weekly May 16, 2014 #1311 digital edition. Copyright © 2014 Entertainment Weekly Inc. All rights reserved.]

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