J.J. Abrams Explains How He Got Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy Actor to Return for 'Rise of Skywalker'

The writer-director talked to 'Vanity Fair' about the new movie.

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J.J. Abrams attends the European film premiere of 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' at Cineworld Leicester Square on 18 December, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

If you saw The Rise of Skywalker at some point over the past 10 days and wondered how they got Harrison Ford, a man who publicly revealed that he wished George Lucas had killed off Han Solo in 1983's Return of the Jedi, to reprise his role in the franchise then you're in luck, because J.J. Abrams divulged as much in a piece published by Vanity Fairon Monday. 

First, for context, though Han was killed off by his son Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens (2015), he briefly came back in the most recent movie as a memory of his disillusioned offspring after the boy's mother, Leia, persuaded him to come back from the dark side with help from the Force

Apparently getting Ford to come back wasn't super difficult, as it seems Abrams just had to get the OG Solo to understand why a brief return made sense for the story. 

“Well, I called him and I said, ‘We want to have a scene in the film between Kylo Ren and his father, would you do it?’ And he said, ‘Okay,’” the writer-director said to Vanity Fair

“(...) We had a meeting and talked about what it would be. Harrison, who is one of the great people ever, and incredibly thoughtful about everything that he does, all he ever wants is to understand the utility of the character. 'What is my role?' It was about sitting with him and explaining what our intention was. We talked about it for quite a while, I sent him the pages. He got it, and of course, as you can see, he was wonderful.”

Abrams' co-writer for the film, Chris Terrio, also explained the idea behind bringing the elder Solo back, while emphasizing that the scene being referenced was not a force ghost, and instead was being played out inside Ren's head.

“At least for J.J. and I, we thought that this finally was Ren, after the death of his mother, being able to really ask for forgiveness, to ask his father for forgiveness, and make some kind of peace,” Terrio said. “He cannot go back and take back what he has done to his father, but as Han says, ‘Your mother's gone but what she stood for and what she fought for, that's not gone,’ so he still can make amends in the future.”

Abrams added that he told Ford that Han's presence was necessary “to have Kylo get to dramatize the thing that he’d been playing some form of [in his head].”

“[Ren] was sort of suppressing and rejecting what he had done,” Abrams explained, while alluding to a line that Kylo said in the franchise's preceding film, The Last Jedi, about killing the past.

“Why do you think he wants to kill the past? It's like there's this thing that is haunting him. It's not until he's shown compassion by Rey that he allows himself to have that conversation,” said Abrams. “It’s the thing that will crush him, and the idea that he knows the spirit of his father would give him permission and encouragement to go to the light side.”

Read the whole thing at Vanity Fair if you wish.

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