We were left with all sorts of questions after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens last December, but one in particular stands out – why? Why oh WHY did director JJ Abrams opt to kill off original trilogy star Han Solo (Harrison Ford) at the hands of his son (Adam Driver), leaving the smuggler falling down a shaft dead and fans hearts in a million pieces?
To some, it seemed a cruel or bizarre decision – but speaking in new behind-the-scenes documentary The Secrets of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams revealed that viewers’ mistake was in seeing Han as a main character, rather than someone who was there to pass the torch to next generation stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
“It felt like [the film] was more of a hand-off,” Abrams said in the documentary. “You can’t have that hand-off without cost.”
“JJ and I talked about lots of different things and this is where we came,” added co-writer Lawrence Kasdan.
Ford himself also weighed into the discussion, recalling how he’d been keen to play Solo as a “human sacrifice” as far back as Return of the Jedi after beginning to think there was no point to the character any more. In The Force Awakens, he finally saw this idea realised.
“I was resolved to be useful, to pass on responsibility to others and then get out of the way,” he said.
“We’re not kidding here, this is serious stuff – and we wanted it to be right.”
“It was a necessary moment,” Abrams concluded, adding that the death was also essential to the development of villain Kylo Ren (Driver).
“This is not just the force awakening in a young woman – this is the Dark Side awakening in someone.”
Whatevs, JJ – we’re just gonna go play with our vintage Millennium Falcon and cry some more.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released for digital download on 1st April and the DVD will be available from 14th April, including the documentary as a special feature