There’s some very weird Star Wars history behind Emilia Clarke’s Solo character name

And here’s the surprising reason Qi’ra was changed for Solo: A Star Wars story

Emilia Clarke is Qi'ra and Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars story (LucasFilm, HF)

There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Emilia Clarke’s Solo: A Star Wars story character Qi’ra, from how she ended up in a life of crime to what exactly her plans are by the end of the new prequel movie.

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However, a particularly odd detail fans have been puzzling over for a while is her name – because it’s also the name that was originally intended for Daisy Ridley’s Rey in The Force Awakens, albeit spelled differently as Kira.

This fact was revealed during set leaks for the 2015 movie that betrayed a lot of the film’s original plot (some of which was changed) as well as official concept art for the film, and was later confirmed by Ridley herself in an interview.

“[JJ Abrams] told me it was meant to be Keera,” Ridley told V Magazine.

“And then, when we were already shooting in Abu Dhabi, he told me that he was thinking of going with Rey, which I thought was frickin’ awesome.

“But because I had to audition so much and everything, I never really had a conversation with J.J. about it until I had read the script. So, I had no sense of what I was getting into. No sense of what was really going to happen or what anything would entail.”

And so the name – again, possibly spelled differently – was abandoned, until it was resurrected for Emilia Clarke’s character in Solo, this time again spelled “Kira” in the earliest reports about the film before it changed to Qi’ra more recently. Notably, Solo and The Force Awakens share a screenwriter – Star Wars veteran and Empire Strikes Back scribe Lawrence Kasdan – so it could be that the character name is a personal fancy he’s been holding on to for a while.

But the mystery only continues. When we put it to Clarke herself, she had no idea about the name’s provenance, but suggested a reason why it went from Kira to Qi’ra by the time of the film’s release.

“I know that they were struggling with the spelling, because in another language it meant adult chicken, “Clarke told RadioTimes.com in a video interview. “Yeah, true story. So Kira the adult chicken.”

Having looked into this, we’re not sure exactly which language she means – words for chicken in Slovak, Hungarian and even Welsh have a similar sound, but not the same spelling – but for films where international markets are crucial, such a double meaning could be a real headache.

In fact, this could even explain why Kira was dropped in the first place from The Force Awakens, with Abrams deciding to have something less potentially silly for his new hero – but in our minds it’s more likely that he just decided he preferred another name more, and it was Solo’s production where the “adult chicken” issues began.

It could be that the change in spelling brought up by this translation happened quite late in the day. After all, how much easier would it be to change the spelling of the name from Kira to Qi’ra after the film had started shooting, rather than change the character’s name entirely? Qi’ra’s name is never written down in the film, and the two are pronounced identically, so it could be that this was a last-minute change to avoid any humorous comparisons without having to adapt the film itself. That certainly seems to be what Clarke is suggesting, anyway.

However, it could also be that the name was changed to avoid direct comparison with the other times it’s cropped up in the Star Wars universe, which are plentiful to the extent that many fans have wondered if the frequent use of Kira is some sort of elaborate Easter Egg.

Over the years it appeared in the now non-canonical Expanded Universe media, with a Rebel Alliance officer called Kira Lar, a scout called Kiras Torla and a Jedi called Kira Carsen.

There was also a noble family known as the House of Kira who popped up in the comic-book story Empire’s End as allies of Leia, with various characters using Kira as their surname and the whole brood living in Kira Fortress.

And that’s not all. A role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe called The Twin Suns of Kira established a whole corner of the galaxy called the Kira system, with planets called Kira I, Kira II, Kira III and Kira IV, until most of them were blown up and the resulting asteroid field was named Kira Prime.

As noted, most of these details are now non-canonical – when the Force Awakens was looming, Disney and LucasFilm decided to wipe the slate clean so that any new films wouldn’t be hamstrung by decades of stories set post-Return of the Jedi – but there IS still a planet called Kira in the canonical universe. It pops up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Beginner Game, a roleplaying game released to tie in with Episode VII.

It’s entirely possible that in this case, the name was included as a little nod to Rey’s original moniker – an Easter Egg that few would notice – or it could be that like the Force, in the Star Wars galaxy, the name Kira surrounds us and binds us.

We can hardly wait for its next mysterious (and oddly misspelled) appearance.

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Solo: A Star Wars story is in UK cinemas now