6:20am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Writer Talks New Mythology and Celebrity Voices
There has been another awakening, it seems.
To celebrate Star Wars Day, TT Games, Warner Bros Interactive and Lucasfilm has released a new trailer for the upcoming Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, teasing the all-new stories set to debut in the game. Wondering how the Rathtars came to be on Han and Chewie's ship, or what Max von Sydow's character was up to before he met with Poe Dameron at the start of the movie? Now, finally, you can find out.
The six new adventures available in the game are:
- Rathtar Hunting – Follows Han Solo and Chewbacca’s voyage to capture the ravenous Rathtars.
- Lor San Tekka’s Return – Uncovers secrets behind Lor San Tekka’s journey to the Jakku Village.
- Poe to the Rescue – Details Poe Dameron’s daring rescue mission to save Admiral Ackbar.
- Crimson Corsair – Explores how the notorious Outer Rim pirate, the Crimson Corsair, foiled the plans of the First Order.
- Trouble Over Taul – Follows the events leading up to C-3PO’s acquisition of his new red arm.
- Ottegan Assault – Reveals a puzzle piece to how the Resistance and the First Order find Lor San Tekka on Jakku.
Additionally, the new trailer reveals that the game features voice acting from Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie and Max von Sydow, each reprising their Force Awakens roles with all-new dialogue exclusive to the game.
THR talked to Graham Goring, lead story designer at TT Games, about the process of adding to Star Wars mythology, the importance of background characters, and how surreal it can be to work with your childhood heroes.
Just to clarify: Is that really Harrison Ford saying the words, "Don't forget the wookiee cookies for Chewie?"
(Laughs.) That is Harrison Ford saying "wookiee cookies," yes. It's amazing. He came in, and said the lines as written. He didn't balk at "wookiee cookies," bless him.
The characters in Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens are actually voiced by the actors who play them in the movie, which is unusual for the Lego Star Wars games, at least. Was this all recorded during the movie shoot?
This was all done afterward. Everyone came back to record their lines. There's a lot of cache in putting out a Lego game, you cannot underestimate that, but I also imagine lots of lawyers talking and pushing out contracts to make it happen.
It is kind of crazy that, basically, everyone is back to reprise their roles. It is amazing. If you'd told me 10 years ago that I'd be writing dialogue for Han Solo, and it would be performed by Harrison Ford, I'd be all, "Get out of town and keep going out of town" in very strong terms. (Laughs.)
Did you know that would be the case while you were working on the game? I imagine it would be daunting, to say the least.
It is slightly paralyzing because you realize, that's an awful lot of responsibility on your shoulders. But in terms of how the cast falls into place, you're not always sure who's going to be saying these lines — and then it turns out to be, oh, it's everyone from the movie. That's a moment where you think, I'm really glad that everyone at Lucasfilm was looking at this script and giving it the a-OK before we record things. I would hate to go into the recording sessions and hear, "I don't think these are called 'Rafters,' I think they're called Rathtars."
If ever there was a time when you'd want to rework everything right up until the last moment …
They all kind of make it their own in the [recording] sessions. For example, with Anthony Daniels, it's Anthony Daniels doing C-3PO. Nobody knows C-3PO better than Anthony Daniels, because C-3PO has always been Anthony Daniels. So I would meet him before the sessions and we'd do rewrites because he knows the character best. They've been playing the characters onscreen, so they all tweak it to be more like the way that character would speak. Even if it's all signed, sealed and delivered when we go into the session, there's a little bit of leeway there.
Talking of things being daunting, you're adding to Star Wars canon with this game.
Well, it's not really canon. If you watch the movie, it's not like they're little Lego people. I think the word canon is a strong one to use.
Star Wars mythology, perhaps? You're getting to tell new stories for characters who have only appeared in one story so far — and, in some cases, barely. You have more screentime for the Crimson Corsair or Lor San Tekka, Max von Sydow's character, in these new adventures than in the actual movie.
It's not as if Force Awakens has a massive cast. If we're going to do six new adventures, then really, once you've done four of them, you've used up the main cast of characters, so you do have to look elsewhere. I really like that — when I first saw Star Wars, I was really interested in these background characters that were only on the screen for a few seconds. I thought, "I'd really love to know more about them." And really, poor old Max von Sydow. He pops his clogs pretty fast in the movie, so I think it's great that you get to spend a lot more time with him in particular, and there are all these cool background aliens, I think it's lovely to be able to explore the expanded galaxy of characters that they have.
How did you decide which new stories to tell? Was this something that Lucasfilm offered up, saying, "These are characters that we'd like to see more of"?
We'll have been working on this game for about 18 months by the time it actually comes out, and we always knew this extra content would be in there. Luckily, we have a great working relationship with Lucasfilm, so they were happy to tell us, "These are questions people will have," "These are background stories that you can tell in this game." It was amazing that we get to tell those stories first in a lot of those cases. It was mostly up to the design department when it came to coming up with stories for the new adventure levels. For example, we knew about the Rathtars [in the movie], but I'm not sure who approached whom when it came to wanting to do something with them. The design team would bat it back and forth and I would write dialogue, add a lot of jokes and generally make sense of the level for the players.
Was there a lot of oversight from Lucasfilm when it came to the dialogue?
In terms of, not originating characters, but getting to put words into characters' mouths where they didn't get to talk a lot in the movie, like the Crimson Corsair, I had a remarkable amount of freedom. It's kind of gobsmacking to get to shape these characters that — like me with the original — there will be kids who watch the new movies and think, 'Oh, that's my favorite character, even though he's only onscreen for half a second.' Because it is Lego Star Wars, we're given a surprising amount of latitude, in the same way that, if you play in free play mode, you can play as Han Solo in parts of the game where he's dead — spoilers, by the way. It really does help that we're "the Lego one," because we have the freedom to be funnier — but the actual movie is really funny as well. A lot of dialogue that I write for the levels really does fit in with what people expect from Star Wars in terms of being a bit of snark, some back-and-forth.
It helps that the Lego Star Wars games are affectionately funny, as well. It's not mean humor, it's approaching something from the point of view of, "We love this, even if parts of it are silly."
With Lego games, it's always a case of laughing with, not laughing at — making jokes about Stormtroopers can't hit the side of a barn, for example. That's generally true — they can't! I don't know what the test scores are for a pass in the Stormtrooper academy, but I can't imagine that it's terribly high.
Which character was the most fun to write for?
Han Solo, obviously. And Rey was lovely to write for — I love the fact that they've gone for a female lead in The Force Awakens — as they have for Rogue One; I think that's fantastic. I think the casting of Daisy Ridley was perfect. C-3PO as well, that was something that you never believe could actually happen — getting a phone call saying, "Could you give Anthony Daniels a call? Here's his personal phone number." (Laughs.) There's no aspect of this that hasn't been amazing.
And which of the new adventures is most likely to appeal to the hard-core Star Wars fan looking to learn more about the new galaxy the movies exist in, as of The Force Awakens?
The Lor San Tekka one is interesting, because that's leading directly up to the start of the movie. But for me, the Rathtar one is a favorite. I'm a fan of Han and Chewie, and it looks really amazing, I think the art team did a great job on it. Each of the new adventures add some element of lore that I think people will find interesting, because they all feed into the movie. They're all parts of a puzzle, and when you put them together, you get a more complete idea of how everything came to be in the new movie.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released by Warner Bros. Interactive for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows on June 28.