11:29am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Star Wars': Lawrence Kasdan Talks About His Unexpected Return, Co-Writing 'Force Awakens'
If the return of Lawrence Kasdan to the Star Wars franchise seemed unexpected, the writer/director of The Big Chill, The Bodyguard and The Accidental Tourist admits that the possibility was initially just as unlikely to him.
"It was completely out of the blue. I was really surprised," Kasdan told Wired about the call from Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy to return to the Star Wars fold, which came before Disney purchased the company.
"I had a lot of hesitation," he continued. "I went up to the ranch not at all convinced I would do it. I was happy to see George again, and Kathy and I have never been out of touch, because we have a lot of connections. And they said, 'look, we have hired Michael Arndt to write the next one, but there are these other ideas, and you can take your pick.' I said, 'the only one I really want to do here is Han Solo, because Han is my favorite character.' And they said OK. That got me over my hesitation."
That wasn't his only involvement in reviving the franchise, however; he told Wired that he "was involved in trying to get J.J. Abrams to direct what would become Force Awakens," saying that he and Abrams "hit it off right away, even before we were officially writing the script." Working on the script with original screenwriter Michael Arndt was, he admitted, "a struggle," and "then they decided the script wasn’t coming along fast enough. There were people being hired and money being spent, and Michael stepped away," leaving Abrams and Kasdan to create the screenplay themselves.
The two had a clear idea of what the new Star Wars needed, thankfully. "The feeling we wanted was from the first trilogy, which was, it’s fun, it’s delightful, it moves like a son of a bitch, and you don’t question too much," Kasdan explained, going on to say that he and Abrams agreed that "we don’t have to do much of anything. We know that we’re gonna have Harrison and Carrie and Mark back. We know we have Chewie. But everything else is up for grabs."
He went on, "Maybe J.J. felt different, but I didn’t feel any parameters were imposed on us. On the first day, I said, 'look, delight, that’s the word. In every scene, that should be the criteria we’re using. Does it delight? Is it fun?' I look at the movie now, and I’m feeling very good about that."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Dec. 18.