If you didn't get enough Star Wars: The Force Awakens news yesterday, with new photos and details on the villainous Kylo Ren's backstory, then you're in luck, because we have even more details to share today. Entertainment Weekly has a new report which takes fans behind-the-scenes, with director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan sharing new details about Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo. Some were surprised that the actor agreed to come back, since he has often had negative things to say about Han Solo, calling him "dumb as a stump" in a 2008 interview and telling the Today show several years prior that he was "glad to see the costume for the last time." As it turns out, a lot has changed between then and now, with Kathleen Kennedy describing the actor's first day on the set.
"The minute Harrison and Chewie walked on board the Millennium Falcon - that was incredible. Every single person on the set was stunned. I remember turning around, and there must have been 200 people gathered behind me - completely quiet. I didn't even know they were there. The whole crew had stopped working, staring at the monitor, because it was so iconic. Harrison was going through his own experience, finding that place for himself again, to return to something that had been so much a part of his identity and acting career. It was his own little personal journey, but once he got there, it was amazing. I mean, he was Han Solo again. That's why everybody else got so quiet! They were like, 'Oh my God, he's back!'"
Just a few months after production started, Harrison Ford was injured on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set, when the door from the Millennium Falcon came loose and fell on the actor's leg. J.J. Abrams even recently revealed that he ruptured a vertebrae while trying to lift the door off of the actor's leg, which resulted in the filmmaker wearing a back brace. Production was shut down, but never affected the release date, and J.J. Abrams reveals that the accident was actually a blessing in disguise, since it gave the director and Lawrence Kasdan time to rewrite scenes and reshoot footage, and the actors also had more time to rehearse.
"It was obviously a horrible experience that I wish had never happened for obvious reasons. But the truth is, once we knew that Harrison was going to be okay, we all realized this was this greatest gift to the movie, and I would think that any filmmaker would say, 'If I could get a break after a month of shooting, for a few weeks, to recalibrate, I would take it.'"
The director was initially expecting to rewrite Harrison Ford's scenes so he would be sitting down a lot more, to put less strain on his injured ankle. As it turns out, those tweaks weren't needed one bit.
"It wasn't something that we knew for a little while. When it became clear that he was going to be just fine, we realized we didn't need to change that at all. In fact, there are some places where he's more active than he was prior to the accident. As you'll see in the movie, he is running and doing more physical activity in this movie than I think anyone who knows he was injured would expect. Nothing was adjusted or lessened because of that accident. Even for Harrison, who is famously resilient and strong, he blew everyone's minds."
In a separate Entertainment Weekly piece, director J.J. Abrams also revealed how the individual character names were created. Many fans have noticed that, while some characters like Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron are given full names, we only get first names for Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley). Without getting into detail, J.J. Abrams confirmed that this was by design.
"I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren't public record."
The director added that Poe Dameron is a combination of the director's assistant, Morgan Dameron, and his daughter's stuffed teddy bear, named Poe. The ball droid BB-8 was named so because the rolling android looks like both an 8 and two B's, what he called an "almost onomatopoeia." Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux may have been inspired by a name the director saw on a tombstone, in a cemetery near the Bad Robot offices, and Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma was named in honor of Don Coscarelli's 1979 cult classic Phantasm, because the iconic orb in that movie looks just like her new silver Stormtrooper armor. What do you think of these new details?