Lawrence Kasdan may not be the most visible presence in Hollywood, but he is responsible for writing some of the most significant pieces of cinema in modern times – and has four Oscar nominations to prove it. Besides dramatic work, such as The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon, Kasdan wrote the screenplays for Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. He is also co-writing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and is involved in further Star Wars projects going forward – so when Lawrence Kasdan chooses to discuss with Vanity Fair the way the new Star Wars movie is shaping up, everybody sits up and listens.
“This new movie, first of all, it’s turning out really great. J.J directed it so beautifully, and it’s so exhilarating and everything. It’s a big movie. It’s full of wonderful stuff, incident and character stuff and jokes and effects. One of the things that we always refocus on from the get-go was that it not be one of these very long, bloated blockbusters. A lot of very entertaining movies lately are taking too long. In the last 20 minutes, you think, ‘Why isn’t this over?’ We didn’t want to make a movie like that. I mean, we were really aiming to have it be – when it’s over you’ll say, ‘I wish there’s more’. Or, ‘Wait, is it over?’ Because how rarely you get that feeling nowadays, and I think we’re headed there. But it means that there that there will be constant critical looking at it from now to the end, saying, ‘Do we need this? Do we need that? Is it better if this comes out, even though we love it?’ Killing your darlings.”
This commitment to keeping the project lean and mean bodes very well, and is another benefit of having a real Star Wars fan – J.J. Abrams – at the helm, in collaboration with experienced Star Wars creators like Kasdan. As seen from the trailers released so far, the filmmakers appear to have imbued the entire thing with the true spirit of the original three films, which is something that was distinctly lacking from George Lucas’ prequels.
Another important question in the minds of many fans is whether we will have the opportunity in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to catch up with the character of Lando Calrissian. Played by Billy Dee Williams in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, Calrissian first appears as Baron administrator of Cloud City, and old friend of Han Solo. After manipulation and threats from Darth Vader, Calrissian betrays Solo, leading to the capture of him and his friends by Jabba The Hutt. In Jedi, his efforts to redeem himself and put right his actions lead to his appointment as General of the Rebel Alliance.
Outside of the film franchise, Lando Calrissian is a main figure in the expanded Star Wars universe – appearing in the television series Star Wars Rebels, the Star Wars comic book series, and his own set of novels – The Adventures Of Lando Calrissian. He was even included in The Lego Movie. Lawrence Kasdan has now very clearly set the Lando Calrissian question to rest, however – at least as far as Star Wars: The Force Awakens is concerned.
“Right now, there’s no Lando Calrissian in this movie. But, Lando I don’t think is finished in any way, shape or form.”
While there will be great disappointment at the absence of the character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is clearly some substance to the rumour that Lando Calrissian will feature in a later movie – perhaps even Star Wars: Episode VIII.