Domhnall Gleeson On How He Dealt With The Force Chokehold In The Last Jedi

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So, there you are, going about your nefarious business as a senior figure in the First Order – terrorizing the galaxy with your weapons of planetary destruction, under the supervision of the evil Supreme Leader Snoke. Suddenly, Kylo Ren – your rival for power and status – begins to display the same abilities as his legendary grandfather, Darth Vader, and you feel a vengeful tightening around your throat. Or, at least, that’s what the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi clearly suggested. The question is, how do you convey that sensation onscreen, in a believable fashion?

Speaking to USA Today, actor Domhnall Gleeson recounted the thought process behind the striking scene, in which General Hux falls victim to Kylo Ren’s growing power in the form of a Force chokehold.

“It’s funny because you look at it and you’re like, I don’t know where to put, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the feeling of an actual hand or whether it’s just compressing on itself, you know what I mean? Do you scramble up there to where you thinking the hand would be? Or do you scramble in at the neck itself? And are you trying to relieve it or trying to help?

“[I] decided that it was a… that you can’t feel the hand, you just feel like your throat is caving in. I had seen it before, so, I mean I didn’t go back to it specifically, but yeah, no, I had seen it before. I knew the deal.”

On the face of it, this may seem like a minor point, wrapped up in reflecting on a blockbuster movie that has been available to watch now for almost two months. But, it’s an important snippet of information for two reasons. Firstly, in the context of the character of General Hux, we see the work that went in to ensuring that his reaction to Kylo Ren’s Force chokehold was authentic to his experience.

Secondly, Gleeson’s assurance that he did not go back and re-watch the original Darth Vader chokehold in A New Hope communicates the vital note about The Last Jedi – that it honours the legacy of its predecessors, while bringing a new interpretation of its themes to the screen. Yes, Kylo Ren is using a Force chokehold, just as his grandfather did before him. But Kylo Ren is not Darth Vader, and there’s no reason to think that his chokehold would be identical to that of his ancestor. Hux is reacting to Ren, not a ‘Darth Vader move.’

This is exactly the kind of quality storytelling, and attention to detail, that helped Star Wars: The Last Jedi stampede across the $1 billion box office line in just two weeks.

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