Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan Talks ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

The Star Wars franchise has always been described as both science-fiction and fantasy, ever since it first debuted in theaters in 1977. But recently, co-screenwriter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as the writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Lawrence Kasdan, spoke about the franchise saying that it exists in “its own genre.” Talking with Wired, Kasdan details the mythology of the Jedi and the series as a whole, as well as what the experience was like working on the first film of the new trilogy, and how it compares to working on Empire and Jedi all those years ago.

“‘Star Wars’ is its own genre. It’s not really science fiction. It’s really something on its own, fantasy and myth and science fiction and Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa all mixed up together. For that reason, like all genre it can hold a million different kinds of artists an stories. That’s why I think Rian Johnson’s movie [Episode VIII] is going to be amazing, and I think Chris Lord and Phil Miller’s movie [about young Han Solo] is going to be amazing. They say Buddha is what you do to it. And that’s Star Wars. It can be anything you want it to be.”

Once Kasdan had finished the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, which took him six months, George Lucas asked him if he would want to be involved in writing the sequel to the first Star Wars film — Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It happened quite abruptly, as the writer who wrote the first draft, Leigh Brackett, had just died. Sets for the production were already in the process of being built and Lucas did not yet have a finished script. But the pressure was not an intimidating factor, and instead was rather exhilarating for Kasdan, getting his draft done in just six weeks.

Lawrence Kasdan Talks 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Lawrence Kasdan speaks onstage at the 2015 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 14, 2015 in Century City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WGAw)

“What am I, what am I about, have a fulfilled my potential, and, if not, is there still time? That’s what the Star Wars saga is about. I’ve done movies that aren’t genre movies, and they’re very attractive too. Less of a vessel and more free-form. But I’m always drawn to the same kind of stories. You make a movie like ‘The Big Chill’ and you’re dealing with the same issue you deal with in Empire, which is how you’re going to live your life. The attraction of Westerns is, it was a brand new land with no rules, so people had to decide how they were going to be in that landscape, and some people decided one way and some decided the other, and people like Wyatt Earp were caught in the middle. They’re questions of identity and morality, you know. What kind of person am I going to be?”

Lawrence Kasdan Talks 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
(L-R) Producer Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan at the Hall H Panel for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Lawrence Kasdan is also the co-writer on the upcoming Han Solo standalone film, which will explore the rogue smuggler’s life when he was younger. This movie is part of the Star Wars Anthology films, which is a series of standalone films that will feature key characters in the Star Wars universe. As of right now, the project is expected to be released on May 25, 2018. Phil Lord and Chris Miller — who previously directed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie — are attached to direct the project. IGN reports that there was a rumor of Han Solo and Boba Fett having their complicated relationship explored in a spinoff film, but it is unclear whether or not this will be touched on in this current Han Solo project.

[Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney]