Without being too spoilery here, because it's gonna get super spoilery below, one of the most poignant moments in Star Wars: The Force Awakens came courtesy of the movie’s own villain, Kylo Ren. In a recent interview, director J.J. Abrams opened up about THAT particular scene, explaining the reasons the character did what he did.
WARNING: Massive Star Wars: The Force Awakens SPOILERS below!
If you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens a bazillion times (or even once), then you know that one of the most powerful scenes of the movie was when Kylo “Ben Solo” Ren killed one of the most iconic and beloved characters in Star Wars history — his own father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford). This moment marked the final turn to the Dark Side of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, who was simply amazing in the role) and probably created one of the most hated characters in the history of the franchise in one fell swoop.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly during a post-screening Q&A at the Writers Guild of America, J.J. Abrams opened up about that shocking, devastating scene and talked about how he felt this had to happen because of a little thing called character development.
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing? We knew we needed to do something f—king bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters. Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain - and not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process. As a father, as a friend to people who have children, I know what it’s like to see struggle, to be part of struggle. I know how painful it can be. I know how real it is. And this is, of course, an insane extrapolated version. It’s this massive tradeoff: how can we possibly do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
Michael Arndt, who helped create the new tale set in a galaxy far, far away before Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan got their hands on the story and wrote the script, revealed that Kylo Ren’s beginnings were as a means to separate the beloved heroes we all know and love from the original trilogy.
“I had thought Han’s story and Leia’s story was just about them coming back together. At the end of the movie they would have reconciled and gotten over their differences. And you would have said, ‘Okay, bad stuff happened, but at least they’re back together again. J.J. rightly asked, ‘What is Han doing in this movie?’ If we’re not going to have something important and irreversible happen to him, then he kind of feels like luggage. He feels like this great, sexy piece of luggage you have in your movie. But he’s not really evolving. He’s not really pushing the story forward.”
Abrams said that watching the scene where Kylo Ren kills his father by stabbing him through the heart with his lightsaber, and Han’s final tender gesture towards his son was “chilling.”
“It was really chilling, seeing these two actors, they weren’t chewing up the scenery. They were just doing this thing in a way that, frankly, was disturbing. To see Harrison reach out and touch Adam. I know this sounds stupid, but literally watching it, I forgot — I forgot that he wasn’t his son. He did it so beautifully.”
I think it's not only heartbreaking that Han died at the hands of his long-lost son, but it's also gut-wrenching to know a different fate originally awaited our beloved space rogue; one that didn’t include being slain by his own child. What did you think of Kylo Ren ultimately killing his father? Do you believe Han Solo's fate should have been different?