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It's almost been three years since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, and the only official storytelling that's continued the story with the sequel characters after that point has been the Disney+ LEGO Star Wars specials. The third in the series, LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation, dropped on the streamer Aug. 5 and features Finn (voiced by Omar Miller) as the central character.
In the wake of the events in TROS, the Rebellion heroes need some R&R so they hop aboard the Galactic Starcruiser, The Halcyon. However, instead of bonding, everyone goes their separate ways, which leaves Finn melancholy and open to some Force Ghost advice from Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and General Leia Organa (Shelby Young).
Within the three stories from the Force Ghosts, Finn gets to learn some valuable lessons about friendship, family, and separating for new chapters in life. Executive producer/writer David Shayne returned to pen this latest adventure, so SYFY WIRE spoke with him about some of the more surprising and spoilery elements of the new special, including how they connect to other projects in the Star Wars franchise.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation below!**
First off, since this is animation with long lead times, how early did you start working on this one?
We were working on LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales, finished that but it hadn't aired yet. We just started talking about what could we do next? What makes sense? What would be a fun thing to do? And we started talking about going on summer vacation. We've done this holiday special set in the winter, and we've done Halloween, and that became the next thing, summer vacation.
Rey and Poe were the faces of the two previous specials, so was it Finn's turn?
Yeah, it felt like Finn was the natural character [to lead]. We did want to bring him front and center for this latest one. We also liked that they saved the galaxy and wanted to take some time off. What does that mean? We really wanted to put some heart into that idea. I thought Omar Miller as Finn just really brought it. I remember during the recording getting a little choked up at the end. It was very sweet.
The special also features original cast voice work from Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, and Anthony Daniels?
Yeah. We love getting in the legacy characters wherever we can, and it felt like it was a nice way to frame it with Lando on The Halcyon. We were like, 'Where can we put Lando in the story?' We realized that was a very natural, fun way to use him. And Billy Dee Williams came in on the holiday special too. We recorded that pre COVID, so we actually got to be in the studio with him. He's amazing, and so charming, and nice and kind. And it's insane when you're getting to work with Anthony Daniels. There's the Threepio we all know and love! And then Kelly worked with us on the holiday special. She's a total pro and was so great. And what was really interesting was there's a moment at the end where we're doing little flashbacks where that's her delivering her line from Episode 8: The Last Jedi again. And I love having Rose in there because I just think she's such a great counterbalance to particularly the way we get to play Poe who is over enthusiastic. She's like, "Bring it down a little bit, Poe" and never in a wet blanket way. [Laughs.]
Let's dig into each story, starting with Obi-Wan who is on Tatooine and is bizarrely persuaded to sing with the Max Rebo Band in Jabba's Palace. How did that come about?
We landed that this is the Obi-Wan between Episode III and IV. We knew the Obi-Wan Kenobi series was coming out, and so it's that Obi Wan, who's a little world weary and trying to figure out his place. And here's a guy who's never taken a vacation. Then it was the fun of getting him out of his comfort zone and we realized it'd be really funny to make him sing. Here he is trying to stay undercover, and now we've put him front and center. And Yvette Nicole Brown's character, Lieutenant Valeria, we brought her back from The Freemaker Adventures. Essentially, you can think of it as a prequel to Freemaker. So, I loved having them in the cantina. I love seeing them in Jabba's Palace. And it was a fun way to bring Boba Fett back.
In the second tale, Anakin reveals a time when the Emperor and Darth Vader went to Scarif pre-Rogue One, and are sucked into a beach party with Weird Al. Again, explain.
We actually knew we wanted to have some musical numbers. I think someone at one point said, 'Beach Blanket Bingo.' If you think about it in terms of summer vacation, where do you go? You go to the beach and the thought of the Emperor in a bathing suit and Vader in all his armor covered in sand—which we know from canon, poor Anakin can't stand — all of that really became fun.
How was it writing “Scarif Beach Party” and getting “Weird Al” Yankovic, who plays Vic Vankoh, to sing it?
No one needs me to tell the world that "Weird Al" Yankovic knows how to be funny. He was great. He was super fun as the character and he was so game on the song. He did a bunch of takes and was really, really willing to belt it out. To have that song as a capper and have that be the thing that literally puts poor Vader over the edge was great. I'm hoping people love it as much as we did. Fingers crossed it becomes the song of the summer.
Last but not least, we get to see the Solo/Organa family on their last family trip before young Ben heads to Luke's training. We know how that turns out, so this is a poignant one.
When we started thinking about these three mini stories, that was the one that actually I think came first. It's essentially a road trip, and a family car trip, and what is more iconic than the Millennium Falcon? We can see this family unit. It was really fun getting to see Han and Leia interacting with Ben. And getting to play Ben as a kid, younger than we've gotten to see him.
You really hit the feels when you remixed Han and Leia's "I love you/I know" to apply to Han and Ben.
I'm so touched that you picked up on the touching moment. Kudos to [director] Ken Cunningham and Atomic animation. We went over that moment with a fine tooth comb and they just nailed it. The way the lighting rises, it is a heartfelt father/son moment which is something that we've gotten to see in the movies. It exists in VII and IX seeing those relationships between Ben and Han. There's a whole mental backstory that we've all written in our heads, so to get to do this canon adjacent LEGO version of it, and just see it for a moment, was really fun.
And you reveal Ben to be a Force Ghost with his mother, which is an emotional thing to see since he disappeared in TROS.
It was a really nice wrap up. That's where getting to work with Leland Che, the keeper the Holocron and the whole group, is great. We talked about: would that make sense? We ultimately landed on that, for this, that it works. I can't speak to whether that's canon or not. But it was nice to bring them back and have them have that mother/son moment. It felt good.
The end seems like it could be an end to the story or the series. Is that clear?
It's like the end of summer camp. Some of my best friends are the friends I went to summer camp with. There's a before and after time. And that journey is over but it doesn't mean the friendship is over, or the relationships are over. But that specific moment in time is over. Going back to Obi-Wan's advice, "Enjoy that moment, because you don't know how long it will last." But it's LEGO Star Wars so there's always more to explore. It's just an indescribably fun place to play.
All three LEGO Star Wars specials, including LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation, are available now on Disney+.