For many actors, getting cast in a Star Wars film is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, the culmination of years spent watching the movies, playing with the toys, and just generally living with the franchise. Donald Glover, for example, knew he was destined to play Lando Calrissian because Lando was his first action figure. Then there are the actors who just want to be a part of a good movie, whether they know (or care) what Star Wars is or not.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays Lando's beloved droid L3-37 in the new Han Solo prequel, falls into the latter category. Best known for TV series like Fleabag (which she created and stars in) and the new hit Killing Eve (which she developed and writes), Waller-Bridge admitted on this week's episode of The Graham Norton Show that she had no affinity for Star Wars when she began the audition process for L3. In fact, it wasn't just that she wasn't a fan of the films. She'd never seen them. Any of them. That lack of familiarity wouldn't necessarily have been a huge obstacle if she were playing one of the film's human characters, but it did create a complication when she realized she was meant to be playing a droid... and didn't know what a droid was.
"I was going to the audition, and I thought, 'This character is amazing, she's a revolutionary, she's really cool,' and the dialogue was amazing. But it kind of said, just in one of the stage directions: Droid. And so I was like, 'Droid? Droid... What's a droid?' And then I Googled 'droid' and then nothing much really came up, weirdly. Just pictures. There wasn't explicitly it was a robot," Waller-Bridge said. "And I was in a taxi on the way to the audition, and I was like 'Sh*t, I really should know what a droid is,' and I was asking my taxi driver. He was like, 'I don't know what a droid is,' and he called his family, like, 'What's a droid?' And the more I didn't know, the more panicky I got.
"And then I got to the audition, and I was like, 'I'm just gonna play it like a human, because the chances are it's a human.' Because most of the times when you audition... it's for humans!"
Obviously Waller-Bridge's audition went well, or she wouldn't be out promoting the film right now, but watch the rest of the video (some NSFW language) to see how the story ends, and how she discovered that she was meant to be playing a robot after all.
Sure, Waller-Bridge could've maybe been a bit more thorough with her pre-audition homework, but she had one distinct advantage going in that other robotic characters in science fiction sometimes don't have: The droids in Star Wars tend to have distinct personalities, from C-3PO's nervous pessimism to BB-8's sense of humor. So L3-37 wound up having the independent spirit and fire that Waller-Bridge brought to the character even before she knew she was playing a robot, and it all worked out. Plus, it couldn't possibly have been any weirder than Alden Ehrenreich's first audition for the movie.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters May 25.