We’ve been waiting a long time for it, and most fans and critics agree Star Wars: The Force Awakens more than lives up to the hype. Of course, part of the fun was all the twists and turns along the way. Well, there was apparently another major twist that apparently didn’t make the cut.
Major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie, turn back now!
Ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) is the first major character we meet in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it turns out he apparently wasn’t supposed to survive that initial escape from the First Order. In an interview with GQ, Isaac revealed he was originally signed on for a glorified cameo role, and his character was supposed to die in that crash that gets Finn (John Boyega) to Jakku.
Abrams pitched him on Poe being a major new addition to the canon, even if he doesn’t actually make it past the opening of the film. But Issac was apparently hesitant. Luckily for all of us, Abrams figured out a way to miraculously rescue Poe and keep him around for future sequels (we’d assume). Here’s the choice excerpt from the piece, which touches on Abrams and Issac’s discussions about the character:
“He opens the whole movie!” said Abrams.
“Sounds great!” thought Isaac.
“And then,” Abrams went on. “He dies.”
“Oh,” thought Isaac.
“I’d done that before,” he told me later. “Set up the plot for the main guy and then die spectacularly.” (He had played just such a role in The Bourne Legacy.)
Abrams could surely feel the enthusiasm drain out of the actor when he revealed Dameron’s fate. “I guess that’s not what you hoped for when you got on a plane to Paris,” he said. Thus the invitation to join him at Café de Flore, where Abrams patiently sipped coffee while Isaac sat hunched over the director’s iPhone, reading one of the most closely guarded scripts in the history of film. Abrams hoped to convince the actor that there were still compelling reasons to join the Star Wars fraternity.
“I wanted to impress upon him how much I wanted this to work,” Abrams remembers. It was a chance, he told Isaac, to create a role that could live on in all corners of the Star Wars universe—novels and comic books and video games and so on. The conversation lasted well into the night. “We talked about the story and who this character could be,” Abrams says. “I loved the collaboration. People like Oscar are the people you listen to.”
Still, when they parted, Isaac remained hesitant.
“I went back home [to New York], and I thought about it,” he says. “Then I wrote him and said, ‘Okay. I’ll do it!’ I figured it would be a cameo: I’ll come in, do my thing, and maybe it’s actually better not to have to sign myself up for three movies.” By that time, though, things had changed and Abrams soon wrote back: “Never mind. I’ve figured it out. You’re in the whole movie now.”
“I was like, ‘Holy shit! Alright, cool,’ ” Isaac says.
After seeing the film, it’s easy to understand how Poe’s original fate would’ve fit with the narrative. Plus, aside from the assault on Starkiller Base, he didn’t have much to do after showing back up at the Resistance base. But it seems everyone understood they had a potentially interesting character on their hands — so Poe lives on, and we can’t wait to see where he goes next.