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Stories behind the new Star Wars creatures, Easter eggs, and deleted scenes in Solo

Contributed by
Sep 17, 2018

Films are collaborative in nature. When a screenwriter begins their work, they're never writing the final version, but a blueprint. That blueprint from the initial architect goes through many hands before the final house, as it were, is built. There are a lot of great ideas that get refined further and further until they may only be barely recognizable when they made it to the silver screen. Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story is no exception.

Jon Kasdan, one of the writers on Solo, posted a commentary of sorts on his Twitter that outlined some of the evolutions, and many others are documented in Phil Szostak's book The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Taken together, we can track some pretty fascinating evolutions through the making of Solo.

THE WHITE WORMS

"The name "the white worms" is an homage to a thoroughly mediocre Bram Stoker novel, The Lair of the White Worm," Jon Kasdan wrote in his Twitter commentary. "In the original script, they were not worms at all, but described as "well-dressed, vampiric albino aliens a la David Bowie in The Hunger."

Luke Fisher, a concept designer for Solo, set to work on these designs based on the initial ideas outlined in that first version of the script. In The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, you can see his thought process. He took Proxima a step further from the albinos from The Hunger and imagined her in a pond as some sort of globulous plant creature. Neal Scanlan, the creature and droid effects supervisor of Solo, wrote about that intermediary step in the process, "I love the A New Hope trash compactor-esque psychology of Han walking into this water and not really knowing what is beneath his feet. Every step he takes, there is some form of organic life. Proxima is like some sort of plant with roots growing out — all-consuming."

Jon Kasdan explained the final leap: "Once [Chris Miller and Phil Lord] got involved, they became actual worms. Mother Proxima's design evolved through the production. The element that stuck from the very beginning was their sensitivity to light."

Phil Szostak posted some of the early art from this stage of the idea on Twitter:

DICKENSIAN ROOTS

According to Jon Kasdan, his father, the legendary Lawrence Kasdan, was fascinated by the Dickensian roots of Han Solo. The foot chase through the Corellian fish market was a thing he fought for over the speeder chase we got in the final film.

"In early drafts of the script there was no speeder chase," Jon Kasdan wrote. "This was something conceived by {Chris Miller and Phil Lord] and [Ron Howard] executed, in my opinion, beautifully. They all felt we needed to see Han's skill "behind the yoke" and that it could pay off later in the Kessel run. [Lawrence Kasdan was] much more focused on the Dickensian element, [and] was much more passionate about the foot-chase and the deleted eel barrel scene."

That scene actually got shot. You can see it here from USA Today:

And as much as I respect the work of Lawrence Kasdan, I have to agree with Ron Howard and the rest of the editors on this one. This evolved exactly where it needed to in order to be right for the film, but it's fascinating to see how differently each of them play.

THE MINE BEAST

Sometimes ideas are good, but you can't quite fit them into the movie. That's the case with the Wapota, an "elephant-sized naked mole creature." This was a creature that would have figured prominently in the escape scenes on Kessel. It would have been chasing Han and Chewie out of the mine in the "slowest foot chase ever" according to Phil Szostak in The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Don't be surprised if the Wapota finds it's way into a future project. Matt Martin from the Lucasfilm story group fired this back at Kasdan:

Which is a reminder that no good idea goes wasted. I mean, you know that the entire mine cart chase sequence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was originally spitballed by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan for Raiders of the Lost Ark, right?

DRYDEN VOS

Dryden Vos, played in Solo by Paul Bettany, is a menacing underworld villain, the opposite of everything we've seen of the criminal element in Star Wars films to date. His character went through a long evolution of design, though. In some versions, he was more slug-like. In others, he was very reptilian. At one point he was going to be a very sophisticated brute.

At another point, he could have even been a Lasat, like Zeb from Star Wars Rebels.

An actor was even cast in the role, Michael K. Williams. He had to step away from the part when the production ran into problems and needed to replace directors. Williams said his take on the character was going to be "cat-like." Eventually, when Michael K. Williams had to step away from the role and Paul Bettany was brought in at the last minute and Dryden was retooled completely and he was asked to bring the character "bespoke-tailored menace."

Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story is available digitally now. It comes out in physical media on September 25.


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