Nuggets of Gold That Larry Kasdan Has Uttered About Star Wars Over the Years

Lawrence Kasdan is a big deal in Hollywood. He is a first-class writer and a director with a couple of serious Oscar-nominated hits to his name – and his friends such as J.J. Abrams call him “Larry.”

Why should Star Wars fans care about this man? He matters because he is the writer that took George Lucas' ideas for Star Wars (and Indiana Jones) and made them comprehensible and suitable for the big screen. The five movies Lucas and Kasdan have collaborated on are:

  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Raiders of the Ark
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Force Awakens
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

He's like the Robin to Lucas' Batman.

So what's the point of this introduction? It's to show that the below quotes by Kasdan were spoken with authority and that the tales and insights into the movies are real – and it's to let you know a little more about how Star Wars was shaped in general.

We have to talk about Empire

So here's a telling quote about the writing of The Empire Strikes Back and the Leigh Brackett scriptwriting credit:

“Look, there's no question that Leigh Brackett was one of the great screenwriters of all time. But it was an odd job for her, and there's nothing of that draft left in Empire.”

Woah! It sounds like Leigh's credit is more of a thank-you for writing the first draft. One wonders if she had not died shortly after writing it, whether she would have received a credit at all. Kasdan explains:

“George had hired Leigh the way anyone would–because, oh my God, she's Leigh Brackett, and because he wanted a Hawksian, goading humor between Han Solo and Princess Leia. But Leigh couldn't serve George the way he wanted to be served. Out of all our respect for her, she was always going to get a credit for the movie.”

So, does this mean Kasdan wrote Empire all by himself? No:

“Not to say it's all me. The truth is these movies are all George. I wouldn't say that of “Raiders,” but I would say that of the “Star Wars” movies. He has the stories in mind and the difference in each film is how they're executed.”
Here's what Kasdan said about when he came into the piece (found at Cinefantastique Vol. 28, February 1997):

“What I worked on was a draft of the script George had written, based on the story George had given to Leigh [Brackett]. I don’t know what of Leigh’s draft survived into the draft George wrote. What George handed me was a very rough first draft, really somewhere between an outline and a first draft. The structure of the story was all there – it was the skeleton for a movie. What was needed was the flesh and the muscle.”

2 xwing versus tie concept design
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

A quick remark about The Phantom Menace

Says Kasdan on Lucas:

” I saw him a couple of weeks before he left to shoot “Phantom Menace”… and the first remark he made to me was, “Hey, do you want to write ‘Phantom Menace'?” I asked, “Aren't you starting to shoot it?” “Yeah,” he said, “but it would be great if you took a second pass at it.” For George, the movie is bigger than the script…”

This is such a telling quote. What Kasdan is saying here is that there is more to the movies than simply a story that George Lucas is focused on. We know George is hugely vested in the visual aspects of the movie – you could arguably watch A New Hope with all the dialogue removed and you'd understand the film completely. Indeed, if you've never heard of the Star Wars Ring Theory and how George tied all six movies he made together, your mind will probably be blown by it when you hear it.

The Kurosawa Connection

The work of legendary Japanese film-maker Kurosawa had a massive influence on George Lucas and how he developed the Star Wars script (see how C-3PO and R2-D2 were inspired as a storytelling vehicle), but it's nice to see Kasdan and Lucas having a connection in common:

“The movies that made me want to make movies were action movies, and thrillers, and Kurosawa films, you know, where you have an opportunity every day to shoot it in an unusual way. I was looking for something like that.”

1 greed solo gunfight concept art
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

A reluctance to write Return of the Jedi

Scripting The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark for Spielberg and Lucas opened up some big Hollywood doors for Kasdan. It gave him the chance to do some other things, which meant he perhaps wasn't ready to get back into Star Wars so hurriedly to do what was at the time known as Revenge of the Jedi. He said:

“I mean, I really liked those guys and the experience of doing Raiders was really good for me, but I did not really want to be involved – I only did Jedi, as I really owed George a favor.”

He did a fine job, and most fans would agree.

The Force Awakens

Vanity Fair had a chance to ask Kasdan some questions:
What was it like coming back to Luke, Leia, and Han and writing those characters again, picking up their threads after 30 years?
“That’s just fun because they’re around my age. Carrie is a little younger, Mark is my age, and Harrison is a little older. So since we’ve treated it as 30 years passing in the film, there’s no artificiality about that. You get to infuse them to the extent that you can with your experience of 30 years on.”

Less is more?

“It’s a big movie. It’s full of wonderful stuff, incident and character stuff, and jokes and effects. One of the things that we always refocus on from the get-go was that it not be one of these very long, bloated blockbusters. A lot of very entertaining movies lately are too long. In the last 20 minutes, you think, why isn’t this over?

We didn’t want to make a movie like that. I mean, we were really aiming to have it be—when it’s over you’ll say, “I wish there’s more.” Or, “Wait, is it over?” Because how rarely you get that feeling nowadays, and I think we’re headed there. But it means that there will be constant critical looking at it from now to the end, saying, “Do we need this? Do we need that? Is it better if this comes out, even though we love it?”

Kasdan also said to Entertainment Weekly:

“I thought, ‘Wow, okay, these people have lived — they’re in a different place in their lives, Han and Leia and so on. They’ve lived the same 30 years I have. What would that be like? How would you see things differently?’

“And I was trying to figure out how I saw things differently, and one of the surprises is that you don’t learn all that much. You haven’t become much wiser than you were, and things are not clearer to you, and the world is just as confusing as it always was — and that’s a kind of lovely thing to get to write about again. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom; it just brings experience.”
So, basically, he's saying he had to find a reason to keep Luke and Leia relevant against the backdrop of new heroes, Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Editor in Chief at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Paul Rose Jr is the Editor in Chief of Wealth of Geeks & manages the Associated Press program for The Insiders network. He has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for InfuzeMag and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing or editing on Wealth of Geeks, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.