Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill were kind enough to welcome a Rolling Stone writer into their homes; Harrison Ford was kind enough not to slice him open like a Tauntaun after a hour’s worth of Star Wars questions. The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, meanwhile, put aside his concern about spoilers long enough talk openly about the process behind the film, and allow fly-on-the-wall access to the editing room as he reviewed visual-effects shots. There was plenty that didn’t fit in the cover story, however; here are 15 things we learned about the upcoming movie.
Contrary to early rumors, there were never disagreements over how big a role the legacy characters would play in the new movie
“No, because the movie was always about the new characters,” says J.J. Abrams, “and the existing characters were always a critical piece of that. It was very much a bridge between what had transpired and what will. But there was never any disagreement that this movie needed to be – as Star Wars is at its core – a generational story.
Daisy Ridley’s initial auditions were with a fake script
“You know, it was stuff about spaceships and stuff,” she says. “It was just, like a girl and a guy and there was one character that was just called ‘Older Man.’ And then someone goes, ‘Well, that’s Han Solo,’ and I was like, ‘No, it’s not!’ Later I was like, ‘Oh! Maybe it was.’
Co-writer Lawrence Kasdan pushed J.J. Abrams toward a less-is-more approach to the screenplay
“I think part of it was efficiency,” says Abrams. “Learning how to say as much as we can by saying as little as possible, along with clarity of story and character intention. I would say that the greatest lesson/takeaway from working with Lawrence Kasdan, for me, was trusting the story, trusting the material, trusting the characters, not propping everything up [or] dancing so hard to sell a point. Trust that the audience will make the connection and give them room to do so. Larry was always the voice of ‘Say less’ — which is, by the way, a very funny thing because in some recent screenings we’ve had, he is shockingly the one arguing to put some lines of dialogue back in. And I’m always calling him up, saying, ‘How are you, Lawrence Kasdan, asking to put this line of dialogue back in?’ But I always loved when he misses a line.”