Han Solo’s life has been full of iconic moments—the Kessel Run, winning the Millennium Falcon, running afoul of Jabba the Hutt and more, but none are more significant than Han meeting Chewbacca. So when Solo: A Star Wars Story, writers Lawrence and Jon Kasdan definitively decided on what that first meeting would be, they knew they had to be very, very careful, both on the page and on the set.
“It all really evolved in the writing process,” Jon Kasdan told io9. “When Larry brought me into this process with him he said ‘The relationship between Han and Chewie is a romance and it’s going to be a romance in the great tradition of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn movies. You’re going to feel that kind of delight by the end of it.’ And so it was sort of foregone that when they started they would be at odds.”
In the movie, that drama plays homage to Return of the Jedi as Han is throw in a dungeon to face the wrath of a “monster.” A monster who we quickly recognize as Chewbacca. The pair then fight in the muddy pit before hatching an escape and uneasy alliance.
“We always knew they were going to get physical with each other it was going to get messy,” Jon Kasdan continued. “And then [former directors] Chris [Miller] and Phil [Lord] came in and they sort of wanted it even messier.”
“When you are choosing these incidents to take off from, we always want the incident itself to fit in with the overall scheme of the thing,” Lawrence Kasdan said. “So it’s not random. It’s ‘What can be demonstrated in their first meeting that then plays out for the rest of saga?’ And that’s true with Lando, it’s true with characters you care about and even the characters only [in] one movie. You want the themes that character embodies to be in the [first] meeting.”
In a feat of scheduling that surely wasn’t by coincidence, the first meeting of Han and Chewbacca—a mucky fight that sets the tone not just for Solo but forms a cornerstone of the Star Wars universe in general—was put on the shooting schedule in a very specific place.
“The other thing that can’t be understated enough is that [scene] was the first thing that was shot in this entire movie,” Jon Kasdan revealed. “It came at the end of Alden [Ehrenreich] and Joonas [Suotamo] having worked out together for about two and a half months, literally going into the gym every day together. It was their first moment of camaraderie and the exhilaration of sort of working together and doing very physical stuff with Alden on wires and being tossed around. I think you can feel the joy, almost, in the undercurrent of that scene. It really gives it its life and its charge.”
We’ll have more on Solo next week, including the Kasdans discussing much bigger spoilers. It’s in theaters now.