Now that The Force Awakens has awoken in theaters, various details are emerging about some of the directions NOT taken in the latest Star Wars film. Among them? One character that was supposed to perish after a short amount of screen time.
Potential spoilers ahead.
Who’s the character? Poe Dameron, according to an interview with Oscar Isaac in GQ Magazine.
Isaac says he had been summoned to Paris for what he suspected might be a role in The Force Awakens. Sure enough, earlier that day, he had met with Abrams, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams had pitched him the character of Poe Dameron, a badass fighter pilot battling against the remnants of the Empire.
“He’s amazing!” said Abrams.
“Sounds good!” thought Isaac, whose first experience in a movie theater had been seeing The Empire Strikes Back.
“He opens the whole movie!” said Abrams.
“Sounds great!” thought Isaac.
“And then,” Abrams went on. “He dies.”
“Oh,” thought Isaac.
This makes a bit of sense, when you look back on the finished product. Dameron is presumed dead after his escape from capture, and is abandoned on the desert planet when Rey and Finn escape. It’s only later that he reappears without explanation.
Isaac wasn’t thrilled about what would amount to a lengthy cameo appearance, but he eventually agreed to take on the role. By that time, though, his reaction convinced J.J. Abrams to keep the character around for the rest of the film.
“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.
In the end, Dameron lives to fight another day. The origins of the character does explain why he had a much smaller role in the film than first anticipated.
Undoubtably, there’ll be a new book, short story or comic that will outline just how he escaped from Jakku. I, for one, am happy he survived: he was an interesting, fun character, and I look forward to seeing him in future installments.