While Luke Skywalker may be the main character of the original Star Wars trilogy, in many circles his popularity pales in comparison to that of roguish anti-hero Han Solo. The role as the iconic space cowboy catapulted actor Harrison Ford to stardom, leading to equally iconic turns as men like Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan. Although the character lived to see the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, and Ford will return to the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that was not always the case.
In a recent – and just generally awesome – appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ford opened up about how he wanted the character to die during the original trilogy:
I asked [George Lucas] to ask the writers to kill me off because I thought that it would be good that the character who appeared to have not so much of a complex interweaving with the theme of the force and all that good stuff… [Burps] No, I thought it would be good, uh, if he sacrificed himself in some noble way.
While fans are likely happy he lived to fight another day, his rationale for killing the character is not without merit. At the time the audience meets Han Solo in A New Hope, he is a man with a serious magnet next to his moral compass. He doesn’t believe in The Force and only looks out for himself – concerned with little else outside of money. Over the course of the trilogy, Han Solo becomes increasingly more selfless and honorable. A heroic sacrifice would have solidified his character arc – showing the effect that friends like Luke and Leia had on him during their relationship.
During the events of The Empire Strikes Back, one of the main reasons Solo was frozen in carbonite was that it was initially unclear if Harrison Ford would return to the franchise or not – although we now all know how that story ends. In his interview with Kimmel, Ford expressed gratitude to George Lucas, and ultimately finds himself pleased that Solo survived to return to the franchise today.
However, just because Han Solo will appear in The Force Awakens does not rule out the possibility that J.J. Abrams may follow through on Ford’s original request. A new, younger ensemble has been brought in to carry the franchise this time around, and as such Ford could simply be here to hand off the proceedings before he or Chewie heroically take one for the team. The odds of Han being the one to die seem increasingly more likely when one considers that the character’s history will be explored in one of the upcoming Star Wars Anthology films. You can check out the entire interview with Harrison Ford below.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters on December 18.