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Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are ahead!
Going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we knew we’d be seeing plenty of familiar faces, including Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian and Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine, both of who had been absent from the big screen for years. But it came as a surprise when following his duel with Rey on Kef Bir atop the wreckage of the second Death Star, Kylo Ren was greeted by a vision of his late father, Han Solo, reprised by… well, who else, Harrison Ford!
Given that Han was killed by his son in The Force Awakens, aside from exploring his younger years in Solo: A Star Wars Story, it wasn’t expected that we’d see the character on the big screen again. So how did J.J. Abrams convince Harrison Ford to return to the Star Wars universe? All the Rise of Skywalker director had to do was ask the actor if he wanted to do a scene with Adam Driver, and Ford responded, “Okay.” Blunt and to the point, just what we expect from Ford.
Alright, there’s a little bit more to it than that. J.J. Abrams had to explain to Harrison Ford why it was necessary for Han Solo to appear in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, wanting to alleviate the kind of concerns that Ford had about the character in Return of the Jedi, as he believed Han wasn’t necessary to the story after being rescued from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Abrams recalled:
We had a meeting and talked about what it would be. Harrison, who is one of the great people ever, and incredibly thoughtful about everything that he does, all he ever wants is to understand the utility of the character. 'What is my role?' It was about sitting with him and explaining what our intention was. We talked about it for quite a while, I sent him the pages. He got it, and of course, as you can see, he was wonderful.
In case you need a refresher on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, this vision of Han Solo (in other words, not a Force ghost) confronted Kylo Ren in one last attempt to pull him back to the light following the death of Leia Organa. The encounter mirrored Han and Kylo’s last encounter in The Force Awakens, only this time, the latter finally turned away from the dark side, tossing his lightsaber into the ocean and reclaiming his Ben Solo identity.
J.J. Abrams told Harrison Ford that it was vital for Han Solo to be present in this scene, because as writer Chris Terrio informed Vanity Fair, he and Abrams felt that following the death of Leia, Ben was ready to finally ask for forgiveness, and hashing out his inner conflict with his father allowed to finally make “some kind of peace” and “make amends in the future” despite everything he’d done while being Kylo Ren.
With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker serving as both the conclusion to the Sequel Trilogy and the entire Skywalker Saga, it was most welcome to have Harrison Ford reprise Han Solo, one of so many cameos. While I’m still hoping that we could someday see Alden Ehrenreich reprise his younger Han, when looking at the overall Star Wars timeline, this served as a fitting farewell to the character, so props to J.J. Abrams for convincing Harrison Ford to return to a galaxy far, far away one last time.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more coverage about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and be sure to read our review of the movie. You can also learn what’s hitting theaters in the new year with our 2020 release schedule.