Chris Terrio was one of the people charged with writing the end of the Skywalker Saga in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Recently, he told Rolling Stone that having one of the original screenwriters on Empire Strikes Back. Leigh Brackett wrote the first draft of that film and Terrio managed to get a hold of those old drafts in preparation for Rise of Skywalker. Now, that wasn’t the only resource available to him and the other filmmakers on the project, but it is clear that these texts really helped him gain a foothold on how to bring this story home after all this time.
“I’m still getting my mind wrapped around that idea,” Terrio began. “We had to approach it like we were just chronicling the history of the galaxy, writing about things that really happened. When we would make a story decision, we were fully aware that this now will become canon, and so are we sure that this is the right story decision? Are we sure about it character-wise? Are we sure about it thematically?”
He continued, “Does it seem like it gels with George’s original intentions from Episode IV? Does it gel with what we learned in the prequels and what we learned in the sequel trilogy? Every decision was made that way. But of course, at a certain point you just have to trust your gut, and think: Well, this just feels right. This feels like something the character would do. This feels like Star Wars.”
“I do try to read everything that I can get my hands on,” Terrio explained. There are internet sites that have various drafts of the various scripts from the original trilogy. I devoured [one of those sites]. It probably would be embarrassing to look at the number of times that an address in Santa Monica, California, looked at that site. I wanted to gain that insight into the way that George was thinking, or the way that Leigh Brackett was thinking in her first draft of Empire Strikes Back. Those were super instructive for me.”
“A lot of the strange, quirky sensibility of Empire is already there in her first draft. That was exciting to see, that she wasn’t afraid to be weird. Of course Star Wars is a bit weird — it’s in a galaxy far away. But Leigh Brackett, having written so much science fiction in her past, took a lot of risks. I didn’t know much about Leigh Brackett until I started this process and started reading as much as I could by her. A lot of people don’t even know that women wrote Star Wars — she had a name that you might not immediately recognize as a woman’s. And when Larry [Kasdan] comes in, a lot of the dialogue becomes the dialogue of Empire as we know it. Larry brings his own humanist sensibilities to it, and his sense of rhythm and dialogue and wit. So many of the scenes are already there in Leigh Brackett’s draft,” he concluded.
So, in crafting Star Wars for a new generation, having the previous generation there to bounce ideas off of was a tremendous asset. Also, the inspiration from people who created characters that everyone still loves and acknowledges today can’t hurt.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker flies into theaters on December 20th.