There was a time during junior high when I really got into reading the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. I ate up The Thrawn Trilogy, which was so popular that fans pushed for it to become Episodes VII, VIII, and IX of the series, and many other books that expanded upon the movies. However, this was the early ’90s and there weren’t as many novels to choose from, so I was finished sooner than I expected. Since I was and am still a giant nerd and dating girls wasn’t even a remotely realistic option, I decided to check out the paperback novelizations of the original trilogy.
The novelizations for “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of The Jedi” were typical specimens of this particular subgenre insofar as they were screenplays written in past tense. On the other hand, the novelization of “A New Hope” was written by George Lucas himself, and included many scenes and details not found in the very first “Star Wars” film. Through that novel, I realized how important Biggs Darklighter was to the Star Wars universe.
In the finished film, Biggs is briefly mentioned by name near the beginning and is one of the X-Wing pilots who bites the big one during the attack on the Death Star. But the novel has an entire chapter dedicated to setting up Luke and Biggs’ friendship. While they’re still on Tatooine, Biggs tells Luke that he’ll be joining the rebellion. The scene was obviously there to set up the rift between the rebellion and the empire, Luke’s unwillingness to take a chance on an adventure, and to also add some boring political exposition, which would eventually become a persistent and annoying element in the prequels. There was another scene in the novel that wasn’t in the finished film in which Luke and Biggs reunite right before the Battle of Yavin. This scene would later be restored for the 1997 Special Edition, but fans would have to wait another decade to see the infamous Toschi Station sequence where we were first introduced to Biggs.
It’s no wonder that the scene was cut. It’s too long, contains some awkward acting and on-the-nose writing, and the production design looks cheap even by “A New Hope” standards. Yet it’s an essential piece for patching Luke and Biggs’ relationship back together. “Star Wars” documentarian Jamie Benning must have been aware of this, since he put together a delightful short documentary about Biggs’ deleted scenes from “A New Hope,” entitled “Blast It Biggs, Where Are You?”
The documentary is basically a series of behind-the-scenes footage, charming DIY animated re-enactments, and of course the deleted scene itself played over an audio interview with Garrick Hagon, the poor actor who played Biggs and eventually found out that most of his scenes were left on the cutting room floor. Hagon tells the story of how he was picked for the role, his experiences during the production, and his reaction after watching the movie for the first time. He comes off as an amiable chap and a good sport about his truncated role in the saga. Hagon never portrayed the character after “A New Hope,” but perhaps he’d be happy to know that Biggs appeared in over twenty Expanded Universe books, including one dedicated entirely to him.
You can watch the documentary below, and check out the Toschi Station scene underneath it. The scene begins at the 28-second mark. [Esquire]