Back to IndieWire

Michael Arndt Reveals Rejected Plots From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ & A Much Larger Role For [Redacted]

Michael Arndt Reveals Rejected Plots From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ & A Much Larger Role For [Redacted]

*Spoilers, spoiler, spoilers.* If you have not seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” yet, please turn back and return once you’ve seen the movie.

What ifs are always fascinating. Even in Slashfilm’s recent interview with J.J. Abrams you can tell the writer is trying to pry development details from the director, without much luck. And who can blame him? There’s a fascinating, untold story there. First, there’s George Lucas’ treatments, which LucasFilm decided to abandon — though we basically know from all of Lucas’ hints that they’re more “generational” stories centering on the children of Luke, Leia, and Han — but we don’t know any deeper details.

READ MORE: Review: J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Starring Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, And Oscar Isaac

Then there’s the fact that Pixar screenwriter Michael Arndt originally worked on the screenplay for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and eventually left the project, supposedly because he had other commitments. According to a THR piece from January 2014, Arndt was perhaps leaning on the generational aspects of Lucas’ trilogy pretty hard. Arndt was apparently focusing on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with the parents being more of supporting characters. Instead, Abrams brought Solo, and, to a lesser extent, Leia and Luke back into the foreground in a bigger way (the article also reminds us that Tye Sheridan was once being tested for an offspring, and given the actor’s age, would have been a teenager or an adolescent nearing his 20s, but this character was wiped from the script).

In a recent Q&A with J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt, the screenwriter revealed some pretty intriguing details about early drafts of ‘The Force Awakens.’ The most eye-opening is that in earlier versions of the screenplay, Luke Skywalker was a much bigger force (pun intended) in the movie.

“Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass,” Arndt said (via EW). “It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012.” Apparently the issue was Luke’s presence was always upstaging everyone in the script. “It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over,” Arndt continued. “Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’”

EW also says there were other big plot ideas dropped: “a search for Darth Vader’s remains, or a quest to the underwater wreckage of the second Death Star to recover a key piece of history about sacred Jedi sites in the galaxy.” These of course, totally different movies and one could argue fairly different from the remake and remix-ness of ‘The Force Awakens.’

And apparently R2-D2 and C-3PO were far more linked in the movie as well. “I had originally written R2 and C-3PO showing up together, and Larry [Kasdan] very intelligently said, ‘You want to keep them separate from each other. And of course I’m like, ‘No, no, no, Larry. You don’t get it at all!’” Arndt joked.

Abrams got into the convoluted story of R2-D2. Essentially he’s in a grief-stricken kind of coma because of Luke vanishing. And the data in his system is apparently tied into ‘A New Hope,’ when he plugged into the Death Star and apparently downloaded all kinds of secrets — one of them being intel on location of Jedi Temples.

“We had the idea about R2 plugging into the information base of the Death Star, and that’s how he was able to get the full map and find where the Jedi temples are,” Arndt said. Abrams didn’t want all this backstory bogging down the plot so it was included indirectly. He didn’t want the story to devolve into, “how s–t happened 30 years ago.” But the idea was that in that scene where R2 plugged in, he downloaded the archives of the Empire, which was referenced by Kylo Ren,” Abrams explained.

So the idea is that BB-8 awakens R2-D2 from his coma by telling him about a loved one — Luke — and his potential whereabouts. “BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, ‘I’ve got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest?’” Abrams said. “The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up.”

I don’t know if I totally buy that, and it sounds a bit silly — thankfully they didn’t lean hard on that in the movie — but to hear their intentions, and some of the development process, is really fascinating. I would really kill to interview Arndt, so I’ll put that out there. Thoughts? Does any of this change the experience of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at all?

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , , ,



Wish they would of just took the ideas from Zahn’s Heir to the Empire – The Thrawn Trilogy is incredible.


They could have gone with an entirely different storyline, but involving Han, Luke and Leia. We didn’t need another Death Star.

moishe pippick

Oy. Somehow I typed the words "remake aspect" and it turned into "female aspect". To be clear I liked the female aspect. I want to get a Rey action figure for my daughter.

moishe pippick

I enjoyed it and everything. I forgive the Luke cameo because I know there will be another movie in a year and a half. B But the female aspect is just puzzling to me. It’s great fun but there’s hardly an original idea in the movie. I mean how many other movies can you think of that end with a trench bombing run that destroys a world killing weapon? But what I think bothers me most, almost depressed me, is that all those hopes and dreams is put in the rebels since I was 5 in 1977 turned out to be for naught. Peace was never fully restored to the galaxy. The return of the Jedi turned out to be singular.

Duder NME

It was silly to present the "missing data" as an entire puzzle piece, rather than a cluster of deleted stars, scattered throughout the galaxy, detailing Luke’s recorded locations, much in the same mysterious vein as how Dooku erased data from the Jedi archives in Clones. Oh, and trade embargoes for the win.


They missed a lot by not showing Luke react to Han’s fall. Also he should have given the clue to Leia to begin the final attack.

I was expecting much more from Kasdan – better character development, better connecting the plot line, but he failed & the movie was not as good as it could & should have been.

Also there wasn’t any WOW moment of emotional moment. JJ still loosing.

Rocco bell

Many people are complaining that the movie was a mix of episodes 4,5 and 6. I agree that the plot was lacking originality, but I believe that’s what most viewers wanted to see. Something nostalgic that brings back the "good old times" in the 70s and 80s when the first films were released.


lol Yoda* I mean yoga could have help.


I get that Ray knew how to fight with a sword and lets say the dark jedi had lost touch with his hate thus severing his full connection to the force and maybe Yoga, qui gon, and obiwan guided her with the force…still learned fast for going from a solid metal weapon to a weightless blade that cuts limbs off with ease…maybe they can use the force on a saber crystal to help…idk but they left that in a pretty good spot. Now HOW IN THE **** did Finn learn how to fight with it?!?!? were the people who made this just completely ignorant to the fact that it takes a force sensitive person/or certain other species to even attempt to practice with one!! they have built that up so much and some delicate storm trooper who couldn’t win a battle against another trooper actually injures Kylo Ren…might as well made a clone army and just gave everybody lightsabers and said "**** it we dont need jedi in starwars"…LOVED THE MOVIE, was just hoping they would keep it Starwars all the way through

Tycho Logan

Looks like they overcompensated in downplaying Luke’s appearance.. because wouldn’t the same problem happen in other episodes?…Luke would dominate. Without a really good antagonist? I’m just really surprised they all missed that…WTF


This is, and always has been, the droids’ story. They’re the only characters to feature in all 7 movies, and they play a pivotal role in nearly all the events that happen to those normally considered the ‘main’ characters.

Mark Judd Alderton

I thought the CGI was the best part of the movie. Story was hopeless. I total lack of sole and passion. Not to mention a gross disrespect to the idea of the living force (Rey overcomes Ren who has been trained by Luke for 10 years+), weak at best. The cheesy Ren mask – give me a break. Solo not giving a sh!t about his kid right up until the end and then prepared to do anything for him….. Where did that come from !!!!!! Bring back Lucas to do the screenplay on 8 and 9.

Brewski Tallboy

I think Luke forseen [redated for spoilers] and told Han and R2, "When this happen come get me."


worsed starwars i have watched.1980’s were much far more galaxy fights and sitting on the edge of your seat.expected so much more .the only cool thing was the 3d effect.


I can understanding limiting Luke’s role in the movie, I was still very disappointed by how small it was. After 30 years of waiting I was hoping to see Luke show up at the end and kick some butt and save the day.


Meesa thinkin’ some really bad juju gave R2 a bombad day. Heesa had to shut down for a while.


They had so many story line ideas by the time it made it to production they were all so real in the producers head they forgot to be relayed to the movie. There were a thousand surprise "wtf" moments of the movie, it was an excellent movie, but not the caliber expected. It seemed the real story got lost in Disney marketing, and subplots.


I am certain that Michael Arndt would have improved upon TFA’s flaws. What’s odd is that I wanted to like Rey but I ended up preferring Finn and Poe as the main characters. Rey’s character was a bit too humorless for my liking. Maybe they needed a different actress (although Daisy seems nice). Arndt definitely would have made the story more satisfying. The movie was still very entertaining but the story could’ve been stronger.


I think the BB-8/R2D2 thing is smoke and mirrors. R2 was in deep sleep because Luke was gone. Rey shows up and now he wakes up. I think he sensed a Skywalker, thinking it was Luke, but, in reality, was Luke’s daughter, Rey.


If there is a Michael Arndt TFA draft, I’d love to read it.

Henry Walsh

Hey, JJ, maybe… If everyone is more concerned about Luke Skywalker… More interested in Luke Skywalker… Maybe Luke Skywalker SHOULD have been the star.

I saw TFA… I only care about Luke Skywalker. Rey is great, but Luke’s the man.


This sounds sooo much better than what we got. At least this has a plot, and not a rehash of EP IV.


Did you say it sounds a bit silly? Have you watched the OT. Star Wars is silly. That’s the fun of it. Whether you like the prequels or not the problem with it was it took itself way to seriously with the politics and thinking that every little thing had to be explained.


The game KOTOR 2 had exactly the same premise with the droid downloading the locations of missing jedi. So it would have been a total rip off. I’m guessing that’s part of the reason for scrapping that bit.


My first thought was that Luke sent Artoo there knowing Rey would turn up eventually, because he’s been waiting for her. Thus why Artoo doesn’t wake up until Rey arrives at the Resistance headquarters at the end of the film.


On a totally different aspect, and maybe it is just me, but ‘The Force Awakens’ is almost a remake of episode 4 with a little bit of episode 6 mixed in at the end!?!?

    Fra X

    In episodio VII Rey è istruita da un personaggio tipo Ben Kenobi? Si deve liberare una principessa? Devono essere recuperati piani sulla morte nera? C’ è un giovane personaggio tipo Han Solo…
    comunque meno male che SW è uscito nel 1977 e non oggi! I bei tempi in cui ci si faceva ben meno pippe mentali! XD
    Potevano evitare di mettere il pianeta-arma e fare ordine tra “nuovo ordine”, repubblica e resistenza!

    “Fino a quando non si parla di embarghi commerciali, sto bene.”

    Ah, ah! Già!

    “La pace non è mai stato completamente restaurato alla galassia. Il ritorno dello Jedi si è rivelata singolare.”

    Uhm, vero!

Ricardo Valle

I agree people are idiots


As long as there is no talk of trade embargoes, I’m good.


I agree


I think it’s better that they didn’t get into too much exposition about it. I don’t know that grief and comas for droids would have come off too well. I think a better explanation would have been Luke foreseeing his meeting with Rey or the return of his lightsaber and telling R2 to go into low power mode until Rey or the lightsaber was present.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *