Ron Howard had a big part in bringing about that cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story has been out for nearly a week now, and there’s plenty about the film that we could talk about.  It seems that the most-talked about thing in the movie, however, is THAT cameo.

If you’ve seen the film, you surely know what I’m talking about.  It’s a relatively minor cameo as it pertains to the plot, but it’s quite massive as it pertains to the Star Wars universe.  And it makes a lot of sense.

And it was Ron Howard who had a big role in bringing that cameo about.  In an interview recently with SlashFilm, Howard talked about how that appearance came to be.

Spoilers are ahead, so here’s your warning to not read any further if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

As we know, Ron Howard was brought on board as the director of Solo midway through production, after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired.  Howard re-shot the vast majority of the film, and apparantly he helped bring about that cameo – which revealed that Dryden Vos was working for Maul!  When Howard arrived on the production, the character in that scene was simply a “Boss,” and there was a list of candidates of who it could be.  When Howard saw Maul on that list, he began pushing for the former Sith to make an appearance.

As he told Slashfilm:

It just sort of said “Boss”.  And I thought when I came in, I assumed they knew who it was and they were just keeping it under wraps.  And they didn’t.  But Maul was listed as one of the candidates.  And I lobbied hard for that.  I thought that made a lot of sense to me.  I found that character to be really effective.  And I knew for a fact, without asking directly and giving anything away, my son Reed who just turned 31, who’s a dedicated Star Wars fan, he’s a golfer.  He’s not in the business.  Dedicated Star Wars fan.  I just whispered that possibility and he just thought that would be incredibly cool.  And so for that generation, I thought, well that was gonna be a pretty interesting idea.  And doing a little more research and understanding sort of how the character had worked elsewhere, I thought it was good.  And the Kasdan’s were on board with that.  And but then we actually shot it twice.  Because we did it once.  And then we realized we, it wasn’t quite Maul enough yet.

One of the main things that they did in the re-shoot of the scene, Howard revealed, was adding the lightsaber, but they also added intensity to it.  That was something that the film’s editor, Pietro Scalia, said as well: they added to the intensity of the scene, as Howard wanted to cultivate a greater sense of fear in Qi’ra over the appearance of this villain and aligning with him.

The Slashfilm article also included an interview with writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, who also discussed the cameo – and revealed that, as was expected all along, it was really Jon’s idea to bring Maul into it, because Larry didn’t know about the stuff in The Clone Wars and Rebels that brought Maul back.  Here’s what Jon said:

I was always sort of, I was trying to design it in such a way that everyone who read it would feel that they had thought to put him in there.  And no one would realize that it was always what I wanted.  And even Larry was sort of ambivalent about it at the beginning and then came to fully embrace the Maul of it all.  But yeah, no, there’s subtle clues and even in the name Crimson Dawn I think it’s sort of setup to be this guy’s organization and where he goes after the many adventures he has in Clone Wars and the like.

It’s really cool to be able to see what led up to the inclusion of Maul in this movie as a cameo, and it’s interesting to me that it seems nothing had been decided by Lord and Miller.  When Howard arrived he pushed for Maul, and it seems that Jon Kasdan was pushing for him too.  The way they did it made it seem like a logical inclusion and not forced, since Maul already had a history in the crime world in The Clone Wars.  I also appreciate that Howard wanted the scene to feel a bit more intimidating, and the way it turned out in the movie really worked.  But even though the inclusion of Maul almost shouts that there’s more to tell, and even though Kasdan says that it’s set up to be Maul’s organization and to tell more stories, it doesn’t sound like there are any sequel plans yet.

This part of the interview with Howard is interesting in that regard:

And then when that came on, I was like this is kind of like a Marvel thing where they’re like hinting to where they’re going.  It was fun.

Ron: That wasn’t really the intention, but I’m glad it did that because maybe it’ll suggest more.  Who knows?

Yeah.  Would you come back for more if they–?

Ron: I would never say never, I just don’t know what’s going on at Imagine.  And by the way, there’s no plan.  So that wasn’t a step toward sequels.  I love this cast.  And I had so much fun in this sort of the filmmaking playground that is this universe.  And so if the answer is I’d be very, very open to it.  I have no idea, you know, whether they would, you know?

The brilliant thing about this movie is that it sets up sequels naturally but could also be left as a standalone.  At the end of the film, Han and Chewie are headed to Tatooine to work for Jabba the Hut, and we know that is what the two were doing before A New Hope.  So they could just leave it at that and it works fine, but there’s also plenty of room to tell further stories – primarily as it pertains to Qi’ra, Maul, Enfys Nest, etc.  I think many people believe that the inclusion of Maul is too interesting to just be a throwaway cameo, which is true – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was done anticipating those further stories to be told in a film (though I imagine he’ll probably appear again).

While there seem to be no sequel plans yet, I hope it’s something that Lucasfilm would consider, with Ron Howard coming back to direct.  I’d love to see further development of Crimson Dawn, with Maul leading the organization and Qi’ra working for him, and I’d love to see further adventures of Han and Chewie.

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