Harrison Ford Was Asked to Return to ‘Star Wars’ Before a Script Even Existed

It seems appropriate now to discuss one spoiler in The Rise of Skywalker: The surprise cameo of Harrison Ford again as Han Solo. As a pivotal scene in giving Kylo Ren redemption, Han Solo appears to Kylo Ren in the final quarter of the film to persuade his son to turn to the good side.

Whether this was a hallucination on the part of Kylo or Han really being a Force Ghost was never explained. Maybe it’ll have better exposition in the reported extended cut when released on Blu-Ray.

Either way, Ford showing up to do this cameo not only surprised fans, but perhaps himself. When J.J. Abrams asked him to come back, there wasn’t even a script ready yet. Although it might have been a better indicator of how good of a salesman Abrams is.

Why did Ford agree to come back?

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford | Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Abrams apparently revealed his idea for Han Solo’s return to Ford while they were at lunch together. This was when TRoS was still in development, and Ford initially said it was crazy to bring Han back considering he was dead. Abrams managed to explain death is more than a little relative in the Star Wars universe (and a few other places).

Ford admits to Abrams’ convincing personality in being a factor why he agreed to appear. One can still debate whether it was really a good idea, though, something Ford himself probably argues over in his own head.

After all, when asked about whether Han was a Force Ghost in an interview recently, Ford used an expletive in saying he didn’t care. To Star Wars fans, this might make Han’s appearance all the more problematic in Ford rebelling on any logical explanation.

Another aspect to Ford agreeing to the Han cameo is perhaps his age. Is he really agreeing to do things he probably wouldn’t have agreed to 30 years ago?

The emotion of seeing Han talking to his son is still hard to deny

Almost anyone who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy will admit they probably gasped when seeing Han Solo make his appearance. Ford has been known for being adamant about wanting to kill off Han for years. Capitulating to a possibly contrived cameo post-death just didn’t seem like typical Ford behavior.

Regardless, it was still an emotional moment and gave a complete arc to the Han Solo character. Leaving it open to interpretation on whether Kylo just imagined his father there or Han had become a Force Ghost was probably a smart creative decision. One can only wish now there isn’t a concrete explanation in a different cut of TRoS.

Others will still probably argue Ford was hoodwinked into doing a cameo he wouldn’t have done in a different era. There is an argument to be made he’s doing things now he would have thought were terrible ideas during his cinematic peak of the 1980s and ’90s.

Can Abrams convince anyone to join a film?

There’s likely a lot of truth to J.J. Abrams being one of the best movie-making salespeople out there. Convincing Harrison Ford to do a Han Solo cameo is true salesmanship of the highest order.

This isn’t to say Ford’s movie decisions lately don’t seem a little more rushed toward finding a legacy compared to several decades ago. Also, doing a film like Call of the Wild with a CGI dog seems like something he would have considered below his league back when The Fugitive had him at his A-game.

At age 77, he’s probably looking to go full circle on his most iconic characters. He’s done so with Han Solo and Rick Deckard from Blade Runner. Now he’s likely going to do the same with Indiana Jones for (undoubtedly) the last movie in the franchise.

Since death is still a halfway point in Star Wars, however, will there be another good producer/salesman able to convince Ford to come back as Han Solo in one more cameo?