Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy surprised Star Wars fans recently when she admitted 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story had made the company rethink the practice of recasting the saga’s most iconic characters.
“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” Kennedy told Vanity Fair while discussing the underperforming prequel starring Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, the character immortalized by Harrison Ford in four previous movies. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”
As Kennedy noted at different points in the interview, “We can’t do something with Luke Skywalker that isn’t Mark Hamill.”
Recasting remains a complicated issue with fans. Solo was the lowest-grossing Star Wars movie of all time upon its release. Two of the franchise’s most popular characters, however, are a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), who clash once again this weekend in the eagerly anticipated Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. (The show also features a very young Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.) One popular fantasy casting movement on social media rallies for Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown to play a young Princess Leia.
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment Thursday at Star Wars Celebration, Kennedy elaborated on her thoughts regarding recasting.
“I don’t think it’s a new stance, I think it’s an observation,” she tells us. “We have so many different great stories we can tell, and new characters we can create and expand upon the mythology that [George Lucas] created. I think that relying on just going back and recasting and doing stories over again, I would just say at this stage of things, we can do better than that. And we’re trying to do better than that. And eventually fans may tell us that that’s what they really want.”
Kennedy credits fans with encouraging the studio to produce Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as the upcoming series Andor, a prequel series to the popular prequel movie Rogue One starring Diego Luna and arriving on Disney+ in August.
“They really, really love those characters, and they want more of those characters,” she says. “That means something to us, when we get that kind of reaction. But I think just deciding that we’re gonna start cherry-picking legacy characters and recasting and doing stories around them, I just don’t think we need to do that right now.”
Another beloved character — and one of the brightest spots to the otherwise divisive Solo — was young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. A Lando “event series” to be developed by Justin Simien (Dear White People) was announced in December 2020, but updates about the spinoff have been few and far between since, and was not mentioned in Thursday’s Lucasfilm presentation that focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, The Mandalorian, Ahsoka and even introduced a new series, Skeleton Wars, starring Jude Law.
“The only updates are that Donald Glover and all of us keep having conversations. He’s a popular guy, and he’s a very busy guy,” Kennedy says about the Atlanta creator and star.
“I mean, if we could be doing that tomorrow, I’d love it. But it’s working around everybody’s schedules.”
Watch Kathleen Kennedy talk about Harrison Ford filming Indiana Jones 5 at age 79: