Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, said he was consulted by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams about the decision to kill Han Solo before Star Wars: The Force Awakens was made.
Iger spoke briefly about working on bringing the new era of Star Wars to Disney during a conversation with Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton at the magazine’s annual Summit in Los Angeles. Iger said that when Disney and Lucasfilm first started working with Abrams on The Force Awakens, one of their mutual concerns was how to balance legacy with innovation; more bluntly, how much fan service could they get away with versus how many original characters, new worlds and weapons would have to be introduced to appease the audience.
That conversation led to a much bigger discussion about whether Han should live or die in The Force Awakens.
“We had a big debate about Han Solo,” Iger said. “Should he die or not? It was a decision made by Kennedy and Abrams, but I got involved.”
Iger added that he enjoyed working with Kennedy on the Star Wars films, admitting that he had a draft of Star Wars: Episode IX sitting on his desk, but joked that it was only fun if the films were good. Iger didn’t address the recent controversy surrounding some of the Star Wars films — including the dismissal of Colin Trevorrow from Star Wars: Episode IX and Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the untitled Han Solo project.
In his tenure as CEO at Disney, Iger has been responsible for negotiating some of the biggest deals in the company’s history. It was under Iger that Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm were all brought into the Disney fold. The CEO has tried to step down a few times in recent years, but at the board of directors’ request he has stayed on. Iger has confirmed that he will absolutely, without question, step down in 2019, but he admits he isn’t sure what’s next. Rumors have been flying for years that Iger would run for public office, even for California’s governor.
“I’m leaving Disney in mid-’19,” Iger said. “I’ll be 68. I want to know what’s on the other side [of Disney.] I’ll figure it out when I have to.”
Disney and Lucasfilm’s next Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, will be released on Dec. 15.