WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story, in theaters now.
With Ron Howard finally getting the Millennium Falcon off the ground in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the director is now addressing how the film's surprise cameo came about.
Much like 1999's The Phantom Menace, Solo has been greeted harshly by many critics and fans. However, that's not the only thing the two films have in common. There's also the appearance by Episode I villain Darth Maul, revealed in Solo to be the puppet master pulling the strings of the criminal organization of Crimson Dawn.
Speaking to /Film, Howard revealed that Maul wasn't part of the script when he replaced fired directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller.
"I will say that was scripted and there was a lot of uncertainty as to who that character would be. So it was sort of initially written in a rather generic way," Howard confirmed. He said that what began as an unnamed character morphed into The Phantom Menace's fallen Sith. "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."
As another tie to Maul's movie appearance, Howard brought back stunt actor Ray Park to play him and added voice actor Samuel Witwer, who portrayed the character on the animated Star Wars Rebels.
"My son Reed who just turned 31, who’s a dedicated Star Wars fan," he said. "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."
It just wouldn't be Maul without the whoosh of a lightsaber, which Howard revealed was the icing on the cake. "We actually shot it twice. Because we did it once, and then we realized it wasn’t quite Maul enough yet." However, Howard's comments also suggest that he knew some people would be on the fence about the big reveal. "[We] added the lightsaber. And intensified it. And definitely took a big jump. How did you like him showing up? How did you feel about it?"
The appearance of Maul bridges some of the gaps between his resurrection on the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and his "second" death in Star Wars Rebels, but there are still questions hanging over what the cameo means for the franchise.
In theaters now, director Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett.