If you were let down by Solo: A Star Wars Story, you weren’t the only one. Even one of the movie stars says she was “disappointed” by her character’s fate in the film, which told the origin of a young Han Solo (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and wound up being one of the least successful Star Wars films in history. (In fact it’s the lowest-grossing live-action Star Wars film ever. Only the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars made less money worldwide.)
The underwhelmed party in this case is Thandiwe Newton, who appeared in Solo as Val, the wife and partner in space crime of master crook Tobias Beckett, played Woody Harrelson. The young Han hooks up with Beckett and Val and joins them on a heist of a space train. In the ensuing chaos, Val is killed, setting up much of the rest of the film’s story.
That twist sort of worked within the story, but Newton told Inverse she “felt disappointed by Star Wars that my character was killed.” She also revealed in the interview that her death wasn’t in the script.
Then she described what was originally supposed to happen:
It’s much easier just to have me die than it is to have me fall into a vacuum of space so I can come back sometime. That’s what it originally was: that the explosion and she falls out and you don’t know where she’s gone. So I could have come back at some point. But when we came to filming, as far as I was concerned and was aware, when it came to filming that scene, it was too huge a set-piece to create, so they just had me blow up and I’m done.
Even at the time of production, Newton says, she thought to herself “This is a big, big mistake … you don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you f—ing joking?”
Val was likely a casualty of the many issues behind the scenes of Solo. The film was begun by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but they left the project during production over creative differences with Lucasfilm. Ron Howard stepped in as their replacement and finished the movie, but a lot of changes were made in the switch. You have to assume Val being definitively killed instead of giving her a more ambiguous fate was one such change.
Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story is currently available for streaming on Disney+. As for the original directors’ version, it seems highly unlikely that Lucasfilm will ever #ReleaseTheLordAndMillerCut.
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