Harrison Ford’s Contributions To ‘Star Wars’ Shouldn’t Make Han Solo An Improv Character


In case you were under a rock last week, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy fired directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller weeks before filming was set to wrap on the next Star Wars anthology film. They then brought in world-famous narrator — and director — Ron Howard to get Han Solo back on track. Rumors are still flying faster than the Millennium Falcon as to what happened, but consensus seems to be Lord and Miller thought they were making a comedy and Lucasfilm thought that was a bad idea.

Of course, fans of all stripes lost their minds. Star Wars fans aren’t known for our even-keeled personalities or ability to roll with the punches. Plus, Lord and Miller have a cult following after their successes such as 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. The duo has a specific style of irreverent comedy that manages to poke fun at tired, dated, and trite concepts while also managing to give them the kind of heart that keeps their work from sliding into parody. All of this meant the knives were out for Kathleen Kennedy. How dare she fire men who just want the creative freedom to make their movie? And how dare Lawrence Kasdan try to become the shadow director?

Parsing through the outrage on social media, a weird theme began to pop up. Harrison Ford ad-libbed his famous response of “I know” to Carrie Fisher’s “I love you” in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and therefore Lord and Miller should be allowed to do whatever they want because obviously Lawrence Kasdan — who wrote The Empire Strikes Back — is a buzzkill. Only that’s not entirely true. Like most urban legends, the story of how the famous exchange came to be has been warped until it barely resembles the truth. Luckily, Yahoo found the receipts as to what really happened.

[Orginally] Later Han kisses Leia, she says, “I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true.” But he doesn’t say, “I love you” — his line is “Just remember that, ‘cause I’ll be back.”

On the day he shot the carbonite scene in June 1979, director Irvin Kershner was actively making changes to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s script. Amazingly, there’s a complete record of when and how these changes occurred, because unit publicist Alan Arnold was recording everything on audio cassette. In a conversation between Ford and Kershner transcribed in Rinzler’s book, the director and star agree that the love scene needs to be less florid. “I think she ought to just say, ‘I love you,’ as I’m passing by her,” Ford suggests to Kershner. Later in the conversation, he makes the change to his own line, saying, “If she says, ‘I love you,’ and I say, ‘I know,’ it’s beautiful and it’s acceptable and it’s funny.”

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