Why JJ Abrams Says Harrison Ford's Broken Leg Was The "Greatest Gift" To 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

What happened when Harrison Ford injured himself on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Find out why director JJ Abrams says that broken leg was in some weird way the "greatest gift to the movie".

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: harrison ford as Han Solo

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly has a large article on Harrison Ford's return to the Millennium Falcon, but I think the interesting bits revolve around the star's injury on set. The Han Solo injury happened mid-way through production and involved a large segment of the Millennium Falcon which came loose and landing and breaking Ford's leg. When the accident happened, Abrams expected to have to rewrite the rest of the script so that Han Solo spent his time sitting in chairs. But that ended up not being the case:

"It wasn't something that we knew for a little while. When it became clear that he was going to be just fine, we realized we didn't need to change that at al. In fact, there are some places where he's more active than he was prior to the accident. As you'll see in the movie, he is running and doing more physical activity in this movie than I think anyone who knows he was injured would expect. Nothing was adjusted or lessened because of that accident. Even for Harrison, who is famously resilient and strong, he blew everyone's minds."

Abrams told the magazine that the injury was actually the "greatest gift to the movie":

"It was obviously a horrible experience that I wish had never happened for obvious reasons. But the truth is, once we knew that Harrison was going to be okay, we all realized this was this greatest gift to the movie, and I would think that any filmmaker would say, 'If I could get a break after a month of shooting, for a few weeks, to recalibrate, I would take it.'"

The break in production gave Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan time to rewrite and rework upcoming scenes, as well as reshoot some footage that they weren't happy with, and also giving the other actors extra time to rehearse. Writer Lawrence Kasdan adds that when Ford returned to the production "a strange kind of thing" happened where the actor "lit up the whole place."

"And he was so funny and warm and helpful to the young people, and generous with his old costars... I don't know. It was kind of miraculous."

The Force Awakens behind the scenes

A couple extra bits of trivia from the piece:

Peter Mayhew, the 7-foot-3 actor who plays Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies and upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, wasn't in the Wookiee suit standing next to Han Solo on Harrison Ford's first day of shooting. The 71-year-old actor had double knee replacement surgery in 2013 and walks with the aid of a cane, so they used a double for some action sequences which required Chewbacca to be more mobile. And one of those scenes was the first scene Harrison Ford had on the film.

While Harrison Ford has come off bitter about his Star Wars legacy in past interviews, Kathleen Kennedy claims that it was easy to convince the actor to return for another Star Wars movie:

"I think what really got him excited was when he read the first draft, and he saw where we were going and what we were doing. He was immediately on board, and then he sat down and had a great conversation with J.J. and went through, in detail, what we were thinking about doing. And then, you know, Harrison — and I've always found this over the years with the Indiana Jones films we've all done together — he's incredibly collaborative when it comes to story and developing his character, and really engaged in the process. And he was every bit that on this film. "