Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

Millennium Falcon Chase

“Hang on sweetheart, we’re gonna do some flying.” That’s one of the lines Han has in this script and yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. In fact, the whole relationship between Han and Leia is significantly amped up in the script. One example? After evading the Empire and escaping into the asteroid, Han and Leia kiss on the Falcon. It’s a great scene but, in the script, it’s much more descriptive. It says Han kisses her with “slow, hot lips.” He “takes his time, as if he had forever” and kisses Leia “like she had never been kissed before.” Leia “almost faints” when Han kisses her.

As Reitman read all this, the crowd was surprised by the changes. Page threw her arms up in the air to be like, “Oh yeah.” Meanwhile, her delivery of Solo’s lines began to find a rhythm. It wasn’t Harrison Ford’s swagger, but more of a laid-back, fast-talking, no-nonsense bullshitter. The same can’t be said for Jessica Alba, who struggled with finding the heart in Leia for most of the evening.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

Mark Hamill, however, had no problem finding emotion. As Obi-Wan, he did a version of a wise man that was kind of Alec Guinness, but with a deeper timbre. Then, as the Emperor, Hamill put on one of his patented evil voices. Raspy, crackling, perfect for this evil being. Boba Fett was similar, just more metallic, just like the movie. Then there was Rainn Wilson, whose guttural roars anytime Chewbacca spoke just cracked everyone up.

Some additions: when the Falcon begins fly out of the “cave,” C-3PO starts to freak out and say individual goodbyes to everyone as the teeth are closing. Plus, when they’re trying to figure out a system to fly to, Han reveals that he keeps travel logs, which impresses Leia.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

Dagobah

On his way to Dagobah, Luke has a little conversation with R2-D2. Which meant, at the live read, it was Jason Reitman whistling at Aaron Paul. It was funny, but somehow worked because, at this point, Paul had finally made a choice for Skywalker. He was going to portray him with a deeper voice and straightforward confidence. I applaud him for making the decision and sticking with it, but in doing so some of the essential innocence and fear of Luke’s character were lost.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

In the original script, Yoda was a small blue creature, but no matter. Kevin Pollack channelled Frank Oz’s character. He knew it was better not to mess with perfection. If you can hear the original Yoda in your head, that was basically Pollack, and really that’s the best thing he could’ve done.

Besides Yoda’s color, this section actually has several other big changes between the script and the movie. Luke tells Yoda “I feel much stronger when I’m mad,” which leads to a discussion of the dark side. The tree where he decapitates Darth Vader has a huge creature outside it, is filled with a membrane like substance, and has bugs everywhere. Actually, it’s much creepier. Another funny note, after Yoda’s line “Do, or do not, there is no try,” the script immediately says that Luke “tries” to move his X-Wing.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

As Luke leaves, hearing Aaron Paul, Kevin Pollack and Mark Hamill do the last big scene featuring Luke, Yoda and Obi-Wan almost brought this Star Wars fan to tears. Having the original Luke now as the old mentor felt so right; Yoda was Yoda; and having a new young, strong protagonist was simply exciting. Less than one year away from the next one, folks.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

Cloud City

The arrival of Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3P0 on Cloud City meant Dennis Haysbert finally got into the mix as Lando. He was solid in the role. When you think about it, Lando doesn’t really have a ton to do in Empire. A few walk and talk scenes, betraying his friends, then he regains their trust. In fact, the whole character of Lobot isn’t in this version of the script at all, giving Lando even less to do. There is, however, some more discussion of his love of the Millennium Falcon and a joke Han does about not planning to “gamble away” Leia when Lando comments on her.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

This is also the section where Stephen Merchant really won the crowd. When the silver protocol droid says something rude to C-3P0, Merchant replied, “How fucking rude,” which crushed the audience. He of course, then gets blown to bits, which Merchant mimed like bullet time in The Matrix.

The carbon freeze scene has the most romantic line in the film: The “I love you, I know” exchange between Han and Leia. Though Page, and Alba especially, didn’t really go too deep with their roles, they definitely knew this was important. They turned to each other and threw genuine emotion into the lines. In this brief exchange, you heard that Ford swagger from Page, and the frightened naivety of Leia. It was a fleeting moment, but a nice one.

Film Independent Live Read: "The Empire Strikes Back"

The carbon freeze itself is different in the script too. In fact, it makes more sense. I always wondered how that steam created all this hard carbonite around Han. In the script, it says that fluids and sparks fell on him. Then a creature puts a box on the side of the block.

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