Today was interesting. Often times after I do a write up about something I’ve seen, a source or two will contact me to say “bingo” or “no way, Jose.” Today I was contacted and given a few additional pieces of concepts. What is interesting about them is I think they might kind of solve an older mystery. Time will tell how “on” or “off” I am about this. But I think this adds up, so stick with me.
You will remember when the casting calls initially hit they were looking for (thanks to Jeremy Conrad for reminding me):
Forty something male, fit, military type.
There were rumors the role was changed shortly after the call went out. Then there were rumors the role was split into two roles. Actor Sam Witwer, who is about that age, commented he was about to audition when the parameters of the role changed and he didn’t get a shot at it. That kind of confirmed the gist of the rumors to an extent back then.
When looking at the development of the concept art, I see a white male, about 40, holding a Han Solo blaster, doing some of the same things John Boyega will do in the film. I think this might explain some of the confusion around certain aspects of his character (and in the earlier draft the crash is in the snow whereas in the final film its in the sands of Abu Dhabi). I can’t help but speculate if the remainder of the original 40 year character’s functions were given to Oscar Issac (who sounds like a merc) or perhaps less likely, but possibly to the elusive Domhnall Gleeson?
Another very interesting thing about the concept pieces is that bad guy helmets tried out for the “Sith” villains were tried out on this character as a helmet. It looks like many of the rejected helmets were given to this character. But these helmet designs are worked out and developed pieces of art. They eventually settled on the type of helmet Star Wars Underworld showed us a few weeks ago, which appears to be that kind of design taken in a different direction.
If you call, I mentioned a piece that was like a “Templar Knight” which clearly evolved into the more final designs we’ve seen so far. Its a face plate with two round eye holes and mouth piece. That character is shown with a “dark saber” like Maul’s from The Clone Wars and two purple sabers in another depiction. Well, it appears they took that design and tried to use it again on the 40 year old merc/Boyega character.
Another interesting note, we mentioned that some concept art for “Kira” had a helmet and the goggles flipped out and she could turn the helmet into a goggle set. This same sort of function was used here. But the face shield of the mask could flip up. showing us the actor’s face. The design is still in the “Templar Knight” design, but it has been made less “crusader” in tone and more technical in nature instead. Basically they took the knight’s helmet design and married it with a TIE pilot helmet.
Both pieces of art use the same face drawing and helmet but the coloring is different. One is black. But the helmet has a design on it. It reminds me of the Japanese WWII era flag. It goes in the same place the TIE pilot helmets have the Imperial symbol. The symbols are a red circle with a white sun with sunbeams shooting from its core. The sun beams even go down onto the both sides of the mask’s mouth.
The second design is the same artwork. But the helmet has lots a lot of the black paint it once had and white shows through. The design still has the white core of the sun and a red circle around the sun, but the sunbeams are now yellow. The first design works a little better, but I can see what they tried it.
I speculate the character, when he was the 40 year old merc had too much riding on his character. He was everything and had too much going on. I think they might have split the characters to simply them and make them easier to understand functionally. But that’s just a guess.
When I look at the art before a certain date, it looks like the guy was a special ops Imperial who went rogue. He then became a solider of fortune and a pilot for the heroes. I could be totally wrong, but it seems like in the earlier drafts, the character had function, but not a lot of definition. This is probably why solution was a total rewrite beyond the parameters of what Micheal Arndt was brought aboard to do. So J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan reorganized and restructured the story and characters.
But like Artoo-Detoo, I have been known to make mistakes…from time to time.