According to the timeline in The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo would have been frozen in carbonite for a year. But did you know that there was more to it than the storyline explains?
Harrison Ford’s character was frozen in carbonite because he only signed on for two films of the Star Wars franchise. After the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, George Lucas was not sure that Ford would return for the other films. To be safe, he kept Han Solo frozen.
What Happened in the Film?
Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, was not initially intended to be frozen in carbonite as what was depicted in the first Star Wars trilogy. But the scene was definitely a defining moment for the actor.
After Lando Calrissian betrayed Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, he and the rest of the gang were surrendered to Darth Vader. Solo was selected to be frozen in a slab of carbonite. Boba Fett collected the bounty from Jabba the Hutt after he delivered Solo to him.
In the Return of the Jedi, Solo was still frozen in carbonite until Leia, Luke, Lando, and Chewbacca rescued him. (Source: Screen Rant)
Was Being Frozen in Carbonite Planned Ahead?
George Lucas decided to change his initial plans for Han Solo when Harrison Ford’s popularity as Indiana Jones was growing. Unlike Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, Ford only signed up for one Star Wars sequel.
Ford hoped that his character would be killed off at the sequel’s end, but Lucas and the rest of the production team wanted to keep their option open. By freezing Solo in carbonite, they had the choice of bringing his character back. (Source: Screen Rant)
Why Did Harrison Ford Return?
Howard Kazanjian convinced Ford to come back and reprise his role as Han Solo on the third film. Kazanjian also worked with Ford in the Indiana Jones series, and the two were good friends. It was tough, but he was able to convince Ford anyway.
I played a very important part in bringing Harrison back for Return of the Jedi. Harrison, unlike Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill signed only a two picture contract. That is why he was frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back.
When I suggested to George we should bring him back, I distinctly remember him saying that Harrison would never return. I said what if I convinced him to return. George simply replied that we would then write him in to Jedi.
I had just recently negotiated his deal for Raiders of the Lost Ark with Phil Gersh of the Gersh Agency. I called Phil who said he would speak with Harrison. When I called back again, Phil was on vacation. David, his son, took the call and we negotiated Harrison’s deal.
When Phil returned to the office several weeks later he called me back and said I had taken advantage of his son in the negotiations. I had not. But agents are agents.Howard Kazanjian
Can you imagine the Star Wars series without Han Solo? His character’s role truly helped boost the franchise in pop culture and even made a mark in future films. Han’s presence in the newer movies was definitely remarkable, especially his connection with Kylo Ren. (Source: Screen Rant)