Love it or hate it, that big prequel trilogy cameo at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story can pretty much be blamed on one man. And that’s Ron Howard’s son. The director’s offspring is a huge Star Wars fan, and after consulting with his dad, it was pretty much decided who the looming crime boss at the end of Solo should be. And Ron Howard actually lobbied pretty hard for it to happen.
So, who are we talking about? If you haven’t seen Solo yet, and judging from the box office numbers, it’s very possible you haven’t, be warned that there are spoilers to follow. Solo tells the sweeping story of the famed space pirate and how he got his name. It also introduces audiences to the bigger crime underworld lurking beneath the shiny veneer of the Star Wars universe. And one of the biggest bad guys in this dark underbelly? Why, it’s none other than Darth Maul.
Yes, the Sith Lord who gets sliced in half at the end of The Phantom Menace is alive and well, and conversing with Han’s former lover Qi’Ra. It was a jaw-dropping moment for many, especially for those who haven’t kept up with all the cartoons and novels that explain how Maul survived his seemingly brutal demise at the end of the first prequel at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In a recent interview, director Ron Howard reveals that he lobbied quite hard to get Darth Maul in the movie. And he’s the one who most wanted the huge surprise reveal. As he explains, the script was written in a rather ‘generic way’ that would have allowed for any number of other familiar Star Wars faces to be plugged in. Says Howard about his decision to use Darth Maul.
“[The script] just sort of said ‘Boss’. And I thought when I came in, I assumed they knew who it was and they were just keeping it under wraps. And they didn’t. But Maul was listed as one of the candidates. And I lobbied hard for that. I thought that made a lot of sense to me. I found that character to be really effective.”
But Ron Howard wasn’t definitely sold on the idea until he talked to his 31 year-old son Reed, who is a die hard Star Wars fan. Reed convinced his father this was the only way to go. Howard further explains.
“I knew for a fact, without asking directly and giving anything away, my son Reed who just turned 31, who’s a dedicated Star Wars fan, he’s a golfer. He’s not in the business. Dedicated Star Wars fan. I just whispered that possibility and he just thought that would be incredibly cool. And so for that generation, I thought, well that was gonna be a pretty interesting idea. And doing a little more research and understanding sort of how the character had worked elsewhere, I thought it was good. The writers were on board with that, but then we actually shot it twice. We did it once, and then we realized, it wasn’t quite Maul enough yet.”
The second round of shoots included Darth Maul’s blazing red lightsaber, which was absent from the first footage. And he claims it ‘intensified’ what they were going after. Co-writer Jonathan Kasdan definitely wants to bring Maul back in future Star Wars movies.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about, well, now we get to really do his mechanical lower half and when you go back and look at the movie more and more, you see this really elaborate bit of design they did within there. I’m ready to write an entire movie about his bottom half and how it all works. His intestinal tract.”
A lot of that has actually been explored in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels TV shows, as well as the books and comics. You can discover Maul’s path to resurrection and future death, once again at the hands of Obi-Wan, in our own video detailing the character’s official canon arc before his reappearance in Solo. Ron Howard’s comments come courtesy of /film.