In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams talked about Ford’s first day on set to reprise his role as Han Solo after 32 years. While Ford previously said that his character was “dumb as a stump,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said Ford appeared “overcome himself to be back in it.”
That is, until the Millennium Falcon came loose and fell on Ford, breaking his leg halfway through production. Abrams recently told The Daily Show that he tried so hard to get the door off the actor that he ended up rupturing a vertebrae and had to wear a back brace.
However, this didn’t stop the crew from being motivated to shoot the film. Instead, Abrams called it a blessing in disguise because it gave everybody more time to rehearse, reshoot scenes they weren’t happy with and work out any kinks.
“It was obviously a horrible experience that I wish had never happened for obvious reasons,” Abrams said. “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.'”
And Ford wasn’t hindered by the accident either. According to Abrams, Ford seems to be more active than he was prior to the injury: “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.”
A few months later, Ford was involved in a plane crash, but recovered from that so fast that Lawrence Kasdan, who worked on the “Star Wars” trilogy, called him an “actual superhero.”
In the interview, Abrams also opened up about other cast member’s injuries: Ford’s Falcon co-pilot Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca, had joint problems and underwent double knee replacement surgery. After all, he is now 71. Curiously, the crew had had no idea that Mayhew and Ford are close friends; this was only revealed at a dinner when the whole cast was reunited and started shooting. According to Abrams, Ford came into the room and gave Mayhew the biggest hug.
Kasdan had nothing but good things to say about the actor, who is now 73 years old.
“It’s a strange kind of thing,” Kasdan says. “But there was this moment of pause, and when Harrison came back, he 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.”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will hit theaters on Dec. 18.