When people talk about The Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s through the hushed tones of embarrassment or awe. (“Have you ever seen it? Like really sat down and watched it?”) Well, there’s one brave man challenging that, and that man is none other than Jon Favreau. At a press conference to talk about Disney+’s new Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Favreau shared his feelings about the Holiday Special, and series producer Dave Filoni revealed how much of an influence it had on their epic sci-fi Western.
In case you haven’t seen the classic ABC disaster, the 1978 live-action adventure centers on Chewbacca’s family as they prepare to celebrate Life Day, a Wookiee festival that takes place once a year and seems to be something akin to Christmas. Most of the run time is just Wookiees speaking Shyriiwook, which made it less than easy to follow. There’s also some Wookiee VR porn, Bea Arthur, and an actually really cool Moebius-inspired animation segment that introduced viewers to Boba Fett for the very first time.
During the Q&A, Favreau spoke about the big Holiday Special easter eggs that were shown during the footage presentation and how The Mandalorian is the “perfect jumping-on point for new fans. “I didn’t realize there were a LOT of Holiday Special references… but I guess there are,” Favreau laughed. “There’s definitely the gun, the Pulse Rifle… Here’s the thing that I wanted to do, we’re starting with all these new characters and what’s nice about that is it’s like when we were starting Iron Man so for new fans it was new characters new actors, a new world. So it’s a really nice entry point for people who didn’t know anything about Marvel movies… By the same token, the foundation of all genres is the fans have been there since the beginning, so how do you balance those two things at the same time?”
Favreau continued, “This is where Dave has really been a treasure trove. Whether it’s a humorous reference to Life Day or a prop that has been appreciated by a core group over time, just putting those little Easter eggs in or big movements in the story that reflect storylines in either legends or canon that people have known. How do you weave all of it together so that you don’t have these divided segmented parts of the audience? But you can start to bring it all the way that creates an overarching narrative and rewards the people who’ve been putting the time since day one.”
The writer-director also said his relationship with Dave Filoni contributed as well. “Some of it was when I was writing to see if Dave would catch it and to see what his reaction was,” Favreay said. “And he had veto power over everything. He talked about learning from me but I was learning just as much from him, tuning in on what is too far and where can we push it.”
Filoni explained that the pair would often come up with ideas for episodes over the phone and then the next day he’d be surprised by a script. Though it clearly (jokily) grates he’s come to terms with Favreau’s love for the much-maligned tv-movie. “It’s really fun reading Jon’s take on Star Wars and sometimes I would read the scripts and be like… oh the Holiday Special is back and I’d give him a hard time about it.” Favreau was quick to defend himself, “Well, it happened! It’s there!”
This was met by huge laughs from the crowd of press many of whom were Star Wars who have long known the Holiday Special as a near unspeakable thing. As for whether or not the Iron Man director would take on a new Holiday Special? “I’m open to it” Favreau stated as he walked off stage. What a note to leave on. Now all Disney needs to do is add the Star Wars Holiday Special to Disney+.
Featured Image: Disney+, Lucasfilm