The High Republic’ Authors Talk Phase 3 and Character Deaths

Apr 15, 2023

In 2020, Lucasfilm launched the Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative, which tells stories of the golden age of the Jedi, centuries before the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The initiative, which has produced best-selling novels and comic runs, and will soon branch out into visual media with the animated series Young Jedi Adventures and the live-action The Acolyte has been a massive success with audiences.

At Star Wars Celebration Europe, High Republic authors George Mann, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Daniel José Older, Claudia Gray, and Lydia Kang, along with Lucasfilm Publishing Creative Director Michael Siglain, sat down for a roundtable interview with Collider’s Arezou Amin to talk jumping back in time for Phase 2, what they hope readers take with them into Phase 3, and which songs best describe their stories.
COLLIDER: Talking Star Wars: The High Republic, now that Phase 2 is almost over, what has been the most exciting part of getting to jump back in time like this?

DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER: Well, for me, it’s getting to explore a character who we met really old, but when she’s really young, and they’re both rebellious ages of her life, but in totally different ways. And so, getting to trace the roots of that, and having just so much fun with characters and pirates and chaos, and all the other elements that are part of the adventures, but taking a totally different direction than Phase 1. So it’s really just exploring a different palette of themes and ideas and excitement, and all that. It’s just been such a pleasure.

CAVAN SCOTT: And on the flip side of that, I’m enjoying introducing characters who we will see again in the future, in every sense of that word.

LYDIA KANG: I think it’s cool to see the Republic at a completely different time when communication’s not really working as well, so there are more problems in this era because everything is so new and different, and you sort of get to see the building blocks of what happens later. So, you know, the two Chancellor system, everything. So it was really fun to explore the differences and some of the beginnings that you don’t always get to see 300 years later.

GEORGE MANN: There’s a certain amount of freedom to going into a brand-new era, as well. Like I said, being able to introduce characters and tell new stories that feel slightly different, but to then set up things that are going to hopefully pay off later on, as well. Not just characters but other things, like exploring the origins of the Nihil.

Image via Disney

Which I personally love very much. Was there ever a concern with how the audience was going to react to such a massive shift, or were you confident that the Star Wars love, and the High Republic love, was going to hold strong?

CHARLES SOULE: It was something we talked about. Because if Phase 1 was executed properly, you would create a lot of characters that people would really love and connect with, and then you would kill most of them [laughter]. Then you would make them wait quite a while before they would get to see what happened, how the storyline that they’ve invested so much of their emotional state into, and money, all those things, they want to know how the story is gonna go.

So we talked about that, but at a certain point, the story can dictate some of those choices too. And, just as all of my colleagues said, there are a lot of advantages from a storytelling perspective to going back in time in Phase 2, and we wanted all of that. We wanted to not just tell the backstory in flashbacks or little anecdotes, we wanted to really make it rich. And when Phase 3 rolls in, you’ll see why those choices were made and why, yes, anticipation makes the heart grow fonder– is that it? That’s not it. What is–?

OLDER: Separation.

KANG: Distance.

SOULE: Well anyway, everyone’s heart is gonna be so fond [laughs] when Phase 3 begins. It’s gonna be great.

OLDER: That’s one of my favorite things about the High Republic, both as a reader reading my fellow authors’ work and as a writer to be a part of it is, that there’s been so much risk-taking. And I think that’s such a bastion of good storytelling. There were versions of this story that we could have done much more carefully and safer, and I think us deciding to take that big swing and jump back in time– because that is what the story asked of us, and that really was the best way to tell the story, knowing that we could have lost people on the way. And also knowing that that was a challenge that we were giving ourselves that we then had to step up to make Phase 2 live up to all that we’ve done in Phase 1, and also get people excited for Phase 3, which is a huge writing challenge. And I think as a team, we all really accepted that challenge together and stepped up to it, and that’s such an exciting environment to write in.

SCOTT: I think the last Celebration gave us the confidence. I mean, we were already locked on the road, but we had the fear that we would lose people. But at that panel last year, it was such a moment, that panel, when we realized we’d never experienced people face-to-face in the High Republic because the world ended when we were doing it.

And then, when we showed the logo and people went mad because it was blue, we were like, “We’re gonna be okay,” and when we started to show the characters, and the response. We got off the panel and I opened my phone, and there was a fanart of Matty, and I was like, “I think we’re gonna be alright.” And that was the daunting part, then we went, “Right, now we’ve really got to make this work,” because these people love this stuff.

SOULE: I remember being in that room and sitting on the stage and not being able to see the back of the room, and every seat was filled. It was like fading off to the horizon and filled with High Republic fans. It was really really– I mean, I think we all felt the same.

SCOTT: We were so giddy coming off that stage.

OLDER: And then the cosplay immediately after, right? That was its own form of mind-blowing entirely because people have only known about these characters for a couple of months at that point. And then, to your point already, even just announcing that people were doing fanart and there’s already cosplay of Phase 2 characters here today, like, that’s incredible.

SOULE: If we go to the panels, there’s probably, like, eight people sitting in the room

SCOTT: [Laughs] And they’re our families.

Image via Lucasfilm

Once Phase 2 is over, other than very full and fond hearts, what do you hope that everyone takes with them into Phase 3?

SCOTT: Hope.

SOULE: …that someone survived.

SCOTT: Because we left the galaxy in quite a bad state, and we will see what that state is. But, this is Star Wars, and at its heart there is hope. Even in the High Republic’s darkest moments – and there have been a few – we’ve always kept that thing at the center. It’s always what we’ve been trying to do. And we’ve been saying, “It’s darkest before the dawn, and the dawn is coming, but it’s gonna get, perhaps, a little bit darker yet, but it’s still there.” We’ve got these characters and we’re seeing how they cope with that darkness. And that’s the exciting thing.

OLDER: I think, too, that Yoda ends Phase 1 by basically saying that so many of the answers to what lies ahead lie in the past, right? Now we’ve seen a lot of what those answers are, but we don’t know how the puzzle fits together. And so I think there’s a lot of thrill in the anticipation of having more of the puzzle pieces, but still, there’s so much we don’t know, or the readers won’t know going in. We know everything, but I think that’s a really exciting place to be in as a reader, to know like, “Wow, now there’s this whole other phase worth of material and information, but we don’t know which one is relevant to what’s going ahead, which isn’t, but we have all this whole palette to look at,” and that’s where the fun is.

SCOTT: Where the fun begins.

KANG: I think it’s cool that you’re watching history unfold in this galaxy, and we’ve been writing it. It’s just really cool that everybody gets to sort of hop on board for the next part.

SOULE: My thing, I would say, is that we’ve been planning a lot of these beats, we were working on Phase 3 at the same time as we were working on Phase 1 in the very first meetings. And so, these parts of the story that we’ve been wanting to tell for, it’s going to end up being six years, when all is said and done, close to that. And we haven’t wavered, we’re still going to do what we were going to do. So we are thrilled, and we’ve been living with the story for half a decade. So if we’re excited, everybody else should be too.

To cap things off on a fun note, if you had to describe Phase 2 with a song, what song would it be?

MANN: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.

SCOTT: “I Will Survive.”

CLAUDIA GRAY: This is one of those moments like, “I’ve never heard a song before.”

OLDER: “A Pirate’s Life Is the Life for Me.”

SOULE: “Knives Out” by Radiohead.

GRAY: I guess for Quest of the Jedi we’d have to go with something like “The Age of Aquarius.”

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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