Star Wars has always been a genre mashup. Samurai films, Westerns, and Saturday matinee serials are all part of the magic mix of the saga. And over the years, Star Wars has infused everything from monster movies (Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ “The Zillo Beast”) to straight-up gothic horror (IDW Publishing’s Tales from Vader’s Castle series). But now, something new — and definitely unexpected — is inspiring the galaxy far, far away.
“We found ourselves talking about holiday specials,” James Waugh, vice president, franchise content and strategy at Lucasfilm, tells StarWars.com, “and the heritage of sitting down and watching holiday specials every year, and how beloved and timeless those things are. When looking at what to do next with LEGO Star Wars, it kind of went from there.”
That brainstorm eventually led to The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, coming to Disney+ on November 17 — the day our galaxy observes the now-canonical Star Wars holiday of Life Day. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special picks up post-Episode IX and finds Rey continuing her Jedi training. She comes upon something mystical in a Jedi temple that sends her hurtling through time, meeting Star Wars legends and visiting places of the past — but still, she must get back home for Life Day. The cast features many returning fan favorites, including Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, as well as several Star Wars: The Clone Wars vets: Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Tom Kane (Yoda, along with Qui-Gon Jinn), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Dee Bradley Baker (clone troopers) are all back. “We’re particularly thrilled that these great actors from the Star Wars family chose to reprise their roles and came to play in this LEGO sandbox,” Josh Rimes, director of animation development at Lucasfilm, says.
The creative team looked at their own favorite holiday classics, from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, for inspiration. And what they found was that that kind of storytelling was a surprisingly good fit for Star Wars. “I think what aligns so much about these specials with Star Wars is that, at the end of the day, you don’t have a good Star Wars story if you don’t have heart. If you don’t have soul,” Waugh says. “And I think the reason those holiday stories are timeless is because there are lessons. Whether all of those specials are great or not, they are trying to warm you with a theme about being with your family, caring, loving others, being selfless. These are things that are automatically inherent to Star Wars. So we really wanted to anchor this with the idea of, ‘What is Rey missing right now?’ She is so focused on the burden of being the only Jedi in this new era and the duty of potentially passing on that knowledge. She’s missing the point that there still needs to be time to be with your friends and the family you’ve made.”
“She has a nice It’s a Wonderful Life moment,” says Rimes, “as she reflects on her own mistakes, her own teachings, and what it means to be a mentor.”