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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Lando Calrissian Was NEARLY Star Wars' First Clone

Following the success of 1977's Star Wars, work began a year later on the next film tentatively called "Star Wars Sequel." Leigh Brackett penned the film's first draft, which introduced familiar characters and ideas such as Luke's sister, Yoda and Lando Calrissian. However, there were fundamental differences between the draft and the finished product, such as Luke's sister not being Leia, Yoda's name being Minch and Lando Calrissian being a clone.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando is an ex-smuggler and gambler who managed to become mayor of Cloud City, going from a betrayer to an ally of Han and the Rebel Alliance. But before becoming the character that fans were introduced to, Lando's characterization and setting went through many changes aside from his clone origins. In the draft, Han builds up his character and explains to Leia where Lando came from, stating, "We used to be friends, years ago. I think his family was refugees from the Clone Wars. Anyway, he was kicking around, and we flew some, well ... trips together." The implication that Lando is a smuggler like Han isn't lost on Leia. That suspicion is a factor that survives the first draft to the theatrical release.

Instead of arriving on the Cloud City of Bespin, the draft calls it the Orbital City of Hoth instead. Hoth later becomes the location of the Rebel snow base at the beginning of the film. Like in Empire, the Millennium Falcon lands, and Lando greets the crew. But instead of being called Calrissian, the screenplay names him Baron Lando Kadar and compares him to Italian actor Rudolph Valentino. Another change from the script to the screen is Lando's close friend and associate Lobot. Instead of Lobot helping Lando welcome his guests, a woman named Ethania Eredith accompanies Lando. Following the dismantling of C-3PO, Leia grows suspicious about Lando's intentions and origins, even asking Han if he's a clone, to which he replies, "I don't know, he never told me. I never thought about it. What is all this, anyway?"

On their way to dinner, Lando finally admits his true origins, explaining, "Yes. I am a clone. Of the Ashardi family. My great-grandfather wanted many sons, and he produced them from the cells of his own body... But since the wars, there are not many of us left, and we try not to attract attention." The scene runs similarly to the film but with much more dialogue between the characters. However, another scene that makes it from the first draft is the dinner betrayal, which occurs right after Lando admits his clone origins.

Sadly, just a month after completing The Empire Strikes Back's first draft, Brackett passed away from cancer. George Lucas later took on two drafts of the movie and effectively abandoned Lando's backstory. Following Lucas' drafts, Lawrence Kasdan later joined on as a writer and helped sculpt the final version of what became the theatrical release. While not all of Brackett's ideas made it into the movie, some of the film's best scenes did, such as Lando's betrayal with Darth Vader at the dinner table.

While Lando's clone family storyline was abandoned, the idea stayed on even past the prequel trilogy with the defected clone trooper, Cut Lawquane, from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Much like Lando Kadar, he went on to live his own life and became an individual in a galaxy inhabited with faces that look like his. In a strategy akin to Lando's, he chooses to lay low from the Republic and later the Empire. Thanks to Cut, Brackett's idea of a clone creating their own life saw the light decades after her death.

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