J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and no matter how you slice it, that's a long time. A person can completely change and become way different than the person we once knew. The sequel will not spell out every detail and story that happened in that thirty-year gap, but there will be some details that would give us an idea of the things that happened and how the characters changed, including Han Solo.
Harrison Ford sat down with Cinemablend's Eric Eisenberg to talk about his role in the Star Wars saga, and when he was asked about discovering a balance in the film between who Han Solo was and who he is now, Ford couldn't really open about about the details on how the famed smuggler-turned-rebel changed since we last saw him in Return of the Jedi, but he did explain how viewers will understand what has happened through various context clues and details shown in The Force Awakens. The actor said:
"That's part of the genius in the telling of this story. There is backstory that is explained in the context of this film which explains the history that has occurred off-screen, and conditions the relationships you'll see played out in the telling of this particular story."
It's good to know that we won't have to go through a lot of expositional dialogue. Ford went on to explain what the key was to bringing the Han Solo back after all these years, and making sure that he's recognizable as the same guy fans loved years ago:
"I think what's important is that you are faithful to the original character, and that the development of him proceeds without violating what you know about him. And yet gives you the opportunity for some surprises and growth in his character and nature."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in theaters on Dec. 18.