Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Solo character is a self-made droid with moxie
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“I think they’re both kind of self-made. And they get each other in that way.”
That’s how Donald Glover described Lando Calrissian’s relationship with his partner droid L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story. He’s speaking metaphorically about his galactic gambler character — but he means it literally about the robot.
The droid played via motion-capture by Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge belongs to no one and has constructed herself over the years, building upon and adjusting her original design.
“She’s a self-modified droid,” says Jon Kasdan (The First Time), who co-wrote the script with his father, Lawrence (veteran scribe of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens.) “The idea is that she’s sort of a mutt, if you will, of various parts of different kinds of droids who has improved upon herself.”
That’s why the head floating above her shoulders like a mechanical jellyfish looks a little like the dome on a primitive BB unit, while her chest and shoulders have an R2/Astromech influence. (Her name, too, is a reference to “LEET” or “l337,” which is the practice of substituting numerals for letters in words.)
“She’s a complete individual in the galaxy,” Jon Kasdan says. “We wanted to have it be a completely different kind of droid than you’ve ever seen in the movies. And we definitely wanted it to be a female. We thought it was more than time for that.”
What Emilia Clarke says of her enigmatic character Qi’ra also applies to L3: “Han Solo is only surrounded by strong women.”
Waller-Bridge is the star and creator of Amazon’s Fleabag, the story of a single British woman who is barely holding her life together (pictured above). It’s a showcase for her fearless and awkward sense of humor, and a lot of her personality will come through in the droid.
“She has a working relationship with Lando, and it’s very sophisticated and informed by years of working together,” says Lawrence Kasdan. “And, Phoebe, herself, is hilarious. The effect that she will appear in is amazing, but she comes through very strongly even with this astounding [CGI], both her humor and her physicality. If you meet Phoebe, she’s one of these people you just fall in love with immediately.”
While we haven’t heard her speak yet as L3, the makers of Solo say her character’s comic relief doesn’t come from being a stick in the mud — like C-3PO and K-2SO from Rogue One could sometimes be. And she’s not quite the walking disaster of her Fleabag character. L3 is way more put together, so to speak.
“Her AI is way up there in terms of IQ,” says director Ron Howard. “She’s capable of some pretty interesting conversations. And Phoebe is hilarious and brilliant and really helped bring that character to life in ways that are funny and surprising.”
Can you imagine Threepio being cool enough to have a secret handshake-style salute with Lando?
“She’s an absolute engine, not just for comedy, but for point of view, and she’s got a very strong personality,” says Jon Kasdan, who said he and his father based her on people they knew. “Much like women in my life and Larry’s life that have just made their will known to us, she isn’t subservient. L3 is subservient to no one, which is a fun kind of droid to write.”