Talking ‘Star Wars: Smuggler’s Revenge’ With Writer F.J. DeSanto

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The “Smuggler’s Trilogy” of Star Wars radio plays came to an end at Celebration Orlando, wrapping up with Smuggler’s Revenge – a fitting mix of drama, romantic tension, humor, and familiarity — while still exploring some new (if not canon) story ground.

Written by Kyle Newman and F.J. DeSanto, the three-episode arc debuted at Celebration VI in 2012 and continued at Celebration Anaheim three years later. Each chapter was performed just once for a live audience and later released online. (The Smuggler’s Gambit mp3 is at StarWars.com, and Smuggler’s Bounty is on the Star Wars YouTube channel.) They’re truly something to see in person, and as a longtime fan of the Brian Daley-penned original Star Wars radio dramas, I love these productions.

Image: Star Wars YouTube Channel

Following Smuggler’s Revenge, DeSanto took some time for a GeekDad email interview about the trilogy.

GeekDad:

This chapter marked the conclusion of the “Smuggler’s Trilogy.” Can you talk just a little about looking back at the entire 3-chapter project? What you expected going into the first one, the response to it at Celebration, and then the unfolding of the next two chapters?

DeSanto:

I honestly can’t remember what we were anticipating when we wrote the first one. It seemed like a fun and unique thing to do and we knew David Collins would be the best Han Solo after Harrison Ford. Kyle and I just did what we have probably done since we were kids, just made up a fun Star Wars adventure but instead of playing with action figures, we wrote a radio show. I thought fifty fans would show up to a room to hear it and that would be it. Then Kyle was calling me from the first one saying, “Hey: There are a few thousand people here,” and I didn’t quite comprehend that until I was onstage for the second one in Anaheim. It certainly added a lot of pressure for the third one, but I think Kyle, David and the crew really pulled it off. It’s taken on a life of its own.

GeekDad:

Although these are non-canon tales, you and Kyle seem to have approached them with everything to make them “feel” like they truly belong in the Star Wars universe, from the dialogue and characterizations to the references to existing canon events – including references to Rogue One in “Smuggler’s Revenge.” Can you talk about that a bit?

DeSanto:

To be honest, that’s the easy part. We are so steeped in the mythology that it’s part of our everyday vernacular. A lot of those little bits come later in the process after we have the story and characters sketched out. For example, the Scarif reference just made sense in the context of our story. It’s fun to connect it all to the larger universe and the audience gets it.

GeekDad:

Even though your Princess Leia is portrayed – wonderfully – by Catherine Taber, this was the first time you were writing for the character since Carrie Fisher’s passing, and whether by design or not, the final scene felt bittersweet because of that. Did you have that in mind as you finished Smuggler’s Revenge?

DeSanto:

We were writing this before Carrie sadly passed, but it definitely became an homage as we kept going. We had always planned to have more Leia in Revenge because Catherine was so awesome in the second one. She stands toe-to-toe with David, and the chemistry is incredible. We actually tweaked that final scene the day before the show to cap off Han’s arc through the three shows, and because we knew those two actors could bring the depth and emotion that makes it so special.

GeekDad:

Yes, this one’s over, but in true geek fashion, I feel obligated to ask whether the possibility for future Celebration radio dramas remains open, particularly since the Star Wars universe/sandbox has grown with the popularity of the characters and stories in Rebels, Rogue One, and The Force Awakens.

DeSanto:

This was the final Smuggler’s but I don’t think it’s the end of our radio adventures. We’re already discussing ideas – but it’s way too early to divulge anything. We love playing in this world.

You can catch Smuggler’s Revenge at about the nine-hour mark in the Day 3 live stream video from Celebration Orlando:

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